Perfect your basics, says Salzgeber

  • “As 50% of marks in a test are for transitions, you must practice them at home and always ride them for eight.”

    This was just the sort of advice double team gold Olympian Ulla Salzgeber meted out to guinea pigs and spectators at the recent BEIB British Dressage National Convention at Addington Manor EC.

    With a meticulous eye for detail, she frequently returned to “foundation” topics such as the importance of riding every corner correctly — they are a quarter of a circle and should be preceded by a half-halt. The half-halt itself is always “up”, never pull back on the reins.

    Ulla was also rider-focused and encouraged her guinea pigs to improve their position to achieve their horse’s best possible performance.

    Back to basics

    • The horse must be responsive
    • The riders must use more leg
    • Don’t lose the outside rein when riding movements
    • The hands should be quiet
    • Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the horse is working well, when in fact the rein is too loose and there is not quality or impulsion

    Training tips

    It’s vital to retain the rhythm as you move from trot on a straight line to trot half-pass. Use transitions to walk, then straight into half-pass. Also, as an intermediate help use sideways steps (without the half-pass bend or a leg yield bend) to keep the quality of the trot. If you lose the quality in the half-pass, go into straight trot until the quality has improved, then re-ride the half-pass.

    Don’t teach horses to canter with the outside leg aid — this will just create confusion once you introduce lateral work.

    Rhythm of the canter is important in pirouettes. Always teach pirouettes from shoulder-fore rather than travers. Start and finish the pirouette in shoulder-fore.

    The horse must be gently flexed through the neck, but never with a backwards pulling movement.

    If a young horse changes late behind in the flying change, it is likely that the canter is not really balanced. Go back to simple changes on a circle — canter, walk, canter and control the horse’s neck.

    For every 5cm a rider shortens the horse’s neck, he will shorten 20cm in stride length

    If a horse locks his back legs in the halt, improve him by training a half-step forward as he halts.

  • Read Horse & Hound’s full report on the BEIB British Dressage National Convention in the current issue (9 December, 04)

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