Novice Test : Half 10m Circle

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

half 10m CircleToday 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 …

  • It is worth noting that the novice test asks for each element of change of direction through the  half 10m circles separately – don’t make the mistake of thinking of the movement as a ‘half figure of eight’, they are separate movements.
  • If your horse becomes unlevel in the turns , the best thing you can do is keep your hands level and the contact even to keep your horse’s shoulders level.  Use your inside leg to maintain the bend and push his body out onto the circle.
  • Both elements of the movement should be absolutely equal. Often riders make the first movement larger than the second or visa versa.  Either way you will end up having to correct the movements by asking for too much bend and having to give stronger aids then needed, if done correctly.
  • If each element is asymmetrical, you will not hit the centre line on the change of bend and the judge, who will be sitting in direct line of view will easily see your mistake.   There is no hiding place.
  • The half 10m circle should end and re-start at X. You don’t need to ride two or three strides on the centre line before you start the second movement. Ride to X, one stride and off onto your next half 10m circle.

Try these building blocks:

  • Ride 10m circles from E and B without changing the rein through X.  You’ll notice that you barely touch the centre line as you pass it and you certainly wont ride straight up the centre line for two strides!
  • Once you have mastered the a 10m circle at E or B, ride one and a half 10m circles at E.  On reaching X, ride straight up the centre line.  Notice whether you are on the centre line or not.  Is your half 10m circle accurate?
  • So, you can ride a 10m Circle at E or B and you can ride a half 10m circle from E or B to X and continue up the centre line, now introduce the change of rein at X.
  • Count the beats of your trot whilst you do this, this helps keep the symmetry and the rhythm.
  • If you are really struggling, try say one word per step, something like ‘right bend, right bend … through X … left bend, left bend’ .  It brings home just how efficient the change of bend should be.

Other novice movements incorporating the half 10m circle

I have already written about the – Teardrop turn in a previous post. Essentially in this movement, you would ride the long side of the arena, perform a half-volte toward the inside of the arena and make your way back to the wall of the long side.  To ride it correctly you have to ensure your horse is straight on the long side; is supple and flexible enough to execute a half 10m circle with forwardness and rhythm and master the change of bend as you return to the track.  All of this requires you to support your horse in an upright position thus ensuring there is no leaning in on the turns.

Finally, a word about my favourite F word.  As with all things dressage forwardness is a pre-requisite.

Whilst you may sacrifile some forwardness in the early days of mastering the 10m circle before you go in front of a judge you must ensure that your tempo is not compromised.

Have fun, as always

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster


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