The Collective Marks – Riders Position

In The Collective Marks series of blogs I have covered a great deal to help you understand the importance of concentrating on how the collective marks work and what you need to do to improve them.

collective#In your collective marks, at the end of your test sheet, the judge will give an overall score for their perception of how you and your horse performed THROUGHOUT THE TEST.  It is their opinion as to how you as a combination conducted yourselves and the overall impression you left them with as the test progressed.

Here’s the blog series to help you …

Collective Marks

The collective marks in a test can mean the difference between winning and not winning.

But for me that is not the aim of the game, for me the collective marks are about feedback on the very basics of your training and what you should concentrate on most of all when you get your test sheet.

Today we look at ‘Rider’s Position and Seat; correctness and effect of the aids’.

Interestingly in the British Dressage Rulebook the subject is called ‘The position and aids of the athlete’ – very apt. If you do not already think of yourself as an athlete, you really should.  Your fitness has an immense impact on your ability to ride dressage.  Often riders hunt for hugely athletic horses, yet they don’t think of themselves as the athlete. In order for you to perform at your optimum level; to achieve harmony with your horse you will need to, not only think of yourself as an athlete, but take steps to become one.

I digress, very slightly, suffice to say that in order for you to gain the edge over your fellow competitors in the collective marks you must be an athlete.

Back to the rulebook – This ‘rider’s position and seat; correctness and effect of the aids’ subject is vast and complicated.  Each of the following statements is in the rulebook.   To help you with each subject I have given you a link to a previously written post to drill down into the subject.

  1. SpencerAll the movements should be obtained with imperceptible aids and without apparent effort of the athlete.

It is always with a sense of wonder that I watch skilled riders like Spencer Wilton who truly achieved this.

Less is More

  1. The athlete should be well-balanced and elastic.

Good Balanced Position

Imbalances – Gosh that many!


  1. Sitting deep in the centre of the saddle.

Rider Asymmetry – Muscle Memory

Psoas Muscles – Discover Your Dressage Seat

Great Seat, Terrific Legs, Soft Hands

One Sided Riding

  1. Smoothly absorbing the movement of the horse with his loins and hips, supple thighs with the legs steady and stretched well down.

Is It Me Or Is It My Horse

Open Your Hips – Eureka Moment

Why I Want To Feel The Force Of My Horse’s Hind Legs In My Ass!

Losing Stirrups – Anne’s Creepy Legs

Psoas Release

  1. The heels should be the lowest point.

Well Heeled

  1. The Upper part of the body should be tall and supple.

N – Is for Neutral Spine

  1. The contact should be independent from the athlete’s seat.

I – Is for Independence

  1. The hands should be carried steadily close together with the thumb as the highest pointHands

Contact – A Controversial Subject

Throw Away The Rulebook – Good Hands

  1. ArmsAnd the straight line from the supple elbow through the hand to the horse’s mouth. The elbows should be close to the body.

Are You Aware You Have Arms?

  1. All of these criteria enable the athlete to follow the movements of the horse smoothly and freely.

Is It Me Or Is It My Horse

Seek a Contact

  1. The effectiveness of the athlete’s aids determines the precise fulfilment of the required movements of the test. There shall always be the impression of a harmonious co-operation between horse and athlete.Harmony

H – Is For Harmony

Cadence – Or Should I Say Harmonic Rhythm

  1. Riding with both hands is obligatory at FEI Dressage Events. When leaving the arena at a walk on a long rein after having finished the test the athlete may, at his own discretion, ride with only one (1) hand.

The final paragraph, this is when you punch the air because your test has gone so brilliantly! lol

So, lots to help you there. In my experience, very few trainers give real weight to their pupils understanding and focusing on the collective marks and if you pay lip service to this you will not have a full understanding of the aims of your test.

See you soon, you have lots to do … Enjoy!

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster


2 Responses

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading this series on collective marks so far! I’ve never been a fan of dressage or schooling, but since buying my ex racer, I have really enjoyed retraining him.

    I took him to a small Intro B test a month ago and scored 6s and 7s in our collective marks. But they meant very little to me until reading this!

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