Earning Those Extra Marks!

As the E-Rider summer championships draws ever closer we spoke to Dressage trainer, rider and E-Rider judge Nick Bigland to get some of his top tips on how to score those extra marks at the final.

Centre lines can often cause problems, is there a tip on the best way to ride a correct centre line? 

Preparation, preparation, preparation. On your entry and as you turn at C but most importantly at home. Use your centre lines and three quarter lines to help develop the straightness and confidence you have as a partnership. Remember there is a minimum of two in a test so that’s 20 marks! Entering on the rein you are going to be turning at C on, can also help the fluency as changing the bend on a straight line isn’t an easy thing to do…

What are you looking for when you judge the tests?

Simply the clear scales of training. It doesn’t matter what kind of horse you have as long as you use the scales of training you will be rewarded with the marks. Your horse/pony should be relaxed, working actively forwards over a soft, supple back through to a steady, even contact regardless if you’re riding an Intro or Medium test. Then there is no reason for us not to give you the higher marks.

Are there any pointers to help score those extra few marks?

Transitions are in all levels and need to be in a nice balance that then give’s the greater fluency and make us judges happy. In the lower levels they can be progressive i.e. a couple of steps, but not endless steps or strides. We would rather see them in a better balance without any tension than being abrupt or hurried. As you progress up they need to be on the aids and much more direct, showing the collection in the downward transitions and light uphill balance for the upward ones.

What are the most common mistakes you see when judging?

For me personally I have three that come to mind and some of them have been covered above:

1.     Lack of accuracy – this is so simple but yet so common at all levels. From the moment you enter and you’re not on that centre line it’s not accurate. Circle sizes, poorly prepared simple changes and incorrect positioning in lateral work are just some examples. We want to give you the higher marks so let us do that for you.

2.     Free walk – the walk steps are so important not just the stretch. Is your horse in front of your leg? Reaching for the contact? Swinging over his back? But please remember that a loose rein is when you give it all away, with no contact at all, which you likely do when cooling off and heading back to the stables or trailer/lorry – this isn’t the free walk we want to see.

3.     In front of rider aids – your horse needs to react positively to your aids with the right ‘appropriate’ amount of energy. This helps with the general fluency and balance throughout your tests but without increasing the tempo or speed of the paces.

and finally remember to smile! It makes us judges happy to see you having a good time ????

Good luck to all the competitors taking part in the Nedz Summer Championships – remember to get your tests sent in.