Dressage tips

Dressage riding tips

Ride accurately from letter to letter, with correct geometry and clear transitions

Your score is calculated quite scientifically by using the formula B + C +/- M = S. This means that the judge looks at the Basics (Rhythm, Suppleness, Contact, Impulsion, Straightness and Collection) plus the Criteria (requirements of that particular movement) plus or minus the Modifiers (including size, accuracy, geometry and corners). Modifiers can move the score up or down so they are important when riding any test.

So this means you need to:

  • Ensure every transition you make is clear and well-marked.
  • Ensure that your horse is correctly bent when on a circle on curved line.
  • Ensure that your circle is round and even, not square or oval. A circle should not have straight sides so if your horse is on the track for more than a stride or two the circle will not be accurate.
  • Know the correct sizes of the arena! The distance between H, G and M from the end of the arena is 6 metres. The same is true of K, D and F. All of the other letters are 12 metres apart. Therefore when riding a 20 metre circle at B or E you should cross the centre line 2 metres inside of I and L.
  • Make it your goal in training to make the horse evenly supple on both reins. Then your circles in both directions, as well as turns, loops, serpentines and lateral work will be similar if not exactly the same.

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Kim Horton

Co-Founder of EQUUS and a keen equestrian, when Kim's not at her desk she's with her horse, Waldo.

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