At the International  Eventing Forum at Hartpury College last month (3 February), 5-star international dressage judges Isabel Wessels and Andrew Gardner offered some useful tips on how eventers can raise their game in the first phase of the competition.

General test riding
1. Have the courage to change what’s happening while riding a test
2. Ride to get what you want – don’t just accept what your horse gives you if it’s not of a good enough quality/standard
3. The basic way of going is key. It’s not just about riding accurate movements
4. When the rider touches the horse with the leg, his hindleg must react
5. Remember to lighten the rein after a half halt as a reward – don’t hang on!
6. Ride transitions back and forward to get a sharper reaction from the horse
7. Think of halt as a transition in and a transition out – not just stopping
8. Corners are your friend. Keep the horse equally into both reins and in front of the leg
9. Think more trot/canter, not faster trot/canter for higher marks. Ride for a bigger, more impressive stride rather than just chasing the horse into a faster, flatter pace
10. Don’t let the horse take over. Remember every stride is yours

Improving specific movements
1. In leg yield maintain the rhythm and ride steps of equal width and length
2. For shoulder-in ride deep into the corner to help set up the correct position
3. The rider should not have to ride every stride to maintain medium trot
4. Get a good reaction at the start of medium trot, then maintain the strides — less can be more
5. When training the walk pirouette ride it bigger and more forward to keep the energy
6. To prepare for the walk pirouette, close the walk down but keep it active
7. To start the walk pirouette, set up the inside bend then turn, turn, turn
8. During the walk pirouette keep the hind legs stepping forwards towards his ears to avoid getting stuck. The walk needs to keep the 4-beat

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