From Endurance to Dressage
Warm Up for a Good Ride
Sorry about the lack of a post yesterday morning - my Mac decided to do a surprise ios update that took a looong time. I am back in business today though, so here you go.
Speedy and I have been struggling a little lately. I have a feeling that it might take longer to show at Second Level than I had planned. We're schooling some of the movements, but the thing that's really holding us back is the increased collection at the trot.
The canter is much easier to collect as it has more suspension. Right now, I can get Speedy soft and round in the trot work, but it comes at the expense of FORWARD. When I can get him in front of my leg, we lose a lot of the roundness. It's something I definitely need help with.
If you've been following along for any length of time, you already know that I ride once a month or so with Chemaine Hurtado, the owner and trainer of Symphony Dressage Stables, based in Moorpark. I would ride with her more often, but it's a little more than two hours to her barn which makes a weekly lesson a bit of a challenge.
Fortunately for me, Chemaine is always working to stay connected with clients via social media. She has a great YouTube channel where she posts instructional videos. In her newest offering, she demonstrates two of her warm up exercises that are suitable for green beans all the way to horses at the grand prix.
I rode Speedy on Tuesday after I watched Chemaine's video. I've heard all of this in lessons before, and I've even watched other riders warm up this way. The exercises aren't new to me, but when I rode Speedy, I made the exercises the point of the ride.
I decided that all I wanted was lateral flexion. How supple could I really get him? The first few minutes were not so pretty, but little by little, Speedy really started to get flexible. Before he knew it, we were doing some decent leg yields as I asked for softness on the inside rein.
I moved on to 10-meter circles and shoulder in, again focusing on suppleness to the inside rein. I asked him to go back and forth between 10-meter half circles and full circles. When we did the half circles, I focused on keeping him soft on the inside rein by doing Chemaine's 1-2-3-4 count as we made the switch to the other half circle.
By the time we moved on to the change of canter lead through trot, Speedy was super supple through his neck and poll. We always get the change of lead, but sometimes I have to use a very heavy hand to bounce him off the old bend and onto the new one. For this ride, he easily gave me the new bend.
Part of the problem is that I know what I want from Speedy: big movement that's uphill, but I am probably just expecting too much too soon too quickly. I think I am going to focus on suppleness with moderate forwardness for now. When I see Chemaine in a week or so, maybe she can help me get closer to that bigger movement that really comes from behind.
Until then, we'll just keep chipping away at it all.
12/17/2015 06:52:15 am
My sense of it is that it takes them quite a lot of time to build up the strength to do that type of work. Paddy could do it and hold it for maybe 3-5 minutes, and then I had to work really REALLY hard to get more out of him. Doing collected work is tough, but it sounds like you guys are really coming along. So excited to see your progress!
12/18/2015 05:41:13 am
You're right, it's definitely hard. While Speedy isn't lazy, he's also not a fan of working hard. I don't think our struggle with his inability to collect, it's more an issue of motivation. His, not mine! :0)
Soft and supple is the way to go- the rest is more forgivable if Speedy is soft and supple and trying. Something else to remember, that big uphill movement will make you lose some of the roundness I've seen from your videos of Speedy. You're at the place in feel where I am I think- I've ridden so through for so long, when I pick Penn up he doesn't feel round anymore when in reality he's still on the vertical and has plenty of throughness still.
12/18/2015 05:44:12 am
Like I told jenj above, it's more about his lack of motivation. As you said, "trying." All too often, Speedy is "trying" to duck out of work - literally and figuratively. As Chemaine says, forward fixes a lot of things. If I really kick him forward, or use the whip, I can get his hind end digging deep, but it comes at the expense of softness. We're working on it. :0)
12/18/2015 05:48:19 am
This video thing is a new avenue for her, but I suspect she's going to start doing more of them. While she has all of her medals and is an accomplished rider in her own right (look her up on Centerline Scores - Chemaine Hurtado), she works with mostly lower level riders (and a few at the FEI levels) which means the stuff she comes up with is for us. So often training articles and videos are for the top level rides who are trying to perfect their one tempis or canter pirouettes. It will be nice to have stuff that's closer to where I am riding.
12/18/2015 06:04:36 pm
Hope you find something useful.:0)
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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
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Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
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3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: