From Endurance to Dressage
The concept, I mean. Sorry, but I may be on this idea for a while. I can tell that Speedy and I are on the edge of a pretty big breakthrough. We've had others along the way, but this one is feeling like the last chunk needed to complete the base of our foundation. I think that once we get a solid stretch, we'll be ready to start tackling some of the First Level movements.
Our lesson on Monday night was just a repeat of last Monday's lesson, only we got "more" and went farther. The principle was the same: it takes a lot of leg to get a good stretch. You know how all of the books use a visual as a metaphor for a dressage element? Sally Swift used a ton of them: legs made of melting ice cream, energy staying within the banks of a swiftly moving river, holding the birds in your hands, etc. A lot of them work for me, but just as many don't. What's funny is that as soon as I truly get the idea, the metaphor then makes perfect, logical, brilliant sense, and I wonder why I didn't see it before!
Right now, I have toothpaste on the brain. I keep walking around seeing toothpaste being squeezed from a tube. That is truly a great image for explaining how to get the stretch. For so long, I've been giving Speedy the reins while hoping that he'd take the contact out and down. Uh ... yeah ... no. It hasn't really been working. In order to get the toothpaste out, you have to squeeze it forward through the tube. OH!
For whatever reason, JL's explanation is finally making sense. She didn't just decided to teach us the stretch last week; she's been laboring on that concept for nearly two years. I am just now aware of what I need to do to achieve it. In order to get a stretch, I have to squeeze Speedy's hind end forward (like the toothpaste) so that his front and hind end match in pace and rhythm. Once he is truly moving forward from the leg, I can slowly move my hands forward. If he is really moving forward, his neck will lengthen and the contact will remain the same.
If you're like me, you're sick of reading, allow the horse to stretch forward and down. I've been "allowing" for two years now and nothing has come of it. I can't guarantee that these steps will work for you, but here's what JL is having me do to achieve a forward and downward stretch.
After doing this for several days, Speedy is now trying to stretch his neck at the walk as soon as I pick up the reins. Woohoo, Buddy! Over the last few weeks, I have also noticed way more saliva than I have ever seen before. Again, this is an excellent indicator of acceptance of the bit (it's not a dental issue!). One final thing that we've seen is Speedy's regular warm-up cough hasn't shown up in a few weeks. Instead, he is sneezing/snorting like crazy as he warms up. It has a nice, this feels good sound to it. I don't know if the cough will come back, but for now it seems to have been replaced.
None of this is from Speedy finally deciding to play ball. This has everything to do with me asking him in a way that he gets. JL remarked several times on Monday that my contact was much more elastic and following and far less restrictive. So yah, me! as well. The more I get and understand, the better Speedy moves and looks.
So, here's to stretching it out!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: