How do you greet a judge
Dressage test: score points with the correct break-in
Breaking in is part of every dressage test. It is the first lesson to be assessed by the judges. With this lesson every rider gives his business card to the judges. Therefore, you should practice breaking in and riding with concentration during this lesson.
What is part of breaking in?
The exercise book always says (A-X) break in for tasks in a 40 square, stop at X and say hello.
For tasks on the large 60s square, holding is sometimes only required at G, i.e. shortly before the judge at C.
In e-dressage, the break-in usually takes place at the walk. Starting from A at the latest, the break in takes place at a trot. In dressage tests from class M upwards, there is sometimes also a collective gallop.
The path is always the same regardless of the class or pace:
At A, turn to the center line and ride in a straight line towards the judges at C. Stop at the required point so that the horse's shoulder is at the level of the track point, when stopping at X this is the E-B line.
Riding in also includes the way to the center line, turning away from the center line and of course the way to the stopping point, as well as stopping itself.
How should the break-in look like?
From the beginning of the test, the horse should pay close attention to the rider and stand by the aids. Most of the time you have time to show the horse the arena before the judges signal with the bell that the test is about to begin. It then counts as soon as the doorbell rings.
Turning to the center line should be done in such a way that the horse arrives directly on the center line and not next to it. It is best to ride out the first corner of the short side well and then, according to the radius of your horse, ride a quarter of a volt on the center line. Position your horse straight on the center line (except when galloping, the horse remains slightly in the direction of the hand canter).
On the center line it is important that the horse is straight and walks with the hind feet in the track of the front feet. The horse should neither run staggered nor sway due to the lack of contact with the gang.
You should prepare the whole parade to be held in good time. However, the horse should not stall prematurely and coast to a halt. The parade should be soft and the horse should come to a standstill at the point.
When holding the horse itself, it should stand closed on all four legs and keep its head down. If the horse does not stand closed or if the head goes up, correct it. It is more important for the judges to see that you recognize mistakes than to save the 2 seconds it takes to correct them. Only when the horse is standing correctly do you take the reins in your left hand and greet you with a nod and a stretching down of your right hand.
Important: If you ride with a crop, it also changes to your left hand. The judges don't like it when you are threatened with a crop ^^.
After the greeting, sort the reins properly again, and then move on to the next lesson.
Tips for the correct break-in
- Ride deep into the corner at the beginning of the short side.
- Then straighten the horse again.
- About a horse's length before A, look exactly at C and bring the horse to the center line with a quarter of a volte.
- Straighten your horse again
- To keep the horse from swaying on the center line, you should lay down slightly. That way the horse stays straight.
- Ride the whole parade on point, don't coast down
- The horse should stand closed - if necessary correct by half a parade
- Take your time until the horse is really standing correctly before you say hello
- Grasp the reins properly with your left hand and greet with your right hand and nod your head.
- Do not hold the whip in your right hand when greeting
- After the greetings, sort everything again before moving on
If your horse tends to coast to X on its own, you should always hold one or two horse lengths after X during training. So you can ride a clean parade at the tournament without having to laboriously force the horse to X first. Ride more often just ridden through the length of the track or change through the length of the track so that the horse does not automatically wait for the whole parade.
Make sure the horse is standing straight and not stepping to one side. If it likes to do so, place two bars on the floor to the left and right of the center line during training. A distance of less than a meter is good. Then hold between these bars. This exercise will help keep the horse straight and stop in the right place.
In any case, practice ensuring that your horse stops even when you are moving in the saddle - for example, say hello. Many horses respond to the rider's movement and then step aside or forward.
You should also practice with your horse that it can stop correctly over a longer period of time. Many horses are fidgety at the tournament and don't like to stand still at all. The correct holding is only a question of practice and discipline. Practice standing correctly still for 2-5 minutes - this training pays off at the award ceremony at the latest.
Breaking in is often neglected in training, but it is really easy to get valuable points here. Breaking in is particularly important in jointly directed tests in the lower classes. If this first lesson goes wrong, the overall grade will no longer be good.
Unfortunately, I know that well enough. My Hanoverian ApplePie was a very handsome horse that hated going straight to the judges. Then there was the problem that he was mad at the tournament and didn't like the whole atmosphere. The end of the song was often: break in - hold - climb. Unfortunately, in A dressage, the grade 4.0 for disobedience is already on the record. Then the horse can shine as it wants - the disobedience stops.
We solved the problem by simply not riding any more jointly directed tests. In L-dressage on the large arena and M-dressage, breaking in is only one of many lessons that can be compensated for with highlights elsewhere if it goes wrong.
With that the pressure was gone and the break-in worked out much better. Most of the time, the problem rests on the horse. However, it did not always work out perfectly, as can be seen in the photo. The photographer was just too exciting to keep his nose down 😉
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