You will, without doubt, be heavily penalised by the judges if you do not execute the shapes within your test accurately. Accuracy of the shapes you make in the arena is essential if you are not going to drop marks that you could easily hold onto. Accuracy is a basic requirement of dressage and never the fault of the horse!
So, how do you get those all important circles, turns, diagonals and loops into your work routine as second nature? A simple yet effective method is to never do any shape in the arena that you would not find in a dressage test.
Condition yourself to be true, so for example ride a true circle be that 8m 10m 15m or 20m – (never 9m), even when you are relaxing your horse and taking a break, you should ensure that when you give the horse a loose rein and are meandering around the arena it is in a shape that you would see in the dressage test.
Change the rein across the diagonal or with a loop – it is all part of the conditioning of you and your horse to the shapes required in a test and teaching your horse to listen and be in-tune with you whatever you are doing – even when you are having a break.
If you are walking around the outside track, you are making a square and should use your corners, even though you are not actively in training mode, if you are relaxing you are still training, basically if you are in the arena – you are training!
Little bit of Dressage Trivia for you here. Where do the letters of the arena originate from?
Well, it is believed that the markings found on the walls of the Royal Manstall (Stables) of the Imperial German Court in Berlin suggest that the letters indicated where each courtier or rider’s horse was to stand and wait for their riders.
The markings found on the wall of the Hof (stable yard) at the Royal Manstall were:
A – Ausgang (Exit)
K – Kaiser (Emperor)
F – Furst (Prince)
P – Pferknecht (Ostler or Groom)
V – Vassal (Servant/Squire/Equerry)
E – Edeling/Ehrengast (Chieftan or Honoured Guest)
B – Bannertrager (Standard Bearer)
S – Schzkanzler (Chancellor of the Exchequer)
R – Ritter (Knight)
M – Meier (Steward)
H – Hofmarshall (Lord Chancellor)
Quick Tip for Geometric Circles … To aid your accuracy before your schooling session use a rake in the arena to draw a straight line from A to C and the again from B to E. This will help you to work out if your circles and shapes are accurate. It will also show you if your straight lines are straight!
Dressage, like geometry is also all about shapes and their properties.
Here’s what to do … concentrate on the shapes you make, whether you are working or relaxing, try to get into the habit of using the arena in a way that reinforces accuracy in your riding … at all times.
Patricia – The Dressage Tipster