Have you ever been in the middle of a dressage test, perhaps having performed a lacklustre transition, and wished you could pull up at the judge’s box to tell them “I can actually do that much better at home – mind if I give it another go?”
Alas, we all have moments like these from time to time. The one-shot nature of being in competition can be daunting enough to affect your riding – especially since you can have as many goes at a transition as you like at home. In training, you might ride a half-halt that your horse ignores, meaning he’s not sufficiently engaged to walk at B like you planned. You wait for the next letter, then the one after that until finally, at attempt 12, you ride a decent transition.
But what if we borrowed the idea that you get one shot per movement from the competition arena and applied it to our training sessions? Not only would this concept prepare you for a test situation more realistically but riding through an exercise or movement with the pace you have, not circling away and trying to create a better one, would also give you a clearer picture of where you need to improve – and how to make corrections on the move.
Exercise: Triangle transition
In Prelim 15, you’re required to turn across the arena in trot, walk for a horse’s length and pick up trot again. If you make the transition just before a triangle and walk through it base to point, this gives the perfect length, and the poles help you keep your horse’s walk active. You can do this exercise anywhere in the arena, but to practise this particular movement build it so that X sits in the centre of the middle triangle.
Challenge level: easy – addicted to base
- In trot, look ahead to the layout and prepare yourself and your horse for the turn.
- As you straighten up, ride a half-halt in preparation for the walk transition.
- Walk just before entering the triangle at the middle of the base, encouraging forward, relaxed strides with your leg and hips.
- Just after your horse exits the triangle at the point pick up trot, preparing for the turn and change of rein by looking ahead and taking new inside flexion.
For more fantastic pole exercises to have a go at pick up a copy of Spring Horse&Rider, on sale 4 February 2021.