Carolina International Clinic Recap: Dressage

Wow. Let me just say that again- WOW. I feel so much wiser having attended the clinic at the Carolina Horse Park yesterday, and can’t wait to write it all down!

Even though the clinic format was 1) course walk, 2) dressage, 3) jumping, I feel it’s worthwhile discussing dressage first. We warmed up on our own, and while it was cold and a bit windy it remained sunny and the footing quite nice. Foster felt in fairly good form, though a bit short in his neck, so I decided to post the trot to keep his back soft. We did a few transitions, and a couple lengthenings in both trot and canter before heading into the arena.


I thought we put down a fairly good test, minus a couple bobbles. During our canter lengthening, the horse in the adjacent ring spooked, causing Foster to spook in turn. Luckily I was able to get him back to save the next movement, the downward transition at X, but that still unsteadied me slightly. His upward canter departs need revisiting a bit, he almost broke in the medium walk, and he has picked up the fun new habit of rooting in our free walk (advice here anyone?) which brought our normal 7-8 down to a 5.


After the test, Will Faudree, our ring judge, walked us through his thoughts. He was quick to ding us on the bobbles, and noted that he really expected these lower level tests to appear seemless, rather than as punctuated movements. There was also lots of advice on how to be a better test rider- for instance, by preparing and executing the transitions on the long sides of the arena (the walk at H and last trot at K) a little early, since to the judge’s eye they appear late if done exactly at the letter. Also he pointed out that by starting my centerline well outside of the actual arena, it gave him longer to watch any waviness of Foster’s hind end, and suggested starting the centerline closer to the arena so as not to give a bad impression too early. Will then went through each movement of the test and his thoughts as to why he scored the movement as he did, which was of course vastly helpful in understanding the score sheet.

Collective Marks: Gaits - 7.5, Impulsion - 7.5, Submission - 6.5, Rider - 7

Collective Marks: Gaits – 7.5, Impulsion – 7.5, Submission – 6.5, Rider – 7

This test would have earned me a 66.4%, or 33.6 in an actual event. I definitely walked away knowing that we have homework to do to bring those 5’s up, and I’ll be damned if we’re going to start getting anything less than 7’s on our free walk. However, this is an encouraging start, plus we accomplished our first goal for 2015!

  • Get a 7 on a lengthening

They still need help, but apparently 7’s are within our reach!

Warm-up lengthening

Warm-up lengthening

All in all we walked away with our head held high, and I can’t wait to put all the wonderful feedback to good use!

Tomorrow- the course walk!



12 thoughts on “Carolina International Clinic Recap: Dressage

  1. What an incredible experience this must have been! I’m envious! And even the little tidbits you’ve written here – starting the centerline at a certain point, completing transitions on the long side a bit early – seem genius and invaluable.

    I can’t wait to hear about the rest of the clinic!

    • I love getting these tips on how to be a better ‘test rider’ as Will put it- you can school beautifully at home but it’s a slightly different ball game in front of the judge 🙂

      • Exactly! Though I would object to the “slightly different” – for me it’s…I get a completely different horse and a completely different Annye, lol!

  2. Lovely test! I thought it looked great and you recovered well from the spookiness. A 7 on the lengthening is awesome!

    For the free walk my instructor gave me a few good suggestions that might help. If you don’t have a good walk before the freewalk, horses tend to root down and lose connection too quickly then lose quality. So I would try focusing on improving the medium walk before the free walk and see if that helps. When he roots, half halt half halt half halt! Just a little reminder of “hey, I see you doing that.” Hope that helps 🙂

  3. nice job!! it sounds like Will really held you accountable for each and every point too – which is of course exactly the purpose of this type of clinic. can’t wait to read about the rest!

  4. Pingback: 2015 Goal Review | A House on a Hill

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