Horse Riding Lessons Blog
Now you’re staring at the test sheets and wondering how to make sense of them. What do the numbers mean and what are the capital letters for? What are ‘medium walk’ and ‘free walk’? What is ‘working trot’? This looks complicated!
Read on and you’ll find out how simple it really is. You’ll also discover that you’ve already learned the different walks and the correct trot during your horseback riding training.
The numbers in the left column of the test sheet refer to the movements. There are 9 of them and the judge will give you a mark out of ten for each one.
The number 2 appears at intervals on the right side of the page: this indicates that your score out of ten for that movement will be doubled. At the Introductory Level the trot circles and free walk carry double scores.
The letters refer to the markers on the outer perimeter of the arena where you’ll be riding the test. You may have these letters already placed at intervals round the arena where you usually ride, especially if your horse is at a boarding barn with competitive riders. From now on, you’ll be paying more attention to them, as you need to perform each movement exactly where the test tells you.
Here is a link to diagrams of the dressage arena. You’ll see two sizes: the small arena and the standard arena. Normally you would ride your Introductory Tests in the small arena, and for your first few shows it’s a good idea to make sure this is the case at the competition venues you choose.
It’s very helpful to go on foot to a show and see how the tests are ridden.
Next we’ll be looking at the test movements (including medium and free walk, and working trot) and the directive ideas on the sheets.
http://www.dressageamerica.com/dressage_arena_new.htm Here is a link to diagrams of the dressage arena. You’ll see two sizes: the small arena and the standard arena. Normally you would ride your Introductory Tests in the small arena, and for your first few shows it’s a good idea to make sure this is the case at the competition venues you choose.
A common worry about horseback riding, for beginners, is what to do if they need to stop the horse.
If beginner riders feel confident of being able to stop a horse, they can relax in the saddle.
How to Stop Your Horse
Event riders use a less drastic version of this to check a galloping horse when it approaches a cross-country fence with a little too much speed. I’ve used it many times and it’s a very effective way of slowing a horse down as well as stopping him.
Step 1: Brace yourself against the horse’s movement by jamming your heels down and pushing your legs forwards.
Don’t let your heels come up, as the horse can yank you forwards.
Step 2: Hold one rein on the horse’s neck, keeping it very taut.
Step 3: Hold the other, shortened, rein in your strongest hand.
If you’re right handed, your left hand should hold the taut left rein on the horse’s neck, with the other rein in your right hand.
Step 4: Push your left hand (with the rein in it) into the horse’s neck for leverage…
Step 5: ….while your right hand pulls hard on the right rein. That is the reason for doing this with your strongest hand.
This will stop your horse.
Clearly during a lesson on horseback riding for beginners you won’t be put into a sticky situation simply to practice an emergency stop!
However, gently practice the above steps while your horse is halted, and use a softer version when he’s walking, just to reassure yourself that you really can stop him.
Knowing you have this ‘weapon’ available to you will calm any fears you may have about controlling your horse.