From Endurance to Dressage
On Sunday, I took everything I had learned from Saturday's lesson with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, and tried it on my own. As usual, some of it was fantastic - I got a flying change the first time I asked, and some of it was a fail - the next change was a disaster. I wasn't disappointed though as we are making some really steady progress.
We are definitely doing some things right. I watched the video of our half pass left, and I was actually pleased by what I saw. Izzy isn't willing to give me any thrust yet, but he is beginning to step underneath himself and cross his legs which is the first step in developing more power. What I like about this video is that his haunches aren't trailing, he maintains a very steady tempo, his legs are definitely crossing over, and we held the half pass all the way to the letter! What I don't like is that I am not sitting to the left, sheesh! I guess you can't have everything.
Proof that I am not sitting to the left...
While I wrote about the theatrics that come with the flying changes yesterday - Speedy went through this too, watching it later that day on the video - repeatedly, helped me see that he's not trying to unseat me. He's just having trouble coordinating his legs. Sean's advice to keep calm and carry on is just what I needed to hear.
For the end of the ride, I finished up with an exercise that really seems to help both of us. We do 15- to 20-meter canter circles changing lead through trot from one circle to the next. Izzy really needs to learn that switching leads isn't cause for concern, so I ride one lead and then the other in no particular order. While it can be challenging physically, it keeps his brain engaged, and little by little it helps him to loosen up. By the end of the five minutes or so that we worked, he was moving out with much less bracing and more stretch over his topline.
It was a good weekend. Our rides were productive which means we actually took a few steps forward instead of the two steps forward, one step back that so often characterizes our training program. I don't know what this will bring, but I feel like our progress is definitely trending to the right and up.
Keep on keeping on while trying it on my own seems to be working. We're in a good place ... for today anyway.
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%