The British Dressage National Championships are a matter of weeks away, 14 – 17th September, and competitors up and down the country will be perfecting their championship tests with the sole aim of winning one of the coveted National Champion titles.
Equine Construction are delighted to continue their sponsorship of the Advanced Medium Championships for another year and along with sponsored rider, and international Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer, Hannah Biggs, they have put together some pearls of wisdom for riding a winning Advanced Medium championship test.
Make a plan and stick to it!
I like to write down a plan for my warm up as well as how to ride the test itself. Little key words to keep me mentally focussed, relaxed and in my bubble that no pressure can penetrate. Visualise your test at home when you are relaxed and recreate that feeling as you enter the arena. The warm up arena at Stoneleigh can get quite busy, so make sure you and your horse are prepared for that so you can stay focussed on your own plan and don’t watch others while you ride.
Riding the troublesome movements
The serpentine is always one to catch people out as it exposes any tension in the horse following the extended canter down the long side.
The final centre line contains a lot of marks to be won or lost and some riders lose their concentration by then. From the last flying change, to the transition to trot, the extension and the halt, all need a lot of focus and precision, so stay sharp until the end.
Not many riders know how many trot strides it takes to ride a 10-metre circle, or an 8-metre circle. Count to the centre line and back a few times to find out. Once you know this number it will help you ride forwards in balance without having to compromise the quality of the trot.
The perfect change
This Advanced Medium test was designed to test if the horse is really established in their flying changes. Ideally you would be working towards or at Prix St George level to show confident flying changes and be competitive at the National Championships. Once your changes are established, then you can ride the last 3 strides before the change in a more active, bouncy canter to give an expressive flying change. Accuracy is also important in this test, so count how many strides it takes to get from the edge of the arena to the centre line in the serpentine.
Walk pirouettes are easy; it’s maintaining a supple bend in the horse that is tricky! They can look awkward as they highlight quite a few faults in quick succession. Break down the movement into being able to control the bend and activity of the walk on a 10-metre circle, then bring this bend into a smaller turn without losing the quality. I imagine I’m riding up a spiral staircase as I ride around the pirouette, so I keep the bend, impulsion and uphill feeling which looks so appealing to the judges. Done well they look easy and smooth, with no funny compromising positions from the rider.