From Endurance to Dressage
You already know that I rode the heck out of my boys over the Thanksgiving holiday. Having so many days in a row to ride without worrying about the loss of daylight was like an early Christmas gift, and I unwrapped it greedily!
Sunday, the final day of the break, proved to be the most successful riding day. I started with Sydney as he is the most "work" and the least "fun." I had been thinking about our most recent lesson with JL and was trying to work out how to incorporate all of our new learning.
We started out with some walking in a frame and moved on to the up, up down trot exercise, which is mostly for my benefit, but it does get Sydney moving a bit more freely through his back. Without giving him time to think about it, I cued for a right lead canter and got it with no fuss. This isn't the minor success as he does that all the time. It's the later canter departures that are the real bear.
We did a little more walking, just to change the conversation a bit, and then I put him back to work, again tracking right. I shortened my inside rein and focused on moving him sideways. And then I simply sat and squeezed for a right lead canter. I kept a very steady connection on both reins, and squeezed harder. Sydney finally lurched into a right lead canter without his customary duck and whirl. It wasn't beautiful, but we were both trying really hard.
I asked for several transitions from trot to canter to trot to canter and was pleased that he was able to canter each time. I think we may finally be on to something here. This was the first of the minor successes.
I then saddle Speedy G for his fifth ride in a row. I knew I needed to try something very different or he was going to be very pissy about still more work. I decided to work on some leg yielding as I've kind of been avoiding that particular exercise. Leg yielding is hard for Speedy G which makes it less fun than the counter canter loops.
RIght away I knew I had a problem. Speedy was completely ignoring my left leg (and spur), which is a crucial tool for the leg yield right. Rather than kick and prod, I hopped off and retrieved my whip. As I turned him around in the barn aisle, I tapped his flank with the whip and got a "yes ma'am" about-face.
As soon as I hopped back on, Speedy was much more forward and attentive. We did leg yield right at the walk with me tapping right behind my leg each time he stepped too slowly. When I knew I had his attention, I let the whip fall to the ground and picked up the trot. We came down the long side to A, made a left turn and leg yielded right all the way across the arena to M. We took a short walk break and repeated the leg yield but this time to the left. He gave me two leg yields that were finally show worthy, maybe not 8s, but definitely acceptable.
Two minor successes in one day is a great way to finish a weekend aimed at expressing our thankfulness. Thank you, ponies; you're both awesome!
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%: