ISSUE 56
JULY 2020
WHERE TO
NOW FOR EQUESTRIAN AUSTRALIA?
George Sanna
The legend continues
10 TIPS FOR RIDING
THE PRELIM TEST

PLUS: SUE-ELLEN LOVETT TELLS ALL, SOPHIE ADAMS IN THE UK, GOOD DRESSAGE PRESENTATION, EQUINE REHAB EXERCISES, RELAX WITH THE SHOULDER-IN, THE ONE-EYED JUMPER & MORE

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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ISSUE 56

CONTENTS

JULY 2020
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A few Words

FROM THE
CHAIRMAN

Opinion

EA’S VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION

BY HEATH RYAN

Showjumping

GEORGE SANNA, THE LEGEND CONTINUES

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Special feature

JOHNO & THE BLIND CHICK TELL ALL

BY ADELE SEVERS

Eventing

SOPHIE ADAMS BOILS THE BILLY IN THE UK

BY ADELE SEVERS

Showjumping

GLADIATORS OF SHOWJUMPING

WORDS & IMAGES BY MICHELLE TERLATO

Showjumping

STILL FOCUSED

WORDS & IMAGES BY MICHELLE TERLATO

Dressage

10 TIPS FOR RIDING THE PRELIMINARY TEST

BY EQ LIFE / ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Dressage

MAKING THE MOST OF GOOD PRESENTATION

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Health

CORE STRENGTHENING & BALANCE EXERCISES

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

Health

SECRETS BEHIND THE EQUESTRIAN ATHLETE

BY DR IAN NORTHEAST

Special feature

CAN HORSES RECOGNISE YOUR PHOTO?

BY ADELE SEVERS

My Favourite Dish

BEAN SOUP

WITH GEORGE SANNA
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Are you planning to ride your first Preliminary test? Whether you’re working towards getting out and competing once live competitions restart, or have entered Equestrian Life’s monthly online competition, these tips are for you!

There are three Equestrian Australia (EA) Preliminary level tests — Preliminary 1A, 1B and 1C. The purpose of this level is to confirm that the horse demonstrates correct basics, is supple and moves freely forward in a clear rhythm with a steady tempo, accepting contact with the bit. As our in-house dressage expert Roger Fitzhardinge explains, rhythm and regularity are of primary importance in a Prelim test as these are the major building blocks as the horse continues to progress up the grades.

We caught up with Roger to see what other tips he has for riding a great Preliminary level test…

1. Ride accurate lines.

Roger explains that riding correct and accurate lines is right up there with good rhythm and regularity in terms of importance.

“Ride your lines. Every corner, not too deep in Preliminary, but the same shape. Ride accurate circles. The lines throughout the test must be positive and seriously accurate.”

One movement that requires astute accuracy is the three-loop serpentine, which is introduced in the 1C test. It’s important to remember that this movement is essentially three half 20-metre circles (assuming you are riding in a 60m x 20m arena), beginning at A and ending at C. There are no corners in half 20-metre circles, so you do not ride corners between A and K, or between H and C. There are, however, corners before and after the serpentine; i.e. between F and A, and between C and M. So make sure you ride those!

When crossing the centreline — which you do twice — you should be parallel to the short sides for one straight stride as you show a clear change in the bend and flexion. Make sure you straighten the flexion and bend early, so at the centreline you are already in the new position, and thinking of leg yielding out slightly. Do not ride on a diagonal line.

Finally, do not get “stuck” on the track. When you touch the track, especially in the middle loop, be sure to touch it and leave — there should be no flat spots on the long side.

“You are going to get more
marks for a horse that is
free and forward thinking.”

2. Choose rising trot over sitting trot.

In the Preliminary tests, the rider can sit or rise to the trot, unless otherwise stated — meaning you have the choice. Roger recommends that for most horses, you are much better off going rising.

“You’re not going to get more marks for going sitting trot; you are going to get more marks for a horse that is free and forward thinking, and rising trot encourages that.”

3. Show a clear difference in the horse’s frame when you ride the stretchy trot circle.

The stretchy circle is included in the 1B and 1C test; in the C test it has a coefficient of 2. As Roger explains, getting the marks here is about showing a clear difference in the frame.

“You need to show a definite difference, from a rounder, slightly shorter, more engaged frame in the working trot, to a longer, reaching, soft topline and long, downward-stretching neck on the circle.

“To achieve this, you need to make certain that the horse is actually round and on the bit, so that when you do stretch there is a big difference from round and on the bit, to reaching. If they aren’t round and over the back and into the bridle, they won’t stretch. So just as much as they’ve got to stretch, they’ve also got to compress.”

“Do not show any form
of disgruntled attitude when
you leave the arena.”

4. Make the transitions to canter in the first part of the corner.

In the Prelim tests, canter transitions are in the corners between two markers. Roger suggests making the transition in the first part of the corner.

“The transitions to canter in the corner should be done in the first half of the corner, not the second half. Otherwise, if the horse is a bit unbalanced and makes a mistake and you are coming out of the corner, you’ve only got the straight line to correct the canter lead. However, if they make a little mistake and you’ve asked for the transition in the beginning of the corner, you can get them back and you’ve still got a bit of room in the corner to get the correct bend and ask for the canter transition again.”

5. Don’t push too hard in the long rein walk and risk the horse jogging.

We all want a forward-marching long-rein walk — but it really is easier said than done. As Roger explains, although you may train for a more active and positive walk, in the competition arena it’s best not to push too hard.

“You’re better to have a slower long-rein walk rather than trying too hard to get the walk more forward in case they jog. If they jog, you are going to get a low mark; but if they stay in walk, even if the walk lacks brilliance, you can still get an okay mark. So it’s better to have an okay walk without pushing too much with a Prelim horse, rather than making some jog steps.”

6. Ensure the horse isn’t anticipating the trot after the medium walk.

So you’ve got through the long-rein walk without jogging, and you pick up the reins for the medium walk — and your horse jogs. Roger explains that it’s important to train the horse so that it doesn’t anticipate the trot transition that follows the long rein and medium walk.

“You’ve got to be careful to really train the transition from the long-rein walk to the medium walk, that they don’t anticipate the trot and jog. So, in your training, it’s good to go long-rein walk, medium walk, long-rein walk. Not always long-rein walk, medium walk, trot.

“In your warm-up, if you’ve got a horse that wants to jog when you pick up the reins, you should do several long-rein walk, medium walk, long-rein walk sequences, so when you get into the test they are not anticipating the trot transition. So ride the line, long-rein walk, medium walk up the long side, long-rein walk around the corner again. Do that a few times before you go in, and they won’t be anticipating the trot transition after the medium walk.”

7. Don’t overshoot the final turn onto the centreline.

It’s much easier to correct the centreline if you undershoot, rather than overshoot the line coming out of the corner, explains Roger.

“It’s much better if you under-ride rather than over-ride the turn onto the final centreline, because you can always leg-yield over at the last minute. However, if you overshoot the line, it’s very difficult to ride half-pass to get back onto the line. Never overshoot.

“It’s really important that you ride a very accurate and good corner before the centreline. If you ride the corner too open, you’ll invariably go over the centreline.”

8. Make use of the allowed walk steps into the halt.

The Preliminary tests specify that transitions to halts can made be made through walk, and Roger recommends making use of this.

“The transitions to halt can be progressive. You’re allowed one or two walk steps, and that’s fine at this level.”

9. Be disciplined about your horse walking off after the final halt.

You’ve completed a great test, with a great final halt. As the reins slip through your hands to give your horse a pat, he walks off and makes for the exit — don’t let that happen! As Roger explains, the cue to walk off after the halt needs to come from your legs, not from dropping the reins.

“After the final halt, when you let the reins go, don’t let the horse immediately walk off. Practice making him stand still while you let the reins go, and not moving off until you ask with your leg.”

10. Finish with a smile!

We’ve all had tests that make us smile… and tests that leave us disappointed. No matter how you feel at the end of a test, always smile and pat your horse, as your attitude is important and can affect your mark.

“As far as the rider’s attitude goes, no matter how many mistakes or no matter how green your Preliminary horse is, at the end of the test do not show any form of disgruntled attitude when you leave the arena, as the judge still has three or four marks to give. Even if you made mistakes, you can only pat your horse on the neck, smile and say ‘oh well, another day at the office, we’ll try again tomorrow’… but if you show anger on your face and you’re grumpy because it’s not the best you can do, it could see you lose a rider mark!”

There you have it — make sure you smile! EQ

Test links:

Preliminary 1A

Preliminary 1B

Preliminary 1C

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