From Endurance to Dressage
What's In an Inch, Anyway?
Well, it depends. For me, an inch is one of the big things between me and Second Level. For Speedy, an inch is the difference between go and I don't think so.
On Tuesday afternoon, I forgot to wear spurs. I didn't notice until I was already riding. Hopping off and walking all the way back down to the barn and than back again just wasn't worth it. And then I reasoned that Speedy has learned so much in the past few months that spurs aren't really all that important anymore. I don't know where I got that idea from, but it is not true.
Speedy warmed up okay at the walk, but as soon as I asked for the trot, his hind legs decided to take the day off. I could not get him off of his forehand and there was zero attempt at any stretching of the topline. Without my spurs, the lateral work was almost non-existant. I had the whip with me, and I did use it for forward, but it wasn't the same.
FInally, I whacked him into a canter and did some collected and lengthening work to try and get him more forward. It worked to some degree, but he knew he had my number. He is going to be quite surprised when I ride him again. I won't be forgetting how important that inch is.
Showing at Second Level is a goal of mine, but teaching Speedy the movements is only half of the story. If I am totally honest, I am also holding us back.
Speedy is not the easiest horse to ride. While his rib cage is very well sprung, making him big and round, he's still not much bigger than a pony, and his gaits reflect that. He has a very quick little stride that requires a lot of coordination from his rider. I know people think sitting the trot of a big, fancy warmblood is hard, but I think it is just as difficult to sit the trot of a horse that takes twice as many strides to cross the diagonal.
I've finally reached a point in our work where the fourth hole on my stirrup leathers is just too short. It's the right length of leg for riding Izzy, but with Speedy, I'm feeling top heavy. I finally had to drop down an inch (less, really) to the next longer hole. That didn't make riding him any any easier, but I know if I stick it out, my ability to sit the trot will improve.
Who knew inches were so important?
12/22/2016 05:36:31 am
This post could have been about my QH... I forgot my spurs the other day, and I know EXACTLY what you mean! She's got the big ribcage and short compact build too, and I swear I have to work soooo much harder to get a good ride out of her than my STBs. I just keep reminding myself she's making me a stronger rider... ;)
12/23/2016 07:03:47 am
I don't know how they know, but they KNOW. :0)
Great post. Amazing what difference an inch can make! Also the difference between a 17" and 18" saddle is huge!
12/23/2016 07:06:36 am
I use a whip and baby spurs with Izzy too, but they are for obedience and not go. He too has plenty of go, but he occasionally ignores my aids. I keep the whip at his shoulder for those (rare now) times when he blows through my outside rein and the spurs are for lateral movement, not forward. Yeah ... if I goosed him with both spurs, he'd probably rocket right out of the atmosphere. LOL
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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
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Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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