From Endurance to Dressage
Well that answers the can he or can't he question from the other day. If you don't have a trainer, and if you go through periods of huge self doubt, you really need to get one. Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, really knows how to bring out the best in a horse and rider team without giving the rider false expectations.
She never came right out and said Speedy will be brilliant at Third Level, so quit worrying because in all likelihood he won't be. Instead, she helped me tackle the lateral work problem. The first issue was that Speedy was stuck on my inside rein and leg. As I started the trot half pass, Chemaine instructed me to ride a 10-meter circle while pushing him away from my leg. Then I went back to half pass, but every time I felt him heavy on my inside rein and leg, I repeated the 10-meter circle. We did a lot of 10-meter circles, but the exercise worked.
The next thing Chemaine helped me address was lightness. Speedy has been so heavy primarily because I am driving him to the bit. She laughed when she said that I've crammed him so far into the box that he can't get anymore into the box. She said I now need to let him go and see if he'll hold himself where he needs to be.
The exercise went a little like this: half pass, let him go, collect him, let him go. Repeat, repeat, repeat. And of course, the exercise worked. While the half pass didn't look brilliant, Speedy was finally soft in the bridle and moving laterally. I am sure he felt as relieved as I did.
Since my arena is short and wide, riding the half pass can be tricky as I run out of room. Chemaine gave me yet another new exercise that helps with the geometry while continuing the lateral work. It goes more or less like this:
The last thing we worked on was the flying change. Surprisingly, the change wasn't the thing I felt we needed to work on; I've had those more or less under control. In fact, we got them without too much fuss. Chemaine, never one to leave me without something new to work on, suggested we put the canter half pass and flying changes together.
Guess what happened? Yup. Speedy and I got the flying change out of canter half pass the first time. I am not sure who was more surprised, me, or Chemaine!
Speedy wasn't a bit surprised. He knew exactly what he was doing.
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%: