Friday, 20 September 2013

Horsey Harmonies

Being on a DMU Equestrian team requires riders to be skilled in two disciplines; dressage and show jumping.

BUCS University level dressage is a Preliminary test standard that consists of basic walk, trot and canter transitions with circles, serpentines, loops and rein changes throughout. Training for dressage differs from show jumping as it requires a more concentrated focus on rounding the horse and following an accurate, forward test. Riders are marked out of 10 for their ability to complete a set exercise within the test for each transition, and collective marks are then given for effective use of aids, responsiveness of horse, rider position and overall style.

Warming up the horse is extremely important, and doing this correctly can affect marks and the grading of your test. A focus should be on getting the horse to respond to your aids and be forward off the leg from the word go, so no room for error can occur. Transitions are significant in helping both horse and rider to quickly get adjusted to one another and will allow the rider to figure out the manner of the horse which they are riding (whether they are forward or perhaps need more of a push on!) Getting the most out of the horse in a short amount of time is the key to BUCS dressage riding, and gaining a sense of how to ride your test interdependently on the horse you a given is probably the hardest skill to learn!

Gaining suppleness and flexion in the horse is something that comes from learning the art of dressage, getting them to round and soften for you without a fight and carry themselves forward in any medium. A secure position with correct leg, supple hands, deep seat and balance is key to mastering a dressage test of any level. Judges will look for a harmony between rider and horse and an acceptance of the horse to ride forward, with the bit and not fighting against the rider's aids as this creates a messy test and loss of precious marks!

This is why our A, B and C teams train every week on different horses to get to grips with riding different horses and getting the most out of them in a short space of time.

Here are some of our riders in action at Varsity 2013, riding horses from Witham Villa Riding Centre.
Charlotte Foxell on Spider

Clare Wilyman and Dexter
Gabbi Berrill and Preston
Gemma Elliott and Jay
Hannah Slinn and Willow
Jenny Walker and Victor

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