Here’s a look at a dressage test posted by Al Senzamici for review.
If you’d be interested in a similar review of your video, go ahead and post it to my page. I’m happy to provide similar analysis in exchange for the video file for later use in online classes. I can’t promise that I’ll have time to get to everyone’s videos, but will provide at least a few comments on what you post.
Al Senzamici – Preliminary Test #3
This a great start for you and this very nice looking pony. Your consistency and accuracy is very good in this test. The pony is quite steady, regular, and compliant throughout the test. Equally, your driving is consistent and accurate. You have nice timing, great centerlines (as far as we can see from this angle), and good figures (mind the note on corners below). That’s a great place to start from, keep up that good work!
Opportunities for Improvement
The biggest opportunity for improvement with this pony is in his flexibility, both longitudinally (length of frame), and laterally (left and right). We can see this pony is kind of rigid, with little change in his length of frame at any point of the test. That’s the first place to work on, because getting him(?) to develop flexibility fore and aft will allow him to develop lateral flexibility. That will also allow him to develop more engagement as he gains more swing and “throughness” in his way of going.
The best place to work on that is working with the walk. Alternate between working walk, and a stretchy lengthened walk. Really do everything you can to allow your pony to stretch down during those exercises. (More on that in a subsequent note to be posted later this week)
The pony hasn’t quite developed the necessary engagement to transition from the trot directly into the halt. We can see in the initial halt there is a step back (loss of balance). The second halt appears better, but again it lacks engagement (which creates a tentative reinback). We see really quite a nice trot up the centerline, that diminishes down into a halt by taking shorter steps approaching the completion of the transition (lack of engagement).
At prelim, you’re not obligated to transition from the trot directly to halt for the above stated reasons. The top right of the test indicates “transitions may be made through the walk.” Work on this skill by practicing trot -> walk -> halt transitions, paying particular attention to establishing an actual 4 beat walk before halting. I’ll talk about this exercise in my transitions class later this month.
Preliminary Level Dressage: “transitions may be made through the walk.”
Your corners were accurate to the map, but not accurate to the pony’s way of going. The map on the test does not reflect the fact that prelim horses are expected to take corners on a 20 meter circle (Manual for Driven Dressage; ADS Dressage committee). Squaring off the corners highlights the pony’s lack of lateral flexion. Your turns from B to E were more appropriate. Take those corners with that same 20 meter arc. In other words, as you did in the turn across the ring, the turn should begin and end 10 meters from the corner. That will more closely match his way of going.
The place that the lack of lateral flexion shows up the most is in the turn onto the diagonal (about 3:15 in the video). That’s a tricky turn because it diminishes from a 20 meter, down to about a 16 meter turn by the time the driver is on the diagonal. We can see he starts out quite nice, but then falls through his shoulder completing the turn.
Here again, as he crosses the diagonal we see the lack of longitudinal flexion, as there is little to no change in his way of going for the lengthened trot. There is some lengthening of stride, and his rhythm remains consistent, which is good. That’s much better than rushing across the diagonal as so many people do. However with regard to his frame: if anything, his head and neck carriage go up, rather than lengthening downward. That is the place to start to develop the lengthening movement from. The walk exercises I already mentioned will be the most helpful in developing that.
All in all, it was quite a nice test, and as I say, a great place to build from. You’ve got the beginning elements of consistency, accuracy, and compliance in place. Now it’s time to work on more dynamic flexibility to continue moving the pony in the right direction. Thank you very much for sharing this video. I hope my suggestions are helpful, and give you a good direction to focus your training.