From Endurance to Dressage
Surcingle - Day 1
I am always on the lookout for ways to improve our form - both Speedy G's and mine. I've worked on my own seat and hand position a lot over the last six months, but Speedy's form needs some work as well. Leslie Webb put us back in a running martingale, which certainly helped, but Speedy needs more consistent work to develop some self-carriage and muscle memory. I am just not balanced and consistent enough to help him learn how to balance himself.
So I bought a surcingle. Don't get me wrong. I don't think gadgets are THE answer. I do think they can help. I've used draw reins on Speedy G, but I didn't think they gave us any long term help. As soon as I switched back to my regular reins,even when riding with both at the same time, he went back to rooting and fussing. I've also used the side reins, and those do seem to help, but I don't use them consistently enough for him to "get" the lesson.
My thinking with the surcingle is that since it is easy to put on, I can use it even on the days that I don't intend to ride. Over the next two weeks I will be wrapping up the school year and won't have time for any kind of real riding. Immediately after that, I'll be on vacation for several weeks and obviously won't be able to ride. When I get back, Bakersfield's notoriously hot summer will have arrived and neither of us will feel like doing a LOT of riding then, either. So, my solution was the surcingle. I can pop it on in just minutes and do 10 - 20 minutes of lunge work on the days that I don't have time to ride, or when it's just too hot to get a good ride done.
Uh-huh ... that all sounds w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l. Do you know what my experience with a surcingle is? Yep, that's right ... none! It's a fairly simple device however, and I think I can figure it out. Today was ... DAY 1. I used it with a half pad because the fabric was a bit stiff and I was worried about it irritating him. I fit it first, and then we did some easy walking in both directions and called it a day. Photos (click photos for larger view) and video below.
Before I get too much criticism here ... I don't like the side reins to be too tight, they scare me just a bit. The point for this session was simply for me to see if the surcingle was going to fit and how Speedy G would take to it. I am also experimenting with which set of rings to use. From the photo you can see that this surcingle offers a lot of choices. When I use the side reins, I adjust them as I need to (longer or shorter).
What I find interesting is that he knows they are there, and he's walking nicely without popping his nose all over the place. I should also note that I switched out the Mikmar Lozenge bit for the Myler Loose Ring French Snaffle. Stay tuned for DAY 2 ...
5/25/2011 12:22:23 am
Karen, you did right by now have the side reins too tight to start. That is where wrecks come in to play. Let him get used to the feel of them first.
5/25/2011 12:35:45 am
I agree...always start loose....I lost my mare in a side rein lunging accident and while it wasn't because they were too tight...it was still scary...people that crank them in make me really really nervous and it's better to be cautious and safe than sorry :)
5/25/2011 12:36:44 am
BTW- I must say Speedy look really good...weight and all that jazz :)
Looks good to me.... I don't often use side reins, myself (or a martingale, I don't think I even own one of those!), because my training has been 'classical'. I almost never just lunge, I do long-lining instead. That way I can use the outside rein to activate the inside hind while I'm creating the bend and watching. I find it to be more effective than lunging, and almost always warm up on long lines.
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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.
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