“In terms of symmetry; if you go three metres to the left in the first three strides, then you need to go three metres to the centreline and three metres to the other side before the next change, repeated for each half-pass.”
Roger also explains that if you finish the half-pass early and do the three strides to the centreline, you don’t have to make the flying change on that third stride — you can canter down the centreline, position and make your change at G.
4. The rein-back to trot must be a direct transition
For the halt and rein-back five steps, Roger explains that it should be clearly to a square, well-maintained halt, followed by five clear steps back and then a very clear transition from the rein-back to the trot.
“It shouldn’t be rein-back, and then walking forward pushing the horse onto the forehand, and then trotting… it must be rein-back and then uphill in collected strides with the front legs up and the hind legs engaged into the trot. So you must practise how to make sure that the horse is very sharp to go from the rein-back to the trot.”
5. The extended walk needs to be relaxed and the collected walk correctly shortened
The walk movements (movement 11 and 12) are both coefficients, so it’s important to ride them well — which is often easier said than done.
“With the extended walk, make that transition as you turn onto the diagonal line, so you passage right up to P. In the extended walk, judges want to see a relaxed horse, with maximum push and extension, without hurrying and breaking into the trot. They want to see a lengthening of the neck and a relaxation, especially the look in the horse’s eye of contentment, and an ability to absorb that movement.
“The transition to collected walk should be very clear. Collected walk isn’t merely slow; collected walk is a very short and heightened walk step with no overtrack. If a horse goes from extended walk, and then just slows the walk down, there’s too much overtrack for collected walk and you won’t get a good mark.”
6. Canter to passage requires practice
The passage to canter transition (movement 18) is a new addition at Grand Prix level, and while it might sound like an easy movement, as Roger explains, it’s anything but: “It’s very hard because of the increased cadence in the passage; you need to practise passage to canter a lot.
“In the beginning, what a lot of people do is they actually fudge it a bit by going passage, relax to the trot for a step or two, and then canter. But for big marks, it should be clearly passage with cadence, straight to the canter.”