Stephen Clarke Symposium Part II: What It Takes to Get a 10

Stacy, this post is for you! Part I of my synopsis of the Stephen Clarke symposium put on by Austin Dressage Unlimited was about specifics for the judges.  I think this part–while directed at judges–can help all of us as riders to present our movement(s) in such a way as to achieve the highest score possible.  One of the comments that Mr. Clarke made was, “A judge should always be prepared to say why they gave a certain score.  An 8 is a very good mark but in giving it you took away 20% of the possible points. What does the rider need to do better?” So let’s see what it takes to get a 10 in the dressage ring!

Not all the movements were covered.  I ‘m listing them in the order they were discussed over the weekend.

Simple Change ‘10’

  1. 3-5 steps of walk (count one leg either front or back)
  2. Another way to think of this is the amount of walk should be equal to the length of the horse’s body
  3. Quality of the transition, clarity of the walk, reactions + balance of the horse through the transition

Walk Pirouettes ‘10’

  1. Rhythm remains regular
  2. Uniform bend in the direction of the movement
  3. Tempo – speed of the rhythm remains the same as before and after the movement
  4. Takes weight behind ‘should not come onto the shoulder’
  5. The 4 times sequence of the walk is maintained

Trot Half Pass ‘10’

  1. The quality of the trot should be maintained in the half pass. i.e. should not become slower or faster but remain the same as the trot before or the trot after
  2. Uniform bend throughout the horse’s body
  3. Virtually parallel to the long side of the arena with the shoulders slightly leading
  4. The most important part of preparing for the half pass is the shoulder fore positioning

Flying Changes ‘10’

  1. The quality of the canter should not change
  2. The flying change should match the canter strides before and after
  3. You would be marked down for the following: late behind, early in front and late to the rider’s aids.
  4. Problems with changes generally lead back to lack of thoroughness and suppleness

Canter Half Pass Flying Changes ‘10’

  1. Quality of the canter, rhythm
  2. Flying change should be fluid and parallel to the long side
  3. The Flying change should be the first stride of the new half pass
  4. In the PSG test you can straighten one stride before ‘X’ then make the change

Canter Pirouette ‘10’

  1. Increase the degree of collection before the Canter Pirouette
  2. The horse should accept more weight behind in preparation for the Canter Pirouette
  3. Should be positioned in the direction of travel and almost on the spot
  4. The stride count for a ½ CP is 3-4 and a full CP 6-8. This demonstrates the rider is in control
  5. When finishing the Canter Pirouette maintain the same level of collection until the end then go out into a forward canter

Extended Canter ‘10’

  1. Before beginning the turn onto the diagonal the horse should be in a real collected canter. “Mr Clarke made a point of saying that ‘no impulsion-no collection’”
  2. The first stride of the diagonal should be an extended stride
  3. Collect the canter 3-4 strides before the letter then change at the last stride before the letter
  4. The canter should have good ground cover and straightness

To wrap up, it is the judge’s job to describe what happened and a rider’s job to ride the best test they can that day on that horse in that ring. Minimize the movements you don’t do so well and make the ones that you and your horse are stellar at shine.  From Mr. Clarke “today’s horses are working with more impulsion & harmony than ever before.” Harmony is something all of us can strive for.

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