From Endurance to Dressage
When Chemaine arrived for Day 2, Speedy and I were waiting eagerly for what she had to show us. As I mentioned yesterday, the dynamic of our relationship is changing. Now that she's got me more or less up to speed with her instructional basics, she is able to teach me more complex exercises.
It wasn't until I started processing all of the video clips from the lesson that I realized she wasn't trying to help me fix one movement or another, but instead, she was giving me suppling exercises that will improve almost every movement.
Turn on the Forehand on a Circle
This is an easy walk exercise that is great to use in the early stages of the warm up. Walk in a 15-meter circle. It's an easier exercise to do if you can see the tracks of your first circle. Now, send the haunches outside of the circle as you walk around. Basically, you'll be doing a turn on the forehand as you walk forward. The exercise encourages the inside hind to step deeply.
This is also a good one to use while warming up. The idea is to compress the stride, ask the horse to soften to the inside rein, and then lengthen. I've shared this exercise before. To make the exercise even more effective, Chemaine made two suggestions. First, think about building the tempo. If you start at a 5, compress to a 3 and then lengthen to a 6. Compress to a 4 and lengthen to a 7. In other words, we can't expect a big grand lengthening right out of the box. Give the horse time to become supple and loose. The flip side of that is don't get stuck at the same tempo.
The second suggestion she made was to count the strides. If you start at 10 strides of compression followed by 10 strides of lengthening, gradually reduce the number of the compressed strides so that they become a half halt.
Shoulder In to Forward
For anyone struggling with shoulder in, this exercise will help immensely. Speedy has a very "bendy" neck, which makes a lot of dressage work challenging because he can fake it like nobody's business.
For the shoulder in, I was getting all kinds of bend, but he wasn't stepping under and through to the outside rein, which is not entirely his fault. Chemaine pointed out that I need to be firmer with the outside rein and really use my own aids to push him over to the outside, supporting rein.
This exercise is fairly simple: start with a shoulder in, but after a few strides, go forward in the direction of the bend. Half halt, and then return to the shoulder in. It makes a bit of a stair step as you progress down the length of the arena. After only a few attempts, our shoulder in showed improvement.
I grabbed some screen shots from the video. What I like about the photo on the left is that you can really see how the exercise stretches the shoulder. I don't think Speedy has enough angle here, but you can see this is a suppling exercise. In the second photo, I grabbed the shot just at the moment he went from forward into the shoulder in. I don't think you can see it in the photo, but he had to really lift his shoulder up and over. Again, this shows how much suppling and strength building can come from this movement.
Shoulder In/Haunches In/Spiral In/Leg Yield Out
This is a very tough suppling exercise, and one that Chemaine recommended I do no more than twice a week. She said that while it is a great stretching exercise, it's really easy to over do it. The result will be a sore horse!
Start on a 20--meter circle with a shoulder in. The purpose is to bring the shoulders in one meter at a time as you ultimately spiral in. At the same time, you will also do a haunches in, but they should come two meters off the circle. Don't maintain the haunches in. Return to a shoulder in, slowly spiraling in. Do another haunches in, return to shoulder in. Eventually, the circle will be so small that the horse will be in a shoulder in and haunches in. Now spiral out in a leg yield, but think lengthen at the same time.
I should have pointed this out when I started the post, but it is really humbling to show you all these videos snippets. Trying an exercise for the first time is a great way to look and feel like the world's worst rider, especially when you then publish it to YouTube. Despite my bumbling and fumbling, I wanted to share the exercises with you because they are good ones that every horse can benefit from.
Tomorrow ... the work we did with green bean Izzy!
12/30/2015 07:39:13 am
Super exercises, thanks for sharing! And I for one think you and Speedy both look great. He's trying so hard for you, and his whole shape/way of going has really changed in the last year. While those new exercises might not be polished, they look pretty darn good for a first try!
12/30/2015 10:30:51 am
Thanks, jenj. I hate to watch good video of myself ... watching myself struggling is worse than have my toenails pulled out. :0)
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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
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