FINE CONTACT COMPETITIONS – DRESSAGE – Overall Impression

OVERALL IMPRESSION

The overall impression is sub-divided into 12 categories, each category is marked out of 10, some movements have a multiplying factor in order for them to have a greater influence on the marks.

  1. Rapport (mark x 4)

Horse and rider have a close and harmonious relationship, with a good understanding of each other and the ability to communicate well.  They listen to each other and are comfortable, relaxed and confident in each others’ company.  The rider is empathetic, listening and responding to the horse. The horse is receptive to the light aids of the rider.  Horse and rider demonstrate unity of mind and body which allows the horse to work freely forward with throughness.

  1. Throughness (mark x 2)

As the horse moves energetically forward the movement is transmitted throughout the horse’s athletic and supple body.

  1. Collection (mark x 2)

Collection is an ongoing process, with the natural paces becoming more collected as the horse learns to carry more weight on his hind legs.  This is achieved with patient training of transitions between and within the paces when the horse is in self-maintenance of rhythm, straightness and carriage.  When the energy can be progressively increased without stress, and with the increase in muscle strength and flexibility, the horse gradually increases his ability to carry more weight on the hind legs and less on his front legs, achieving ‘lightness of the forehand’.  The collected horse is balanced, and can perform the movements asked of him with ease.  Collection is marked at level 4 and above, and it is assessed by the ease of performance of the required movements at each given level.

  1. Self-maintenance of Straightness (mark x 2)

With no sign of coercion from the rider (or from the leader if on a lead-rein), the horse’s hind-legs follow the fore-legs along the same line.

  1. Self-maintenance of Energy, Rhythm and Tempo (mark x 2)

With no sign of coercion from the rider (or from the leader if on a lead-rein), the horse works willingly and freely forward with vitality and power, the rhythm and speed remaining constant without tension or loss of balance.

  1. Self-maintenance of Carriage (mark x 2)

Any natural posture that the horse takes that is not held in place by the rider or handler is the self-carriage of the horse.  The horse should learn to progressively carry himself with his face on or slightly in front of the vertical and in a natural and rounded outline that is appropriate for the level of training.  The horse should not be held together in a shape by a strong or inconsistent contact.

  1. Rider Balance and Lightness of Seat (mark x 3)

The rider sits quietly, central to the horse, straight and in alignment over her legs, whilst maintaining a close contact with the saddle, and with her weight distributed for the comfort of the horse, being aware of the conformation of the horse and that one of the weakest parts of the horse’s back is where he carries the rear of the saddle. The rider is able to keep in balance independent of her hands.

  1. Rider Lightness of Legs and Hands (mark x 3)

The horse should respond to a light leg aid from the inside of the ankle or lower calf, then the leg should remain quietly by the horse’s side without gripping or kicking.  If the horse is not moving freely forward then there will be a reason for it, and it is up to the rider to discover the reason rather than to override that reason with strong aids.

The rider should have a light and giving contact that may only be the weight of the reins. The contact should be equal in both reins through to the bridle. The rider’s shoulders, elbows, arms and hands following the movement of the natural head nod that the horse has in both walk and canter, allowing the horse to work freely forward in a naturally rounded outline. The contact is for communication only, to lightly ask the horse for lateral bend in the neck and flexion of the poll. If a bit is used, then it’s good if the horse is gently mouthing the bit, but should show no resistance to the bit or the bridle.

  1. Walk

The horse should show suppleness and a willingness to walk freely forward in a natural and unhurried 4- time rhythm.  He should be relaxed and graceful in manner. The walk should have purpose (meaning that he looks like he has somewhere to go, he isn’t just ambling along). The horse should walk with ground covering steps and a swinging and supple back. The rhythm should remain the same as the horse lengthens his stride in both free and extended walk.  When asked to stretch down in walk the horse should be allowed to extend his head and neck right down towards the ground on either a long or loose rein.

  1. Trot

The horse should remain in balance, showing suppleness and willingness to work freely forward in an unhurried but energetic cadenced natural 2-time rhythm.  Sitting or rising trot is at the discretion of the rider.

  1. Canter

The natural rhythm of the canter is 3 time, with a moment of suspension when all four legs are clearly off the ground. The horse should remain in balance, and show suppleness and a willingness to go forward without hurrying in an energetic canter that springs off the ground.

  1. Presentation of the Test

The movements should be ridden with accuracy, they should also look easy to perform and flow together.

Subtle rewarding (positive reinforcement) including scratches and voice at any moment is encouraged, but should not affect the flow of the test.

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