USEF ‘S’ Dressage Judge : FEI Trainer : AADA Founder
TRAINING THE MOVEMENTS SERIES
“How To Improve your Regional Championship Score”
Welcome back to the series, Improving your Regional Championship Score.
At Training Level the other movement with a coefficient of two is Movement #12, “B Circle right 20 meters in rising trot allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward, before B Shorten the reins, B working trot.” This movement is also in First Level test 3, movement #5 but starts at C.
20 METER CIRCLE
Let’s review the directives on the test sheet for this movement.
“Forward and downward stretch over the back into a light contact”
The rider must lengthen the reins to allow the horse’s neck to stretch downward and the nose forward to an elastic and consistent contact. (Try for nose out in front of the eyes or forehead). The rider’s hands when the horse is in balance should stay up and together with the upper body balanced over the horse’s center of gravity. So often I see riders lean over the neck with wide hands which pushes the horse onto the forehand and restricts the horse’s ability to stretch with the neck curled or set. The rider should think of encouraging the horse to stretch and trust the rider’s hands and reins. The stretch with the mouth more or less in a horizontal line with the point of the shoulder is the goal however if the horse stays balanced off the forehand, a lower stretch could be rewarded.
“Maintaining balance and quality of the trot”
This means that the horse is balanced off its shoulders and the trot tempo does not slow or quicken. Often a stretch circle can improve the quality of the trot by allowing the horse to use its back and improve the swing and cadence. Many times horses who are held up by a rider through the test will not believe that they have been “let go” and zoom around the circle with their heads up. Or a horse who has been ridden with the poll low in the test, by the time they get to this second to last movement, get even lower and run quickly onto the forehand.
This “Stretching the Frame” exercise should be practiced often at home not only as a show movement but also to improve thoroughness, balance, suppleness, obedience and relaxation which are all elements judges want to see at a competition.
“Bend, shape and size of circle”
At the Championships, you will have two judges. One at C and one at B or E. The judge on the side will see if your circle is a proper shape or an oval. The proper geometry is extremely important for any circle at B or E but especially for the stretch circle. If the horse is allowed to pull with his outside or inside shoulder onto an unrecognizable shape, it is clearly not in balance. The bend must be maintained to show suppleness
“Willing, calm transitions”
During the retake of the reins the horse must accept the contact without resistance in the mouth or poll. Likewise when the reins are given, the horse should not pull or jerk the reins out of the rider’s hands. Think of ice skating and how smooth those Olympic skaters are gliding from their own movement to movement.
Also remember that this “stretchy circle” movement starts at B but the quality of the trot is also judged after the circle all the way down to A when the last movement begins. Just because the stretch circle is over doesn’t mean you can lose focus down the long side in hopes of an accurate and balanced turn at A in the last movement.
This is true too at First Level test 3 when the trot after the stretch circle is judged right up until the first 10 meter circle at R. Keep your horse attentive and on your aids after the stretch circle!
I hope this has been helpful to those Training Level Amateur riders out there showing at your Regional Championships. If you have questions about other movements, please feel free to reach out to me on the member only Facebook page or email me through the website.
I want to see more scores in the 70’s. You can do it!
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