Many dressage competitors find it difficult to reproduce their horse’s best work in the arena at a show, but according to Ferdie, training for the test is all about balance.
“Arena craft is based mostly on being in charge of the horse’s balance,” says Ferdie. “There are three simple, basic things which the rider needs to be in charge of: speed, direction and the horse’s outline.
“If you are in charge of these three things you are in a position to ride a test, maybe not one that is sophisticated, but you are in a position to show off the horse to the judge.
“The key to success is to be able to control the horse when he is at maximum power — out of control power is of no use, but neither is blocking his natural expression.
“Problems with individual movements, whether riding a simple diagonal or a half-pass, occur mainly because of lack of balance, engagement or acceptance of the aids.
“When you enter the arena you are faced with four corners and a series of transitions. I tell my pupils that they can expect each individual movement to be only as good and as balanced as the corner was went before it.
“When the rider can use the corner to set the horse up with optimum engagement, self-carriage and bend, then the subsequent movements should be well-rewarded by the judges. Corners are the key to getting good test marks.”
Do you have a problem which you would like Ferdie’s expert advice on? Or maybe a query about how to get the very best out of your horse when it matters at a show? Email your questions to email@example.com or (fax: 020 7261 5429).