From Endurance to Dressage
We're back ...
Huh? Did you go somewhere?
Not physically, but mentally, Speedy G and I have not seen eye to eye in a few weeks.
It's my fault of course. My mental state dictates how I approach the world, and lately, it's not been peaches and cream. Oh, I could list all the reasons why, but they're the same kind of problems everyone else has. You've got your own problems to deal with and don't need to hear about mine. Let's just say that I find it very interesting that Thursday was the first day that I recorded 100% (albeit with a question mark) for Speedy's way of going on my barn calendar, and Friday was the last BIG work day that I'll have for a while. Coincidence? Don't think so.
I woke up on Saturday ready to get back to it. "IT" being riding with a purpose and a sense of togetherness. I am not sure Speedy G woke up the same way, but he eventually got the message. I wore a nice collared shirt, good breeches (the ones I like to save for lessons), and my field boots (which I've never done before - I usually carry them reverently in their bag and put them on only immediately before riding). I am sure this all sounds pretty feeble to you, but the point was to go to the barn in a purposeful, meaningful, professional way. No more pussy-footing around, whining, or excuse making.
If nothing else, this blog helps me see things more clearly. Here is what I've seen lately: Speedy will only do what I explicitly ask him to do. He's not going to do anything extra for me. He's the kid in school who did just enough for a C. Don't get me wrong, he's not dumb. Quite the contrary. He's just a very smart pony who takes very good care of himself which means not expending any extra energy.
When I was lunging him the other day I discovered this by actually using my stick's string to thwack his butt. WOW! Finally got a reaction. After that, when I waved the stick at him with a purpose, he stepped up his pace. Aha! So, back to Saturday's "ride with a purpose" - as I led him to the arena, he kept trying to walk slower and slower. Swish, I snapped my left hand back and popped him with my dressage whip in the ribs. Aha ... again! He picked up the pace. I worked him on the lunge line with the side reins at both the trot and canter until I had him moving nicely forward. It was amazing how sound he looked!
I got on him without the side reins, added the running martingale, and used all my seat and core strength to push him forward. Toe dragging was not going to be an option, but neither was running with his nose jacked in the air. And you know what? He went forward. He did some nice round circles, good changes of direction, and even his upward transitions into the canter were done without a bunch of fussing.
I worked really hard to maintain a steady contact without throwing my outside rein away, and the ride went really well. I felt like I had a better connection using the french link snaffle rather than the Mikmar lozenge bit. He also seemed quieter in his mouth. I think that for now, the Mikmar bit might just be too thick in his smaller mouth. Last summer he worked in it much better than he had in the French link. Maybe this shows that he's learning something about acceptance of the bit.
Don't get me wrong, we have a long way to go, but it felt good to feel balanced and moving forward. And he gave me some lovely, elevated trot strides. He was truly connected from back to front which felt like I was riding a cloud. I'll take it!
A quick video of Speedy's turn out after riding. He looks more forward in the first half of the video when he was looking for me to bring him back to the barn, and pokier when he realized I was "sending" him for more work. I told you he was a smarty pants!
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%: