“Too many people don’t get a pirouette canter going; they do it in collected canter. They go collected canter, then the pirouette (which will always be too big if ridden in collected canter rather than a true pirouette canter), and then it’s just collected canter out. So there’s no adjustability; the ability to engage, shorten and collect into the pirouette canter, and ride into and out of that from collected canter… that’s what you’ve really got to look for.”
8. You must ride the corners in the counter canter.
The counter canter and change that follows the pirouettes needs to be ridden through the corner, not on a half-20-metre-circle curving line.
“When you finish the pirouettes, you ride the corner in counter canter, then it’s a straight line, and the flying change at C, and then a straight line after the change.
“It’s very important to show that you have the control; that you can keep the counter canter and keep it adjustable with the quarters on the wall and very parallel, and that you can make a flying change in a straight line, not on a half-20-metre circle line, but a straight line,” explains Roger.
9. Maintain focus for the tempi changes.
It goes without saying that you need to stay focused during the entire test, however, Roger explains that many riders subconsciously relax a little after the dreaded canter pirouettes and counter canter.
“Make certain that from the end of that counter canter, once you’ve done the flying change, don’t go to sleep! Everybody takes a big sigh thinking they’ve got through the difficult pirouettes and the counter canter… but all of a sudden you’ve got the four tempi changes.
“Believe me, there’s a tendency in the counter canter for the horse to be getting a little bit open and flat. And then you relax a little bit because you think that tough bit is done, but then you’ve got a sequence of five fours. You’ve got to make sure that you make that canter very active and collected and bouncy, so you’re really prepared for the changes before you get onto the diagonal line.
“As you go onto the diagonal line, it is of the utmost importance to straighten the horse with the outside rein and have a feeling that he’s almost moving slightly left, so that the balance frees up the inside of the horse. It is important to have a straight horse with a feeling that you can change the balance from left to right and vice versa, as this allows freedom of the new inside of the horse for the change.
“There are five fours, and the middle change (third change) should be over X. So it’s up to you at home to count how many strides out you can be before you begin the fours, so there is then the same number of strides at the end of the diagonal line when you finish the fours to the long side. It’s then exactly the same principle in the three tempi changes.”
10. Your horse must stand still at the end!
This goes for the final halt in any test at any level: your horse must stand motionless for the final halt and not walk off until they’re asked.
“After you’ve saluted, let the reins go and the horse should remain standing still. Give the horse a pat and then you ask them to walk off. Do not let the horse walk off from the halt before you ask. It’s a big no-no and it will lose you up to two or three marks, believe me. That’s the difference between winning and being out of the placings!”
In the PSG test there is just one collective mark, for “rider’s position and seat; correctness and effect of the aids”. As Roger explains, this is far more than just a rider mark.
“The collective mark is really the way the horse goes in the test and the accuracy of the movements. It is the overall impression of submission, impulsion, freedom, transitions, flexibility, rider position… and of course balance and adjustability. If you’ve got adjustability and good balance, then you must be riding well! EQ
View the FEI Prix St Georges test here.
Riding the Preliminary, Novice, Elementary, Medium or Advanced 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
10 Tips for Riding the Advanced Tests