Dressage is the art of riding a set sequence of movements in a good rhythm and balance whilst make it look as effortless as possible. However there are some simple mistakes we as riders make which loose us marks in the arena. Here are seven of the common mistakes made in movements and how they can be solved.
1. The Centre Line
Its the first and last element of every single dressage test at all levels. Its the very first mark you get, so why would you not aim to make it a good one? So many riders hear the bell ring and make a mad dash for the entrance of the arena, this often leads to an unbalanced turn and more often than not the horse over or undershooting the centre line. Then we come to the issue of the actual line itself, its only a straight line, how hard can it be right? At the lower levels a straight line can be very difficult to perform for some combinations.
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2. Riding Corners
A dressage arena is rectangular, therefore is has four corners. In every single test we as riders have to ride into these corners several times throughout the test, I often see many riders getting so deep into the corner that they have to ride a right angle turn to get back out of it without exiting the arena or even worse riders cutting the corner completely.
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All dressage tests contain circles and depending what level you are riding at, will depend on the size of the circle. At intro and Prelim 20m circles are expected, at novice 15m and from elementary onwards 10m circles in trot and canter. The biggest mistakes that riders make are the size and the shape. Often the circles are ridden either too small or too large and often resemble an egg shape or in some cases even a square.
Tips to ride a good circle
4.E half 10m circle to x half 10m circle to B
The two half circles can be found at multiple levels from intro onwards. Common mistakes include cutting the circles too tightly and allowing them to fall in around the turn others make a good initial turn and then fail to right straight before turning onto the next half circle, resulting lower marks.
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5. Free walk on a long rein.
I feel the reason people don't score as highly in this movement in a test, is because many riders don't actually understand the meaning behind the free walk. Ask any rider at the lower levels and they shall tell you that free rein is a case of letting your reins go loose and letting your horse stretch the neck. When in actual fact what the judge is looking for is for the contact to be lengthened and the horse to stretch over his back and neck as he follows the contact outwards and downwards, whilst maintaining a rhythmical walk.
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6 Give and retake the reins.
This is a movement that has often been overlooked by both riders and judges for many years. On Attending a recent judges training evening It appears to be something that is now being highlighted as a major 'marking down' and sometimes even an error of course if this movement is not performed. So it is very important that we must now be remembering to ride this movements as the potential loss of 2-4 marks could cost you a placing.
Ride it correctly by :
7. Changing the Rein.
This movement is easy to ride isn't it? I mean its just riding from one marker to another right. But I see so many riders cutting the corner before the turn and missing the marker completely or getting to the marker and making a sharp turn which throws the horse off balance.
Top tips for better marks:
I hope you have found this blog post useful and these tips really help you ride a more accurate test and gain a higher score.
Any questions please just ask and keep your eye out for future posts and videos on our social media pages (Facebook and Instagram) where we shall discuss and demonstrate everything we spoke about in this article.