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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A great look for a Novice horse. © Roger Fitzhardinge
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While success in the dressage arena boils down to good training, the way you present yourself and your horse can play a part. There is no such thing as the perfect horse, but clever and careful presentation can go a long way to improving the overall picture.

Before embarking on a competition career with your dressage horse, it is primarily important to take off the stable blindness glasses and be inwardly open about the conformation and build of your horse.

There is no such thing as the perfect horse, as there is no perfect human model, and the look that you want to achieve is one that is in keeping with the overall picture that the judges want to see.

The judges do not see the model in the makeup room… the judges do not see the naked person… the dressage judge doesn’t see the horse in the paddock or in training. Judges simply look at the overall finished product on the catwalk, i.e. the dressage arena, and give marks for the overall impression that fits the guidelines for the competition!

First and foremost, your horse must be extremely well trained; no matter the makeover, nothing will cover up poor training. So it’s of the utmost importance to train well and be competent at the level you are competing. Try to be training at the level above the one in which you are competing, so the test you ride will be easy to ride — stress-free and harmonious.

If you don’t know the end result and the look that the judges are looking for, then you need to research national and international winners and look at the overall picture of those combinations and try to see what accentuates the picture.

UPHILL

The most important thing with any dressage horse is to give an impression of an uphill way of going and a good frame; the shoulders and neck should be held proudly and show a lightness in the bridle and a free forehand and lower hind end. Stand back and look at your horse as if it’s someone else’s. Be honest about what the conformation tends towards. If the horse is built a little downhill — that is, a lower wither than the rump — then you have to look at ways to improve this.

Of course, condition is important and sometimes horses put on weight in different places, like humans. You can condition horses fatter or slimmer depending on the look you require, but remember they are equine athletes and nothing looks worse than a fat dressage horse. A well-muscled horse is important and, as with humans, there are exercises and ways in which to improve shapes by developing certain muscles. Again, this is where good training and honesty helps build horses’ muscles to show their best athletic look. If a horse has a long back and an upside down neck, then you need to work on defining the topline. There are many, many specific frames that help to develop these areas and a good trainer or equine physio will design exercises to improve this.

To give an uphill impression at the competition, the way that you braid your horse’s mane is very important and there are many alternatives. The English type plaits give a lovely, more plump neck. The number that you use can help make a short neck look longer, and remember that the poll should always be the highest point. Be wary not to make the plaits behind the ears too flat and pulled down, with the plaits in the middle of the neck too plump, as this will give an incorrect balance to the frame you need. Take a photo of the neck unplaited when you are working, and then visualize the shape that plaiting will aid to give a better look.

Another problem is to be careful with the plait about 30-odd centimetres down from the poll, as a fault in a dressage horse is what’s called a “broken neck” where the neck bends incorrectly. A badly placed plait can give this impression and if your horse, for whatever reason, has this tendency, then a correctly placed plait will help hide it. If you have a horse with a large and cresty neck — as some breeds do — then do not put big plaits on top of the neck, but instead flat ones that sit on the side.

“Stand back and
look at your horse as if
it’s someone else’s.”

Forelocks… again that’s up to the individual, but forelock plaits that poke out the front like a unicorn’s horn are unsightly. Neatly braided and tucked back under themselves are the best. Unplaited forelocks give an impression that the horse is head shy and difficult to plait, or you ran out of time! Some think a free-flowing forelock looks great, but that’s an individual thing and of course if your horse shakes his head as he is uncomfortable with the plaited forelock, then it needs to be free.

All of these grooming tips are to be in keeping with the personality of the horse and the rider’s taste.

Now to the other end… the rump and the tail! The look you want is that the rump is low and that the hocks are under the horse. High tail carriages and short tails give the impression of the croup being high! You need again to be honest here and look at a still photo and work out what to do to improve the look of engagement.

Tails… natural, pulled or plaited (short plait or long plait) short or long, thick or thin, square or natural, are all options that you need to look at to see what will make your horse look more engaged! Hints are to keep the look that the tail is close to the rump, not stuck out, and if it is, then natural is better as it decreases the air between the rump and the tail.

The top of the rump has many, many options with brush marks, and again you need to play about each day and see what looks the best. Glitter is a no-no! Shark’s teeth, squares, diamonds, triangles etc. are all available to help. The hack professionals are absolute experts at marks to enhance the horse, but it’s to be never ostentatious. Have a look at their horses and get some ideas.

As with anything in dressage, less is more, but tactful marks and neatness that is enhancing and not garish are always great. The more the sport evolves, the more you now see the influence of the show hack coming in to the game. Look at the presentation of the young horses around the world and especially the attention to detail that the English pay.

The most important thing about presentation is that the horse should be super healthy from the inside to the outside, and so feed and conditioning is of the utmost importance. Clean, shiny and healthy skin and coat are essential and, of course, clipping in winter if they’re really hairy.

BALANCE

This ties in closely with the above section. The rider should be sitting in the middle of the horse, not short-neck and sitting on the shoulders and not saddle-way-back and sitting on the kidneys.

This is a lot to do with saddle fit and above all the saddlecloth. The saddle should be well fitting, of course, and clean with clean stirrups and girth buckles. With girths, again it’s up to the look whether you use black, brown or white. Sometimes a sheepskin girth is good, but I think you don’t want to make the horse look closer to the ground, as fluffy girths tend to deepen the chest and make the forehand look heavier. The most critical thing is the shape of the saddlecloth and the position.

You want the horse to look uphill, so…

1. The back of the bottom line of the saddlecloth needs to be LOWER than the front to give the uphill look.

2. The saddlecloth needs little to none in front of the saddle, as it makes the front of the horse look compressed.

3. Tactful and not garish. Piping can be modest and some colour, but in keeping with the rider’s costume.

4. Make certain that the sponsors’ badges fulfil the sizing requirements in the rulebook.

5. The competition numbers are clear if on the cloth, and again tilting up, not down!

The position of the saddlecloth and its shape make a huge difference.

If you are using a sheepskin pad, make sure it’s not longer than the saddlecloth. It’s always a wonder why people buy a close contact, well-fitting saddle… then put half a sheep under it so the saddle sits way up off the horse’s back and certainly doesn’t bring the horse and rider to look as one! Be careful of this unfortunate look.

GEAR

Your gear should be in keeping with each level, and must be clean and well looked after with the leather soft and pliable. The browband should be in keeping with the level of competition and not over the top in colour. And if you have the competition numbers attached to the bridle, make sure they don’t look overpowering and like blinkers. It’s preferable to put these on the saddlecloth.

A noseband is compulsory and it must be well-fitting. Bridle and saddle colour should be preferably matching and the bridle and noseband in keeping with the horse’s head. Coloured piping behind the noseband and browband is always good. The noseband can be flat, wide, narrow or raised, and again it’s up to what makes the horse’s head look refined. Big, overpowering bridles often make the head a focal point and make the front end look heavy.

Reins need not be thick, as they look heavy and give an impression of strength. Rolled reins are light looking, and great. NO martingale stoppers!

RIDER’S ATTIRE

Firstly, you need to read the rules for the levels that you ride, as the attire varies.

All needs to be well-fitting and neat. At the lower levels, some colour is always nice to see but must be tactful and with not too much bling. Jackets are better not too short as the impression will be that the rider is sitting above the horse — and the rider needs to be part of the horse and really less significant… it’s about the horse and not the rider!

Breeches can be according to the rules and you should find breeches that are well-fitting… and beware of white, thin breeches with underwear — especially if it rains! Jackets can have some colour on the collar or sleeves etc., but again tactful is best. Gloves must be worn, and crème or white is best to match the breeches. Whips should be black as you don’t want to attract attention to it. Spurs are always clean and with the spur straps matching the boots or gaiters — and legal. Helmets are personal, but small and discreet is best, and in keeping with the colour of the boots is always a good idea. Men do not have to remove the helmet at the salute.

Always keep everything simple and as normal as possible. The sport is disciplined and with a great deal of history, but in this day and age colour and a bit of fun in costume at the lower levels and at the Pony and Junior rider levels is always okay.

Just an interesting observation — if you use ‘weird’ bits and bridles and nosebands and spurs, judges are drawn to these and think, “Oh, I better look out for contact issues or a lack of respect to the leg… this horse must have a few difficult scenarios to be in that gear”. Normal is best. Don’t draw attention to anything and be discreet with all the turnout and grooming you do.

Remember the grooming and condition of yourself and your horse are all very important, but the basic way your horse goes and the harmony between horse and rider is of the utmost importance. Enjoy helping with turnout to finish the picture! EQ

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