Last week I talked about the dressage letters in the riding ring, and how to use them to increase your accuracy. The exercise was a change of rein at the walk across the school from B to E. In your level 1 riding test we also ask you to:
7. Change rein on long diagonal at trot
The long diagonal is one which goes from one corner of the ring to the other, through the letter X (centre). In effect the horse and ridermake a very large ‘s’ shape to change directions. The diagram below shows a change which goes from F to H, but other diagonal paths could be H to F, K to M or M to K.
In all cases the rider must ride the short side of the arena before turning onto the diagonal to avoid a hairpin turn. That is, the above change FXH must be ridden starting on the left rein and changing to to right. If a rider was on the right rein and tried to change through FXH, the turn would be too tight for the horse to complete at the trot.
If the figure is done at a rising trot the rider may change her posting diagonal at X (the centre) or just before H. Common errors include wavering in the line from F to H and not riding deeply enough into the corners. To ride the figure smoothly and accurately:
- half halt between A and the corner, flexing the horse slightly to the inside (left)
- ride as deeply as possible into the corner
- support the horse through the turn with inside leg and outside rein
- look directly at the letter H, leaving the rail at F
- straighten across the diagonal without speeding up or slowing down
- half halt as you approach H, flexing the horse slightly to the right (the new inside)
- support your horse with your inside (left) leg and outside (right) rein as you look towards the letter C and regain the rail
These changes of direction are easy on the horse as they don’t involve tight turns, but still must be ridden with accuracy. Add them into your warm-up routine and practise maintaining a steady pace, neither slowing down nor speeding up as you make your deep corners and straight lines.