9. Balance is crucial in the canter half-pass movements — and riding renvers can help
Balance is big thing when riding canter half-passes into counter canter and/or flying changes. The 5A test asks for a canter half-pass into counter canter, followed by a flying change. As Roger explains, you can help gain better balance in movements like this with the slight use of renvers.
“In the canter half-pass into counter-canter before the change, I always like to think that you have a little feeling when you get on the long side where you put your horse in renvers. So the quarters are on the wall, and the forehand is a little tiny bit off the wall. And then that’s good preparation for a clean flying change and helps with the balance.”
The half-pass zigzag, or counter change of hand, (in the 5C) begins with a half-pass right to X. Again, keep a little balance in the corner to the outside of the horse and begin the half-pass with the forehand leading a little.
“As you get to the centreline, straighten the horse and almost think that you’re going to put him into renvers. And as you get to the renvers position, you then change the flexion. So it then becomes like shoulder-in, and then make the flying change, and then the half-pass the other way, and the same when you get to the long side. So, you go half-pass to the long side, put the quarters over, keep the horse straight, position shoulder-fore, flying change.”
Another tip from Roger is that when you’re training the change of direction in the half-pass at home, don’t let the horse start to anticipate the flying change due to the change of flexion. “Don’t let the horse take over and duck sideways in the half-pass to the new direction. Practise riding half-pass right, and as soon as you’re in half-pass right, change the flexion to the incorrect flexion for the half-pass, and keep going across so they learn not to just do a flying change with the change of flexion.”
10. Remember there are still marks to give after that final halt!
“Including the coefficients, there are still 60 marks to go down when you finish your test,” reminds Roger. “There is a mark for paces, so make certain the horse walks out of the arena with great purpose and a really good walk, with the neck stretching and relaxed, as that will give a good impression to the judge and refresh their mind about the paces.
“Then there is the impulsion that has to get a mark, then the submission, so if the horse is relaxed and stretching in a good way after the test, that will help that thought pattern as well for the judge.
“And then riding; if you show a grumpy face at the end of the test or give your horse a kick on the way out… any of those slightly bad-tempered attitudes don’t go down well with a judge and your rider mark could go from a 7 to a 6. However, you could go from a 6 to 7 if you pat the horse, smile, acknowledge the judge and give them a friendly look to say you’ve done the very best you could do on the day and thanks for your time.
“Also, when you get out of the arena, don’t pick up the reins and try to practise the movement where you made a mistake!” says Roger. Although your test ends after the salute, remember you are always being watched! EQ
Equestrian Australia Advanced tests:
Riding the Preliminary, Novice, Elementary or Medium tests? Roger has covered these in our previous issues:
10 Tips for Riding the Preliminary Tests
10 Tips for Riding the Novice Tests
10 Tips for Riding the Elementary Tests
10 Tips for Riding the Medium Tests