From Endurance to Dressage
Walk to Canter to Walk
Even though it was Christmas weekend, Chemaine once again made the trek from Moorpark to Bakersfield to give a few of us some lessons. I know I say this all the time, but she really is an excellent trainer. If you're in the Los Angeles/Simi Valley area, you really should look her up.
All of Chemaine's students sport embroidered gear that features her logo. I've been hankering for something that proclaims I am part of the crowd, and now I have it. Chemaine brought me a "Team Symphony" decal for my truck. Here's a close up:
Equally as exciting was the "brag banner" that she made for me. Chemaine took apart some of my show ribbons and created a banner that I can hang in front of my stall at shows, or I can keep it in my office. It's so pretty that I hate to actually take it to shows because I know how dusty it will get. I'll probably keep it at home until we go to our next big show.
While that's all fabulous and much appreciated, the real point of her presence was to cram as much information into me as possible. While I've been taking occasional lessons from Chemaine for several years, it was only since this summer that she became my regular trainer. Now that I am riding with her once a month, the tenor of the lessons is changing, and things are starting to fall into place.
While I don't feel like I am in a program per se, I can feel the benefits of regularly scheduled dressage lessons. Chemaine teaches me something one month, I work the heck out of it, and she checks my progress the next month. Now that lessons aren't about trying to fix one little thing the day before a show, Chemaine can create more of a plan of attack for me. In the past six months, we've improved Speedy's canter tremendously, installed a leg yield, created the beginning of a trot lengthening, and created some actual impulsion.
For this lesson, I wanted to work on the walk to canter to walk transitions in preparation for showing the three loop serpentine at Second Level. Before we worked on that, I showed Chemaine our leg yields, transitions within the gait (specifically at the trot), and our ten-meter trot circles. Everything met her expectations. We still have work to do, but it's stuff that I can continue on my own.
Once we made it though all of that, we finally tackled the walk to canter to walk transition. I've been schooling it on my own, and the walk to canter has been going well. The canter to walk was where we were having tons of trouble. No problem is too big for Chemaine however, and this one is actually quite common. Right away Chemaine had an exercise designed to teach Speedy what I was asking for.
Essentially, the exercise goes like this:
After a few repetitions, Speedy understood the downward walk transition much better. I feel confident that when we see Chemaine next month, our walk to canter to walk should be in good enough shape to start refining it.
Chemaine also showed me a variation of this exercise that looks like this:
This exercise will prepare your horse for the three loop serpentine in Test 1 at Second Level. It goes like this:
On that note, I had a mini-consult with Chemaine about my showing plans. One of the things that makes Chemaine such an outstanding trainer is that she's very committed to helping her students achieve their competition goals, whatever they are.
I asked her if I am moving too slowly and trying for scores that aren't realistic. Through Introductory and Training Level, I didn't feel ready to move up a level until I was scoring in the very high 60s and low 70s. That has been my goal for First Level as well. At our last show, we scored as high as 66%. Chemaine reminded me that as we move through the levels, scores in the mid-60s would be a good indicator that we're ready to move up.
I have a lot of work to do in January and February. I still want to show at First Level because I want to qualify for the CDS Regional Adult Amateur Competition and both GMOs' Championship shows, but I also want to start showing at Second Level. It's looking like that goal might be a possibility.
More tomorrow, including video!
I love that canter exercise (and the tweaked version!). When Penn is ready, I think I'm going to steal it to make the canter-walk transitions clear to him. They're a weak point for me, and he has so much impulsion, that I'm sure canter-walk will not go well for us to start.
12/30/2015 06:25:20 am
The German trainer we ride with once or twice a year calls it the Mickey Mouse exercise, and there are a lot of ways you can tweak it for sure.
That serpentine exercise is one that I use ALL the time when teaching simple changes! And I actually use the pattern of the circle exercise you posted as a way of improving counter canter- true canter on the small circles and instead of changing to go on the big circle, counter canter that. If there's a ring big enough, I like to basically just counter canter a 20m circle and then use the 10m circles to the outside whenever the counter canter breaks down.
12/30/2015 06:32:31 am
I've also done the counter canter/true canter exercise with the Mickey Mouse pattern too. It's funny when you are "relieved" to do a 10-meter circle because holding the counter canter for a full 20-meters can be hard, especially early on!
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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%: