So! First thing you have to do in a dressage test, is riding straight down the centreline, sometimes also halt and salute. You would think this should be easy? As its the first movement in a test, but boy is it difficult to do well!
Why? Well firstly, we don’t have any walls supporting us or the horse as it’s in the middle, secondly, getting everything lined where you want it you need to have 100% control of you and your horse every step of the way. Way harder than it sounds.
In my daily work, I ride most of the time inside the track, to practice this and to get that 100% control. In the beginning you might find it hard to do, after a while I found I’d rather stay away from the wall as easier to feel if some part of the horse moves. Also I find it really good for feeling if you get your horse forwards from both legs up into two hands.
Also important for the straightness is suppleness, much easier to ride a soft horse,than a horse that is tight or a little against your aids. Horses have to be sensitive to your legs both forwards but even more so laterally. I find it impossible to correct a horse that doesn’t understand the leg and know how to move the different parts of it’s body away from it. That is why legyield, shoulder in and travers are so important.
Once I feel like it’s ok, I progress and start making transitions within the pace, then between paces. Always keeping my line and me and my horse as straight as I possibly can.
When this feels secure, then I attack the centre line, as well prepared as I can to make as good a job as possible.
Sadly I don’t have a photo of anyone coming straight down the centre line.
Cones or poles, can also help as they’re visual and will create a clearer picture for your lines 😊 Both for you and your horse.
Remember to ride the downward transitions with your seat and core, forwards to your hand, you don’t want your hand to be pulling back and stop the horse from stepping under!
Let me know what you think!