The figures asked in dressage tests are the voltes, the serpentines and the figures of eight.
Volte. The volte is a circle of 6, 8 or 10 meters in diameter. If larger than 10 meters, it is a circle.
Serpentine. The serpentine with several loops touching the long side of the arena consists of half circles connected by a straight line. When crossing the center-line, the horse should be parallel to the short side
- Depending on the size of thehalf circles, the straight connection varies in length. Serpentines with one loop onthe long side of the arena are executed with 5-meter or 10-meter distance from thetrack
- Serpentines around the center-line are executed between the quarter lines
- Figure of eight. This figure consists of two voltes or circles of equal size as prescribedin the test, joined at the center of the eight. The rider should make his horsestraight an instant before changing direction at the center of the figure.
a. Stretching the Frame. This exercise gives a clear impression of the “throughness” of the horse and proves its balance, suppleness, obedience and relaxation. In order to execute the exercise “stretching on a long rein” correctly, the athlete must lengthen the reins as the horse stretches gradually forward and downward. As the neck stretches forward and downward, the mouth should reach more or less to the horizontal line corresponding with the point of the shoulder or lower. An elastic and consistent contact with the athlete’s hands must be maintained. The gait must maintain its rhythm and tempo, and the horse should remain light in the shoulders with a swinging back and with the hindlegs well- engaged. During the retake of the reins the horse must accept the contact without resistance in the mouth or poll.
b. Uberstreichen. A clear release of contact where the horse maintains self-carriage,
rhythm, tempo, straightness, and quality of gait.
The lateral movements
1. A distinction must be made between the following movements: Leg yielding, Shoulder
in, Travers, Renvers, Half pass.
2. Work on two tracks.
a. The aim of movements on two tracks is:
1. To improve the obedience of the horse to the cooperative aids of the rider;
2. To supple all parts of the horse thereby increasing the freedom of his shoulders and the suppleness of his quarters as well as the elasticity of the bond connecting the mouth, the poll, the neck, the back and the haunches;
3. To improve the cadence and bring the balance and gaits into harmony;
b. Leg-yielding. The horse is almost straight, except for a slight flexion at the poll away from the direction in which he moves, so that the rider is just able to see the eyebrow and nostril on the inside. The inside legs pass and cross in front of the outside legs. Leg-yielding should be included in the training of the horse before he is ready for collected work. Later on, together with the more advanced movement shoulder-in, it is the best means of making a horse supple, loose and unconstrained for the benefit of the freedom, elasticity and regularity of his gaits and the harmony, lightness and ease of his movements. Leg-yielding can be performed on the diagonal in which case the horse should be as close as possible parallel to the long sides of the arena although the forehand should be slightly in advance of the quarters. It can also be performed along the wall in which case the horse should be atan angle of about 35 degrees to the direction in which the horse is moving
c. Turn on the Forehand. The purpose of this exercise is to supple the horse and teach him obedience to the aids. In this exercise, the inside of the horse is the side from which the horse yields, i.e. the horse is flexed at the poll to the right, which is the inside, when the haunches move to the left. The horse moves around the inside front leg. The outside front foot steps forward and around the inside forefoot, which remains active in the sequence of footfalls. The hind feet move on a curved line, with the inside hind foot striking the ground in front of the outside hind foot.
a. The additional aim of lateral movements is to develop and increase the engagement of the quarters and thereby also the collection.
b. In all lateral movements – shoulder-in, travers, renvers, half-pass—the horse is slightly bent and moves with the forehand and the quarters on two different tracks (see Fig 1-4).
c. The bend or flexion must never be exaggerated so that it impairs the balance and fluency of the movement concerned.
d. At the lateral movements the gait should remain free and regular, maintained by a constant impulsion, yet it must be supple, cadenced and balanced. The impulsion is often lost, because of the rider’s preoccupation mainly in bending the horse and pushing him sideways.
e. The opposite side is the outside.
f. Shoulder-in. This exercise is performed in collected trot. The horse is ridden with a slight but uniform bend around the inside leg of the rider maintaining cadence at a constant angle of approx. 30 degrees. The horse’s inside foreleg passes and crosses in front of the outside foreleg; the inside hind leg steps forward under the horse’s body weight following the same track of the outside foreleg, with the lowering of the inside hip. The horse is bent away from the direction in which it is
moving. (see Fig. 1). If the shoulder-in is performed on the long side or on the center line, the horse should be straightened after the shoulder-in, before going into the corner. If the movement that follows the shoulder-in is a circle at any point, or a turn left or right at any point other than the four corners, the horse should not be straightened.
g. Travers. This exercise can be performed in collected trot or collected canter. The horse is slightly bent round the inside leg of the rider but with a greater degree of bend than in shoulder-in. A constant angle of approximately 35 degrees should be shown, from the front and from behind one sees four tracks. The forehand remains on the track and the quarters are moved inwards. The horse’s outside legs pass and cross in front of the inside legs. The horse is bent in the direction in which it is moving. To start the travers, the quarters must leave the track or, after a corner or circle, are not brought back onto the track. At the end of the travers, the quarters are brought back on the track without any counter-flexion of the poll/neck as one would finish a circle. (see Fig. 2).
h. Renvers. This is the inverse movement in relation to travers. The hindquarters remain on the track while the forehand is moved inward. To finish the renvers the forehand is aligned with the quarters on the track. Otherwise, the same principles and conditions that apply to the travers are applicable to the renvers. The horse is slightly bent around the inside leg of the rider. The horse’s outside legs pass and cross in front of the inside legs. The horse is bent in the direction in which it is moving. Aims of renvers: To show a fluent collected trot movement on a straight line with a greater degree of bend than in shoulder-in. Fore and hind legs cross, balance and cadence are maintained.
i. Half-pass.This movement is a variation of travers, executed on a diagonal line instead of along the wall. It can be performed in collected trot (and in passage in a freestyle) or collected canter. The horse should be slightly bent around the inside leg of the rider and in the direction in which it is moving. The horse should maintain the same cadence and balance throughout the whole movement. In order to give more freedom and mobility to the shoulders, it is of great importance that the impulsion be maintained, especially the engagement of the inside hind leg. The horse’s body is nearly parallel to the long side of the arena with the forehand slightly in advance of the hindquarters. The bend in the half-pass should increase with the steepness of the diagonal. In the trot, the outside legs pass and cross in front of the inside legs. In the canter, the movement is performed in a series of forward/ sideways strides. Aims of half-pass in trot: To show a fluent collected trot movement on a diagonal line with a greater degree of bend than in shoulder-in. Fore and hind legs cross, balance and cadence are maintained. Aims of the half-pass in canter: To both demonstrate and develop the collection and suppleness of the canter by moving fluently forwards and sideways without any loss of rhythm, balance or softness and submission to the bend.