From Endurance to Dressage
I am saying that with an eye roll and a harrumph. The end result was fine, but driver of the big brown truck, you sure made it a challenge!
I was working in the arena the other day when the UPS truck came roaring by. It's one thing when it zooms down the "main" road, which is a single lane of black top through our quiet little neighborhood of farm and ranch properties, but it's totally different when it zips down the neighbor's access road which lies at the end our arena. That little drive is barely a car width, and it's covered with a canopy of trees.
I ride down that road; little kids bicycle down that road; the dogs play on that road. There is no shoulder to speak of and the visibility is quite poor given how narrow and shaded it is. And really, it's just a long driveway.
Of course, I was riding at that end of the arena as the truck shot past. Speedy tucked his butt and tried to bolt. I hollered out to the UPS guy to SLOW DOWN, but he must not have heard me as five minutes later he was zooming back by. I yelled AGAIN as he continued out onto the neighborhood road. Jerk.
The good news is that the excitement of a noisy brown truck got Speedy in front of my leg. We had an awesome ride. Even though I use spurs, he's pretty hard to get moving really forward. I might think about carrying a whip now and again.
Anyway ... Speedy did two exercises better than he's ever done them: the zig zag leg yield and the counter canter into a volte.
For the first zig zag attempt, every time I changed the bend and put my leg on to scoot him over, he shot forward. After doing that through two changes of bend, I hauled back on that outside rein and dug my spur in until he stopped rushing forward and took a good sideways step. I gave him a huge pat on the neck and picked up the trot again going down the long side.
As we approached the corner, I gave him a little half halt, added some bend, and leg yielded him into the corner. As we came out of the corner to head down centerline, I made sure we had a little bend, weighted my inside seat bone, turned my shoulders to the inside, and bumped him left for a few strides. I changed the bend and my shoulders and bumped him to the right for a few strides.
All I can say is HOLY SMOKES that was fun! For the first time, we both got it exactly right. He was so light in the front end that he felt like he was fairly skipping across that centerline back and forth, back and forth. You should have heard me squeal with laughter when we got back to A. I gave Speedy a great big hug and praised him over and over.
I wanted to hop off of him right there, but we hadn't been working for that long, less than 15 minutes, and we really needed to work on the canter. "Fortunately", that's just about the time that dang UPS truck came roaring by so Speedy caught a second wind.
Since he was so hot to trot, I shortened my reins, and stepped into my left stirrup. He was so nicely in front of my leg that his canter departure was excellent. And since he was already on his hind end, the canter was soft and light. We did one 20-meter circle, and then I did a counter canter circle at E/B. Oh my gosh it was so light and balanced. Gone was the rush onto the forehand.
The last time I rode with Christian, he told me to close my eyes and just remember that I was riding a left lead canter even when we track right. So now, when I am working on the counter canter, I focus on keeping my left hip forward (on the left lead), and I chant, LEFT ... LEFT ... LEFT as I track right. I do the same thing, only in reverse, when we are on the right lead cantering left.
It may look and sound silly, but it helps to keep my body in the correct position without losing the lead. As we get better and better at the counter canter, maybe I won't have to say it out loud.
We did the counter canter both directions and included a few Mickey Mouse ears on each circle. As of right now, we can only do one ear at the top of the circle and one at the bottom. We aren't strong enough to do two ears on each side. As it is, our voltes are more like 12-meters which doesn't leave room for two ears anyway.
I don't care that we can't do all of the exercises "right." I am having fun, and more importantly, it seems as though Speedy is having fun. He loves challenges, and I know he is so thankful to be done with those boring 20-meter trot circles from Training Level. Now that we have so many different exercises to work on, I can keep things interesting for him.
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%: