The Importance of Riding Accurate Figues

After a weekend of training judge candidates and watching repeated mistakes in ring figures, it seemed appropriate to discuss the importance of correct figures which effect the balance of the horse, and hence the score! 

Knowing the dimensions of the arena and placement of the letters should be part of every riders’ early education. For the purposes of this article, we will be talking about the full size 20  X 60 meter arena. 

Unfortunately there has to be some math involved! Knowing that the corner letters are 6 meters from the actual corner and the next letters are spaced 12 meters further down the long side, as well as the corresponding centerline letters (D, L, X, I, G), is crucial to knowing where to place figures and movements. Let’s take the 20 meter circle for example, when placed at A or C, on the open side of the circle, the line should cross the center line 2 meters beyond L or I (6 + 12 + 2 = 20 meters). And even for the visual learner, it is necessary to see where the centerline letters would be and to be able to gauge and develop the feel for the correct bending line as it crosses the centerline. And consequently the 20 meter circles when placed at E or B, need to cross the center line at the same point (2 meters inside from L and I). A mistake we often see are riders crossing the centerline at L and I, which for the A and C circle would make only 18 meters, and for the E and B circle would make it 24 meters! And hence making it impossible to maintain uniform bend and balance in the horse as the circle is no longer round.

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Canter Pirouettes and Working Pirouettes

Riding good canter pirouettes takes time and skill to develop.  Let’s take a look this month at understanding a little more about all of the factors that go into striving for a higher score in your pirouettes.  In our last article we discussed the walk pirouettes (and turns on the  haunches) which lays a good foundation for the same work in canter.

The definition in the USEF Rule Book for CANTER PIROUETTES begins the same as the definition for walk pirouettes.  “The pirouette (half pirouette) is a circle (half circle) executed on two tracks with a radius equal to the length of the horse, the forehand moving round the haunches.  The forefeet and the outside hind foot move round the inside hind foot which forms the pivot and should return to the same spot, or slightly in front of it, each time it leaves the ground.  The horse should be slightly bent in the direction in which he is turning and should remain on the bit with light contact with the poll the highest point.”  The HALF CANTER PIROUETTE is asked for in the Prix St. Georges test, and FULL CANTER PIROUETTES are asked for beginning with the Intermediate I test and through the Grand Prix.

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Walk Pirouettes and Turn on the Haunches

If you have ever wondered why you received a certain score on your walk pirouettes or turns on the haunches, we hope to clarify for you and break down the many components that go into coming up with that score.  And with winter fast approaching, this could be a good time to work on perfecting these movements for next season, or brush up now for the upcoming Florida show season.

Let’s start with the definition of a PIROUETTE as described in the USEF Rule Book

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      For those of you who may have wondered how a judge came to be a judge, this article might help you to understand the process of climbing the judging ladder.  
     The ‘L’ Education Program (or ‘L’ program) is where it all begins.  The ‘L’ (Learner) program is an extensive course in learning about judging dressage run by the USDF.   It consists of several weekends that cover rules, biomechanics (horse and rider), and judging methodology. 

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In past writings and talks we have always tried to project the importance of attention to detail in riding.  However, on horse show day there many other details to consider before going up the centerline.   When these details are ignored or mismanaged, it may create stress between horse and rider which then carries into our test riding.

First of all, make sure to double check the day sheets on the morning of show day to confirm your ride time.  It is possible that show management can adjust times from what was posted even just the day....... 

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We had a wonderful opportunity here in Florida last month to attend the USEF Judges’ Clinic.  Every USEF Judge is required to attend a Clinic at least once every 3 years.  Over 130 judges were in attendance.  The Clinic is a platform for judges to get together to discuss and learn of not only rule changes and updates, but mostly to focus on judging methodology.....

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When Michele asked us to do a ‘Shop Talk’ at her Show Chic store in Wellington recently, we at first weren’t sure what angle to take in presenting some insight into the judge’s perspective....Michele came up with ‘The Two Bills Share Their Two Cents’ and that paved the way for developinga presentation that covered a little bit of everything! There was a standing room only crowd that night with much enthusiasm and great questions that led to lively discussion!  And now it has led to this….

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