From Endurance to Dressage
Brooke is turning out to be quite an excellent student. Speedy was pretty sassy on Saturday and gave Brooke a few good hard spooks, but she rode them out gracefully and calmly. I explained to her that Speedy only dishes out as much as his rider can handle. I've never seen him get so naughty with any of his other ladies. He actually humped up his back and threatened to buck or kick, something he's only ever done with me or Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables.
With a quarter of the arena still water logged and the rest barely dry enough to work on, I didn't want them to do anything too dramatic. The last time Brooke rode with me, we worked on doing 20-meter circles at different parts of the arena. What makes this a challenging exercise for riders new to dressage is that there is a lot to keep in mind. The rider has to steer and maintain a steady tempo. Because the arena was short, I told Brooke she would ride 20-meter circles at C and my modified A (L).
I've said this about a million times before, but I am not a trainer. Nobody pays me for lessons; I just want Speedy to get some exercise, and he loves the work. I have discovered though that I know a lot more than I thought, and teaching someone else gives me an opportunity to articulate what I know. As we worked, I told Brooke that I used to think Chemaine was making stuff up. All of that gobbledegook about the inside hind leg and recycling energy and getting your horse "through" were just made up expressions to sound smart. D'oh.
It wasn't until I started teaching others that I started to see these things for my self. While Brooke is riding, I can see when her weight is not on the inside seat bone. I can see why Speedy can't turn when her shoulders don't turn. I can see why the half halt doesn't work when he's not on the outside rein. I can also see him push with more thrust and power when she doesn't allow his energy to leak out his front end. I can also see him sit and carry when she gets his inside hind leg underneath. Saturday's lesson with Brooke made me wish I kept my horses somewhere with other riders so that I could get some peer coaching, too.
The main thing I wanted Brooke to feel during this lesson was tempo. As she left the 20-meter circle and rode the long sides, Speedy would quicken the tempo and basically "run off." I asked her to focus on getting him round and balanced and then holding that together as the transitioned from the circle to the long side. Once she got it, you should have seen Speedy lengthen his stride and give her some nice suspension. Once she was able to keep that control on the long side, I had her cross the diagonal. I wasn't ready for Speedy to be so quick to respond so I didn't have my phone out for their best attempts, but you can definitely see it in the first two photos above.
Since Speedy was willing, we played around with the same exercise at the canter without crossing the diagonal. I had Brooke ride a 20-meter circle and then carry that steady tempo down the long side. By the time we got to that part of the ride, Speedy was on fire. He was feeling good and enjoying the opportunity to feel the wind in his hair. Just for good measure, he also threw in a flying change here and there when Brooke's half halts weren't quite right or when she shifted her weight to the opposite seat bone. Silly horse!
Brooke was very enthusiastic when we were finished and admitted that it was quite a fun ride. Speedy and I agreed.
Now if only the weather will cooperate enough for me to have a lesson ...
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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
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%: