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Some basic dressage-test questions...uncharted territory!

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  • Some basic dressage-test questions...uncharted territory!

    I have some questions that I was hoping you all could help me with. This is a totally new ring for me, and the more I visualize a test, the more questions I have. I hope they are not too ridiculous. So...
    -When you start a movement at a letter, do you start when the horses head reached the point or their hind-end reaches it?
    -I would assume that there is a distinct difference from riding a corner vs. a 20m circle, is much importance placed on that?
    -My best transitions, either up or down, from the trot, involve me sitting a couple strides...is incorporating the sitting & posting frowned upon?
    -How do you pick up your reins from the free-walk? I seem to futz with them too much...
    -Any tips on riding that 20m circle a perfect, 20m?

    And, lastly, if you incorporate the transitions along one long-side versus using the corners, will the judges score you higher? I'm not sure if that is a stupid question, but it seems like that would require the most balance, precision, and submission...but they give you ample room to make the transition, so?

    Yes, these are the things that give me the most angst when visualizing my dressage test. I'm primarily a h/j rider, who decided to dabble in eventing, and boy, do I have questions! I've always incorporated quality dressage instruction into my riding, but haven't spent any time discussing actual tests. I have a 'Ride-A-Review' this weekend, but I have to get through the first test...without offending the judge

    The help is truly appreciated
    Last edited by goodmorning; Mar. 24, 2011, 01:53 PM.

  • #2
    I've always been told you begin when the horse's shoulder reaches the letter. (that said, you should probably be preparing the horse for the movement a stride or two ahead...that's something I still have to work on)

    There's less a difference to riding corners than you think. I had a dressage instructor basically tell me that going, say, around a corner and up a centerline is a bit like doing half a 10 meter circle. They're not looking for 90 degree turns, they actually want to see rounded corners.

    I've always been told if you post the trot in the test, you need to post the trot the whole time. I can't imagine that sitting a stride or two into the trot and down out of it would be that frowned on, though, especially if it allows you to better balance your horse for the transition.

    Uh...I think I'd have to actually do it and pay attention to what I'm doing then come back and tell you how I pick them up. At about 1:44 on this video you can see me pick them up. Whether that's correct or not is up for debate. That's only our second dressage show.

    Lastly, for 20 meter circles, the same dressage instructor told me to ride a diamond (counter-intuitive, huh?). When I remember to do this instead of trying to force my horse into a circle, our circles magically get about 10x better.
    The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
    Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

    Comment


    • #3
      I am not a professional trainer, so this is just my $0.02

      Originally posted by goodmorning View Post
      -When you start a movement at a letter, do you start when the horses head reached the point or their hind-end reaches it?
      I was always taught that it should be when YOU (on the horse obviously lol) reach the letter...

      Originally posted by goodmorning View Post
      -I would assume that there is a distinct difference from riding a corner vs. a 20m circle, is much importance placed on that?
      Again I was taught that it depends on the level you are training at. At lower levels, it is not necessary to go as deep into the corner as in a higher level. BUT at the same time the judge will be looking to see if you use your corner to your advantage (rebalancing etc as needed)...

      Originally posted by goodmorning View Post
      -My best transitions, either up or down, from the trot, involve me sitting a couple strides...is incorporating the sitting & posting frowned upon?
      I agree with analise: choose to either post or sit throughout, but transitions (up or down) are done from the sitting trot...

      Originally posted by goodmorning View Post
      -How do you pick up your reins from the free-walk? I seem to futx with them too much...
      My only suggestion is to do it gradually so that when you hit your next letter you are ready for the next movement. Some people put a bit of yarn or something to mark their place to avoid messing around with them - maybe that will help?

      Originally posted by goodmorning View Post
      -Any tips on riding that 20m circle a perfect, 20m?
      I always just think of making sure my inside leg is pushing my horse into my outside rein and usually (as long as you are using your outside rein correctly) that will make a pretty darn good circle lol


      Originally posted by goodmorning View Post
      And, lastly, if you incorporate the transitions along one long-side versus using the corners, will the judges score you higher? I'm not sure if that is a stupid question, but it seems like that would require the most balance, precision, and submission...but they give you ample room to make the transition, so?
      Usually the test is standardized (unless I missed something in your post - sorry!) so you do your transitions where the test tells you to. At lower levels, it will be between 2 letters but at other levels it will be at one exact letter. I would follow the test...

      Good luck

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by analise View Post
        I've always been told you begin when the horse's shoulder reaches the letter.
        Thanks

        Comment


        • #5
          I've been at this game a long time and though a few things have changed re: judging, most of it has stayed the same. It's been a few years since I've sat at C but fwiw here's my take on your questions:

          1) the movement should always commence when rider's body is parallel with the letter. Aim for absolute precision.
          2) Yes, riding proper corners is VERY important. Keep a good connection with the outside rein, bend around inside leg and show a distinct difference in the track you take when circling... exact degree of bend depends on level of training but aim for 10-12m if possible.
          3) No problem with sitting for transitions.
          4) Picking up reins varies with horse and rider. I generally prefer to widen my hands slightly in FW, giving me a wee bit less to pick up again, and like to take up outside rein first. Hold both reins in inside hand, reach forward on outside rein and take up about 3/4 to the point where you want to be in working walk. Then match with inside rein. Make further small adjustments to get horse back on the aids. Emphasis for judge will be on consistency of contact and rhythm.
          5) As previous poster said, consider riding 20m circle as four quarter, each with same degree of bend. If you can the bend right and keep it, and visualise moving toward each of the four points of the circle you'll have an easier time. Also, for young or green horses it can help to plan a bigger circle than you actually want, as they tend to fall in more in a show environment (again depends on the indiv).

          hope that helps!
          Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

          Comment


          • #6
            [QUOTE=goodmorning;5504280]I have some questions that I was hoping you all could help me with. This is a totally new ring for me, and the more I visualize a test, the more questions I have. I hope they are not too ridiculous. So...
            -When you start a movement at a letter, do you start when the horses head reached the point or their hind-end reaches it?

            ******You start the movement when the horse's shoulder reaches it.

            -I would assume that there is a distinct difference from riding a corner vs. a 20m circle, is much importance placed on that?

            Absolutely, however the degree of tightness or smallness of the corner increases as you go up the levels. Riding it as a 20m will lose you points, ride it closer to the arc of a 10m.

            -My best transitions, either up or down, from the trot, involve me sitting a couple strides...is incorporating the sitting & posting frowned upon?

            *****Correctly, transitions from walk to trot and trot to canter should involve a moment of sitting. On the upward it helps stabilize the transition, and enable the rider to better execute the half halt. the same when downward transitioning.

            -How do you pick up your reins from the free-walk? I seem to futx with them too much...

            ******Quietly a stride or two before the letter.

            -Any tips on riding that 20m circle a perfect, 20m?

            ******That answer to that question is worth a pot of gold. Think of it as being a continuous arc putting your legs on that curve, and making sure both sides of the horse stay between your legs. Practice under the harp eye of an instructor who can correct you stride by stride.


            And, lastly, if you incorporate the transitions along one long-side versus using the corners, will the judges score you higher? I'm not sure if that is a stupid question, but it seems like that would require the most balance, precision, and submission...but they give you ample room to make the transition, so?


            *****Whether you use the corner, or do your transition on the long side makes no difference. the judge is observing the quality of the transition in this case.

            Yes, these are the things that give me the most angst when visualizing my dressage test. I'm primarily a h/j rider, who decided to dabble in eventing, and boy, do I have questions! I've always incorporated quality dressage instruction into my riding, but haven't spent any time discussing actual tests. I have a 'Ride-A-Review' this weekend, but I have to get through the first test...without offending the judge

            The help is truly appreciated .

            *********Good luck!! Have fun!!
            Last edited by merrygoround; Mar. 24, 2011, 02:39 PM.
            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

            Comment


            • #7
              How to pick up the reins...

              This is how I was taught (eventing perspective) as you have to slip the reins often in eventing and pick up your reins quickly & gracefully.

              1. With one hand holding reins on buckle (say it's your RIGHT)
              2. Take other hand (LEFT) and slide over both reins all the way up to the short length/by the neck
              2a. You'll have to lift-back with your RIGHT hand, simultaneously, to let the LEFT hand reach forward and get the appropriately-shorter rein length)
              3. hold both reins with that LEFT hand
              4. take the other hand (RIGHT) and place it with the LEFT HAND holding the short-length reins
              5. Now you are holding a shorter/contact rein - one in each hand

              Not sure if that describes it well enough. Jimmy Wofford covers this in a video, which is easier to visualize of course.

              Also - I'm not sure if that is the most correct way in a dressage test. But it's how I do it, whether I'm riding western in rope reins, or on XC, or on a trail ride
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
              www.elainehickman.com
              **Morgans Do It All**

              Comment


              • #8
                I asked the "where is at the letter really at" question recently at a show. Seems different judges have different ideas of where it is. Some want it when the horse's nose is at the letter. Others when the shoulder is. Others when the rider's leg is.

                As for corners...corners are corners, not 20 meter circles. So how deep? All my trainers/coaches answers have been only as deep as your horse can maintain his balance. As you go up the levels, the corner gets deeper.

                I use cones to give me visual markers to aim for when working on circles, no matter the size. I am really bad at making circles :-) "Ride the line" is something I hear ALOT. As a H/J rider, this may help you with the circle. Find your line.

                When a transistion is called for between letters, you should try to do it the at the place in the space on each side. I think most people start to ask for it when "at" the first letter so as to have it done about mid way between the letters. If right at the first letter it often looks abrupt. At the last letter it tends do look late. Just where ever you do it the first time, be sure to do it about the same place if it asked for a second time.

                Picking up the reins from free walk drives me nuts too. Start at the quarter line so you have some time, and so the horse is actually in the medium walk at the letter. Some one suggested a piece of yarn on the reins so you go back to the right spot. I have tied knots in my reins that are at what I call "the spot" I want when she is going correctly. I ride longer when warming up and in free walk. I ride shorter than that when I am working on "harder" stuff that she needs to be more "up" for. And of course I know where to go back to from free walk. It is just my "point of refernce" even though I ride in web reins with stops. This way I can have the knot in my hand, at my thumb, at my pinky, etc. And the judge can't see it. Or at least I have never gotten a comment about the knots.

                And, I too am an eventer. So of course I struggle with dressage. I have found there are some subtle technique differences between the 2. Not major, but subtle.

                Comment


                • #9
                  To visualize 20 M circles, I actually got a length of 10M nylon rope and marked out a circle with it from X - using B, E, and the centerline. That way I could develop a point of reference on the centerline to know how far out to go before arcing back to B or E.

                  The people in the barn probably thought I was nuts, but it worked for me.

                  Good luck!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Tips on riding a good 20 meter circle.....

                    Collect a lot of empty milk cartons or cones or flower pots - whatever you can use for markers. Form a clock, with two circles of markers. A pair at 12, a pair at 1, a pair at 2, etc., all the way around. Use a lunge line or rope or hay string or something to help you measure off 10 meters, and place your markers around the circles. Then - without your horse - go and walk that circle several times each way.

                    Ride the horse around that clock at a walk, a trot and a canter, several times each way. Count the strides in a quarter of your circle.

                    Go where the clock isn't - other end of the arena - and see if you can ride a circle with the same number of strides in each quarter.

                    Go back to the clock. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

                    Make an honest effort to have the horse bend properly and consistently, then the horse will make the circle for you.

                    Also, having someone lunge you on a 20 meter circle helps to make muscle memory for you. You can close your eyes and really focus on the feel of the size of the circle.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The appropriate depth of the corners is outlined in the new USEF dressage rules, it varies according to the level/training of the horse as mentioned already.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The best beginner book I've found is Lessons with Lendon - the last chapters pull together these key pieces, in a fun, nonthreatening, easy to follow format.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Thanks for all the pointers, they were a big help the tests went - as I figured...7s on the canter & collective gaits...some 4s for some green TB moments - "inattentive" - Putting it midly...

                          It was a great format, I even managed 7s for my centerline attempts - on the 2nd try totally overshot it the first attempt, and resembled a drunken sailor trying to find it again. The judge mentioned hitting the midway-points on the wall & X to try and keep things symmentrical (20m circle), covered corner usage, and several other things that make me feel much more comfotable in the ring. This judge also punishes overbending heavily, which is good to keep in mind/when I show in front of him (does several shows in the area). Much rather have a straight horse, even if the connection isn't as steady - in my case camel trot- than on overbent one...at the lower levels its particularly frowned upon...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I was recently in Austin as an auditor at a judging seminar with Maryal Barnett . She said that in training and 1st level where it says that unless otherwise specified that you can do sitting or posting trot, that you could do either or a combination of the two without penalty. She also said that the movements should be executed with the letter at the horse's shoulder.
                            "I reject your reality and substitute my own" Adam Savage--Mythbusters
                            <><

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I asked the "where is at the letter really at" question recently at a show. Seems different judges have different ideas of where it is. Some want it when the horse's nose is at the letter. Others when the shoulder is. Others when the rider's leg is.
                              I find this really strange. The USEF rules (DR122.7.b) explicitly state:

                              "In a movement which must be carried out at a certain point of the arena it should be done at the moment when the competitor’s body is above this point, except in transitions where the horse approaches the letter from a line diagonal or perpendicular to the point where the letter is positioned. In this case, the transition must be done when the horse’s nose reaches the track at the letter so that the horse is straight in the transition."

                              How is it that there have been so many authoritative answers that contradict this? (My husband has been going through the L program, this is certainly something taught there.)

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                The whole purpose of the option of sitting or posting is that you can do whatever is best for your horse at the time. So you can switch from one to the other. And yes you should sit the trot for transitions.
                                Friesians Rule !!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  You should read the USEF rule book. It is on their website. It very clear and addresses most of your questions.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by friesian4me View Post
                                    The whole purpose of the option of sitting or posting is that you can do whatever is best for your horse at the time. So you can switch from one to the other. And yes you should sit the trot for transitions.
                                    THIS. You have been given some good advice and some very bad advice here. One piece of bad advice is that you need to pick rising or sitting and never switch during the test. In Training and First levels, unless otherwise stated, you may do either, and you may do both during a test.

                                    As blackhorse6 wrote, reading the rules will give you much better information than asking on a BB and getting advice from people who haven't read them either.
                                    Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I also imagine the circle like a clock. I count the number of strides in each quarter. My horses's working trot is 12 strides per quarter. If I do 12 strides in each quarter my circle is perfect. It also helps me to breathe and focus as well. I turn my sholders slightly towards the inside of the cirvle and look ahead. Who knew a simple circle could be so hard to master! I had all the same questions you do teo years ago. Good luck and don't forget to breathe and smile
                                      Gallop on

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by friesian4me View Post
                                        The whole purpose of the option of sitting or posting is that you can do whatever is best for your horse at the time.
                                        This was a key point the judge repeatedly brought up test after test He said at the lower levels, often times the horse doesn't have the back developed enough - or enough saddle time/training - to be shown off best when the rider is sitting, as they probably aren't comfortable or strong enough in the back for the rider to be sitting. Nearly every LL rider choose to do the 2nd test posting, and the regularity in the horses gaits, as well as impulsion, and length of stride, increased. There are no bonus points given for a sitting trot (when you have the option)- particularly when it doesn't show off the horse

                                        In the Eq ring, you only sit if you are asked or if it is perfect. So, this made total sense to me...not to mention, my TB prefers a light seat. It doesn't mean we don't train these things at home, but the point of the test is to show off what you've got...

                                        A really positive experience for myself, I think this type of thing is great for those learning. Yes, you can read the rule-book, but when the judge takes the time to explain the reasons behind the rule, and the shaded areas, it's very helpful

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