From Endurance to Dressage
Western States Horse Expo - Friday
Stella and I hit the road just before 6:00 a.m. on Friday morning, and cruised into Sacramento a little after 11:00 a.m. Both horses traveled well and stood quietly in the trailer for the next hour and a half as we sorted out our stabling situation. It was disorganized at best, but in the end, both horses had a place to sleep.
Our first demo rides were at 4:00, so our horses didn't get much time to settle in and relax. Even so, Speedy and Coco were champs as we led them through the fairgrounds to the Strong Arena. The flapping banners caused some stink eye, but Chemaine's first-day exercises got both horses working happily.
Chemaine's first exercise was one that Speedy and I have done many times before. She calls it the 1-2-3-4, and it can be done at the walk and then at the trot.
After going once around the arena, the rider can then do the exercise on the other side, making the inside rein the new outside rein. In this way, the horse will be counter flexed. Once your horse is more supple, you can alternate the 1-2-3-4 from one side to the other. Finally, pick up the trot and repeat, except that instead of sitting on the inside seat bone, the rider simply weights the inside stirrup.
The next warm up exercise Chemaine showed the crowd was the walk to trot and then trot with a half halt. For the trot to walk, Chemaine encourages riders to use the 1-2-3-4 to get their horses soft and only then does she allow the horse to pick up the trot. To come back down to walk, she asks the horse to soften, and then the downward transition is balanced.
Once the horse is transitioning easily between walk and trot, she uses the transitions within the gait to even further supple the horse. Chemaine asked us to slow the trot and get a stretch down. When the horse was soft, she had us send him forward into a bigger trot only to ask again for a slow down. This exercise really helps the horse engage his hind end.
Once the horses were warmed up, Chemaine had us do much the same thing at the canter: lengthen and then collect the stride.
Chemaine is such a good instructor that I can confidently put all of my faith in her. I know that she's never going to ask me to do something that is too big of a stretch. Knowing that, I never have any anxiety about "performing" in front of an audience. Quite the opposite in fact.
Speedy is such a rock star in front of crowds that I always feel completely at ease riding him. Sure, he can spook just as well as the next horse, but he doesn't come into the arena looking for trouble. He gets excited, but he quickly relaxes and then seems to relish being in the lime light.
Each day of the Expo, Speedy just got better and better. He relaxed even more, but was still willing to work hard (except for that moment when he didn't). More on Expo tomorrow.
6/14/2017 09:58:41 am
I love your charcoal breeches! And the whole get up, incl. wool pad. From the photos it looks as if your belt matches his browband which also catches highlights from your helmet.
6/19/2017 08:08:01 am
You're too funny, Lytha! Gray/white horses are easy to accessorize as they look good in anything, especially black!
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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%: