From Endurance to Dressage
After my little teary-eyed pity party, JL got to work on Speedy and me. The week before, we had practiced the correct application of the pulley-halt. She asked to see what I could do with it. We set off at a walk and executed a smart pulley-halt with very little effort and zero hind end fall in. We repeated the maneuver at the trot. JL was pleased.
Now that Speedy had some respect of my outside rein and inside leg (oh, wow ... how many times do those two things go together?), JL wanted to work on keeping him off my inside leg, particularly the left side.
We practiced several exercises that were fun and very effective. In the first one, she had me plant my inside, left hand in the pulley-halt position so that I could focus on controlling Speedy's outside shoulder as he moved sideways off my inside leg. It wasn't easy. What I discovered is that I frequently throw away the outside rein which allows Speedy to move forward and not sideways.
Since I was having trouble getting Speedy to move out, JL had me tap the whip just behind my inside leg. The sequence went like this: whip tap, rock the outside rein, whip tap, rock the outside rein. A more coordinated rider would have got the rhythm much quicker I am sure. I was too tentative with the whip tap and too late with the outside rein. Let's just say there was a whole lot of pivoting and no sideways movement. Being an uncoordinated handler of the whip didn't help either!
JL's not a quitter though and had another way to teach us. She stood at Speedy's head and took control of the reins. My job was to tap, tap, tap until Speedy stepped sideways with the front and hind end. JL prevented him from stepping forward with short pulls on the rein. We finally got it. I had been trying to use the reins to get him to step over. That was wrong. She wanted him to move off my leg only.
After I "got it," she had me hold both reins in my right hand while I tapped behind my left leg with the whip, sort of like a western side pass. It took a few tries, but finally I was able to prevent Speedy from stepping forward as he moved away from my inside leg. Success! Here's an interesting description, with short videos, of leg yield, half pass, and side pass.
Now that I could feel a real sideways motion, we tried it at the trot, spiraling out. Almost immediately Speedy's nose was aimed inside the circle which meant that I was pushing his hindquarters around his front end and throwing away my outside rein. We repeated the spirals over and over until I could slow Speedy's outside shoulder so that he had to move more out and less forward. I finally, finally got the feeling.
My homework for the week is to get better coordinated with the whip and more effective with the outside rein (don't throw it away, but don't hang on it either). I rode on Thursday and was quite pleased with our effort. I practiced the western side pass with the whip which helped my coordination somewhat as well as helped me be more effective with the outside rein. We did some work at the trot, but I am an idiot with the whip so we weren't fabulous.
By next Wednesday, I hope to get an okay! from JL.
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%: