Despite the heat, preparations for the British Dressage Summer Regional Championships must continue. My experience training riders and horses in the summer heat of Mallorca is standing me in good stead now. I am riding my Prix St Georges / Intermediate 1 horse before breakfast – even before mucking out. I am concentrating on transitions in all paces, working through all the lateral movements, half-pass and pirouettes, checking the rhythm of the footfall and trying to generate as much cadence into the trot (his weakest pace) as possible.
With the canter movements, especially the flying changes, I am working on placement. In a line of five flying changes (at Prix St Georges these are required every fourth stride then every third stride) work on placing the first two before X , the third one over X and the final two the far side of X. Doing this presents the dressage judge with a neat picture of control, fluency and accuracy. Always remember that flying changes are transitions in themselves and that is why it is important to get them right.
A tidy test earns marks, and now that half-marks are to be had in the FEI level tests (and in all British Dressage tests, but not Eventing tests from January 1 2014), riding with accuracy and understanding of where each movement begins and ends can make quite a difference. Every little helps – make it easy for the judge to reward you.