‘It’s bizarre’: new dressage test divides opinion at Badminton

  • New CCI4* dressage tests were introduced at the start of this season, one of which is being performed at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, and riders have spoken up about some of their concerns with it.

    The main bone of contention is that combinations must now perform a 20m canter circle allowing the horse to “stretch forward and down” in the 2017 Four Star (4*) dressage test (A) ridden by Badminton competitors (pictured top being ridden by current Badminton dressage leader, Chris Burton).

    Paul Tapner described the canter stretch movement as “bizarre”.

    “If your horse can do the movement well, then great. We were having bets in the stables here at Badminton about how many horses were going to run off and leave the arena,” laughed Paul. “I get the idea behind the movement, but I really don’t think it’s necessary.”

    Andrew Nicholson said that this new test is “easier than the one before”.

    “We, as riders, now have more time to rearrange things. For example, once you’ve finished a half-pass, you have the short side of the arena to get things together again before you start the next movement,” explained the New Zealander. “I also think that the removal of all counter canter is a bad idea. Counter canter is a very useful training tool and it should still be included in the four-star test.”

    Ingrid Klimke is more of a fan of the new additions.

    “I think the new test is interesting and the canter stretch movement is a good thing as it shows true relaxation in the horse,” she explained. “Plus the extended canter to a flying-change movement is a useful way of showing whether the horse is through or not. I think it is a more difficult test which is also positive.”

    Belgian rider Karin Donckers said that the test suited her Badminton horse, Fletcha Van’t Verahof.

    “The new four-star test we’re riding helped my horse as he enjoys stretching and so is particularly good at the 20m canter circle where the horse has to stretch forward and down.”

    All four-stars have been using either the 2009 FEI CCI4* A or B test for the past eight years, with the exception of the Olympics which used a slightly shortened version of the B test.

    Continued below…

    The new tests no longer require half walk pirouettes, counter canter and canter serpentines, but do now include flying changes from medium and extended canter.

    Don’t miss this week’s H&H (on sale now), including a 16-page Badminton pull-out with full form guide, dressage test, judge’s analysis, course map and more. Plus don’t forget to pick up your copy of H&H next week (11 May), which will have an expert Badminton dressage comment from Peter Storr.

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