Second level canter serpentine’s
USEF ‘S’ Dressage Judge : FEI Trainer : AADA Founder
TRAINING THE MOVEMENTS SERIES
Other movements in Second Level which have coefficients are the canter serpentines of equal loops on both leads. The movement in box #20 reads “C-A Serpentine three equal loops width of the arena, no change of lead.” For this movement the horse will be on the left lead. The movement in box #24 reads “A-C Serpentine three equal loops width of the arena, no change of lead.” For this movement the horse will be on the right lead. The directives are the same for both serpentines: “Regularity, quality and balance of canter, positioning, geometry”
These directives are similar to the canter loops in First Level Test 3 but at Second Level this serpentine is in collected canter which should show a horse accepting weight on the hindquarters with an uphill tendency.
So for “Regularity and quality” the canter should show a clear 3 beat rhythm with jump and activity. Often I see a horse change the rhythm to 4 beats on the middle loop, or become “lateral” as the horse starts to pull with its shoulders rather than carry on its haunches.
Next the judge looks at the balance. This is where the horse clearly must maintain an uphill balance off its forehand. Sometimes a loss of balance is shown with a flying change or a break to trot or walk especially on the middle loop. This will receive a score of insufficient or lower. For horses beginning to school flying changes this is a very challenging movement and the rider has to remain focused to keep her/his body centered to keep counter canter aids clear. Likewise if a beautifully rhythmic uphill balanced elastic horse ridden with accuracy is presented, the score could be very high.
Next, the judge will look at the “positioning.” This means that the poll is flexed in the direction of the canter lead. Counter flexion or over bending of the neck will bring the score down.
Geometry is also crucial. If the serpentine loops are asymmetrical, the horse could lose balance. Each loop is the half of a 20 meter circle. So while some Second Level riders forget how to ride a 20 meter circle, it is crucial to remember for this movement. If the middle loop is larger in the counter canter than the other two loops, this makes the movement easier and the score will go down. It is also important to note that riders must cut the corners when starting the first loop and ending the third to make the loops round and geometrically correct. The corners after the third loop, as in all corners of Second Level, should be ridden as one quarter of a 10 meter circle. A diagram of a “serpentine, width of the arena” is pictured in the USEF Rule Book in the Dressage section, DR110.
The last two coefficient movements in Second Level Test 3 are the simple changes of lead in the canter.
The first simple change is from the left to right lead in box #21. It reads “F-E Change rein, L simple change, E-H-C-M Collected canter.” The second simple change is from the right lead to the left in movement #25 “M-E Change rein, I Simple change, E-K Collected Canter.”
In the USEF rule book DR105.7, the definition of a simple change states: “This is a movement in which, after a direct transition out of the canter into a walk, with three to five clearly defined steps, an immediate transition is made into the other canter lead.”
In reviewing the directives for movements 21 and 25, the judge looks at “Clear, balanced, straight transitions.” For a high score the canter approaching L or I should be clear 3 beat rhythm, in an uphill collected canter. The walk should be clear 4 beat rhythm and centered on either side of L or I. The canter depart to the new lead, should be the same uphill quality as the canter before the walk. For straightness, a rider could ride a shoulder fore into and out of the walk. Trot steps in to or out of the walk will result in a lower score. Only trot steps shown is a not a simple change and the score could be 2 or lower.
The judge also looks at “Quality of the gaits” which refers to primarily the clear rhythm of the canter and walk.
This is another challenging movement at this level with many elements for a rider to focus on and for a judge to review. Simple changes help the development of flying changes and a clear canter walk canter presentation will help horse and rider prepare for requirements in Third Level.
Until Next Time,
AADA was conceived by Lisa Schmidt, a USEF S dressage judge, USDF Gold, Silver and Bronze medalist, coach to many successful Adult Amateurs and former USDF Region 1 Director. Her vision is to make the AADA an educational and community building resource to promote the AA in dressage.
Visit her on her training page at: Lisa K Schmidt