From Endurance to Dressage
Sydney can pick up a right lead canter; you saw it on a video last week. When I rode last night, we simply couldn't make it appear …
We've been doing some fun stuff lately. With my trainer, we've been collecting the canter (mostly left lead), really schooling a good stretchy trot, and most recently, we've learned how to do a stretchy CANTER (left lead). Who would have thought my Jekyll/Hyde of a horse could do a stretchy canter?
It's been fun playing around with it, and more importantly, Sydney seems to really enjoy it. The stretchy canter proves whether your pony is on the forehand or not. If he's not really working over his back, he'll kind of dive into the stretchy canter and zoom through it. When the connection is good and he's carrying his own weight, you'll get a lofty canter that's got a good swing to it.
With our warm weather (it's cooled down to the high 80s) and long afternoons, I decided to take advantage and rode both ponies after work last night. Speedy reminded me of why I adore him (we got our first decent leg yield to the right that actually felt connected and "correct"), which gave me all kinds of we rock attitude. I saddled Sydney with a plan to do a little bit of stretchy canter on the left and then get one right lead canter departure.
What do they say about best laid plans?
Everything was going swell: we did our suppling exercises at the walk and trot. I asked for some nice stretchy trot and was really pleased with how light he was. We picked up a long and low canter that had the right kind of lofty feel. We took a little walk break and moved onto the right lead canter.
I spent the next 15 minutes trying everything I could think of to get the canter departure, with zero success. I am not quite sure what was wrong. After struggling with it and realizing that it just wasn't going to happen, I went and got my lunge line. As soon as I stepped away, Sydney burst into a right lead canter that looked painful. His hind end was fishtailing every which way and his head was flinging about in an effort to keep from falling down.
I brought him to a halt and unbuckled his reins in order to turn them into side reins. I tied the outside rein pretty firmly to his girth in hopes that it would give him more support. I also tied the inside rein, but I gave him a bit more room there. As soon as I asked for the canter, he looked much more comfortable and was soon cantering around in a balanced frame. He had a very surprised look on his face as well.
After just a few rounds, I quietly asked him to halt. Throughout the whole ride and lunge, I never got upset. I just kept trying to work through the problem. Sydney is so sensitive though that if he feels like he's not getting the right answer, he gets more and more tense. I told him what a good boy he was and stroked his face. We walked over to the water trough where he took a long drink. I continued to remind him of how awesome he is.
Today, I am going to put my bucking strap back on so that I can use it to really support my outside hand as I hold onto that outside rein as firmly as possible. I think we need to go back to our crabbing exercise where I push his haunches in and lead with the inside shoulder. It takes a firm hold on the outside rein to make that happen. Hopefully that works and we can get a right lead canter. That's all I am going to ask for.
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%: