The Crystal System is all about finding clarity in your approach and keeping things simple. By simple I don’t necessarily mean ‘less’ but actually finding the heart of the matter. Reducing what you need to do to its very essence ensuring nothing more could be taken away without it becoming ineffective, likewise, anything that you add is unnecessary and would only really create clutter and confusion.
All that we aspire to do will go through an evolution; a cycle of development until the process finds its ‘essential state’. Learning something new usually creates some seemingly chaotic input, making it hard to separate the relevant and essential elements from the irrelevant. As you learn more you start to set the pieces of the puzzle together for yourself, eventually arriving at the mastery stage.
Let’s take a look at some of the most straightforward subjects in dressage training and try to find the heart of them – beginning with riding a 20 metre circle.
Ask … “What is at the heart of The 20 Metre Circle?”
The 20 meter circle is one of the most important training figures in Dressage, from the introductory tests through to Grand Prix, in fact it could be said that the 20 metre circle is at the heart of all Dressage. It is one of the first figures taught to beginner riders and young or green horses. Due to its size, it doesn’t require that the horse or rider have incredible skills to be able to ride moderately well, but one thing is for sure, if you don’t pay attention to perfecting your circle work, with the goal of unconscious competence (mastery), you will not become sufficiently skilled to move up the levels.
The 20 metre circle is a test of your ability to accurately ride a basic pattern
Now I really don’t want to be stating the obvious, but I feel I must – the 20 metre circle should be round! NOT egg or pear-shaped. Each side of the arena (where the circle touches the outside of the arena) should only be met at a single point (as shown in diagram). This means that you do not ride along the outside of the arena for any period of time. There are absolutely NO straight elements to a circle and your horse should bend throughout. Touch the sides and immediately off.
Continue reading Novice Test – The 20 Metre Circle
My little horse, A.K. is a little sore at the base of the neck, so she’ll be having the physiotherapist and maybe acupuncture and whilst I wait for these guys to do their stuff there’s no exercise for her.
I have noticed over the last few weeks that the winter with its unforgiving and energy sapping coldness has taken it’s toll on my fitness, my breeches feel a little tighter and I feel more tired after riding than I did back in September!
So, I’m taking the opportunity A.K. has presented me in not being able to ride to attempt to my bring my fitness to match hers. I got to thinking, if she can work through all the movements in a test the least I can do is try So, my new rider fitness regime is about resistance, interval and circuit training – but with a difference! I’ m using the arena to literally run through my tests.
There’s an added bonus … I’m learning my tests!
So, resistance comes from running in the arena against the silica sand and plastic granules surface, interval comes from going from jogging the working trot, running the canter, sprinting the medium canter, skipping the medium trot, walking the walk and shaking out in the free walk. The movements come so quickly, one after the other as they do for your horse and whilst I am improving my fitness in this way I’m thinking about where the half-halts are, which bend I should be taking and the accuracy of the movements.
Continue reading The Novice Test – Rider Fitness
[dropcap]I had[/dropcap] a surprising email from the U.S. recently asking me why we English riders DO NOT use ‘backing up’ in our training. She had been advised by an English instructor … “we NEVER back a horse up!” The instructor couldn’t really say why she never backs a horse up, just that it’s not done. The question was “I can work with answers that have content and rationale. I can’t work with answers that are ‘just because….’ do you have any thoughts as to why, in English schooling, horses are never backed up?
My dear Dressage enthusiasts, we all know this not to be true.
So, somewhat bemused, I responded advising my new American friend that we do indeed ‘back up’ our horses. It’s called rein back and is in every test from Novice to Grand Prix.
An example of what you will find in a test is …
C Rein back (for one horse’s length)
CH Medium Walk
So, let’s have a look at the whys and wherefores.
Why Do We Teach Rein Back?
Continue reading Novice Test – Rein back
The Crystal System is all about finding clarity in your approach and keeping things simple. In my new series of blogs which I have called “The Novice Test” I began with The 20m Circle and getting to the heart of what we need to do to achieve a 9. It is worth reading this blog post as a starting point to perfecting (!) your half 10m Circles
Today we explore the Half 10m Circle
The Novice Test asks for a number of movements which include the half 10m circle …
- E – Half Circle Left 10 Metres Diameter to X
- X – Half Circle Right 10 Metres Diameter to B
The half 10m circle from E to X and X to B crops up in a few of the novice dressage tests. It’s a great way for a judge to assess if you have the horse flexing and bending correctly; if you can maintain the rhythm throughout the turns; if your horse is obedient to the aids; if you, as a rider, can maintain lightness in your aids.
Here are some tips to help …
Continue reading Novice Test : Half 10m Circle
A New Year often brings new ambitions, reinvigoration of our aspirations and thoughts about how we will make the most of the very precious time we spend with our horses.
Some of you will be thinking about competing, possibly for the first time or with a new horse or maybe like me, you are thinking that 2015 will bring you opportunities you have been working towards.
With this in mind I have been looking to the requirements of the Novice Dressage Test and the essence of what the judge is looking for. I have compiled a check list of 5 questions you might want to consider and which will hopefully help you to focus on what is important.
The Novice DressageTest
It is all about the horse’s way of going and obedience. The judge is looking to see if you are on the right track with your training and by asking yourself these 5 questions, but more importantly, by being honest with your answers, you will be able to assess for yourself, before you even enter the competition arena if your work at home is up to standard.
So, ask yourself … Continue reading NOVICE TEST – 5 Questions for the Novice Dressage Rider