Perfecting your prelim 15: accuracy, rhythm and impulsion

Welcome to the sixth Horse & Hound e-Training lesson with grand prix dressage rider Keith Robertson. Now that the series is well under way it’s time to think about what judges are looking for at prelim level. This week we focus on accuracy, rhythm and impulsion so that you can really push up your percentages when riding prelim 15.

Session 1: accuracy and rhythm 

At prelim level it’s important to keep your horse attentive. You need to work on keeping the same rhythm for long distances without variation while showing positive paces.

Simple polework exercises can help if you struggle with maintaining your horse’s rhythm and balance, and focus both your own and your horse’s mind.

To try at home…

Use circles to gain the horse’s attention and focus on accuracy. You don’t have a fence line when riding your circle in prelim 15, so practise riding quarter turns, rather than an oval. If your circle is misshapen look to see if you’ve had too much or too little bend – you don’t need much at this level. 

Set out four poles on a 20m circle at the four points of a clock face. Canter around the poles first and then raise them, altogether or one by one, depending on your horse’s level.

This will help keep your horse supple through the turn and also help with his rhythm and balance. The exercise should help your horse to sit in the canter, carry himself and lighten the forehand more easily.

Let others know if you found this session useful by sharing your progress and pictures with the rest of our e-Community.

Session 2: impulsion 

If your horse lacks impulsion you must train him to become responsive to your aids, rather than ignoring them.

To try at home…

Practise walk to trot transitions to keep your horse alert. Use quick, sharp aids – don’t nag.

If he’s slow to respond to the upward transition, use one quick aid from your leg and try clicking with your tongue. Carry a schooling whip if needed.

If he goes forwards quickly don’t restrict him in the mouth and give mixed messages – if necessary school with a neck strap. Praise him when he goes forward immediately.

This will help train him to go off light, effective aids so that when you come to ride your test it looks effortless and you don’t need as much work to keep the forward impulsion.

Repeat this until your horse understands he is to go off a light leg aid.

Session 3: practise the whole test

It’s now time to practise riding the test as a whole, but first watch this week’s test riding video with Isobel Wessels:

Although we will focus on other movements throughout the series, ensure that you’re comfortable with the following:

  • Riding in a 20x60m arena
  • Half circle 20m diameter in free walk (double score)
  • Quick, sharp transitions

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