Friday, June 29, 2007

Video Glossary of Dressage Movements

Many of my readers are not horse people, or if they ride they don't do dressage. I have been asked by a few people to explain my horse terms in more depth than I have been. While I don't have a problem with doing that, I realize that it's much easier to show what I'm talking about rather than type it all out.

This will be a section that I'll update from time to time as we add more and more advanced movements to our training regime. I'll give official definitions from the United States Equestrian Federation, as well as my own simple descriptions that even non-horse folks will be able to follow (hopefully). I'll also post a video or two so you can actually see what I'm talking about. So check back often, as you'll be with us every step of the way and get to see what fun things we will be schooling next.

I'm going to include a permanent link on the left side of my main page (under the archives) so that you don't have to dig through the archives to see this page, since it will be changing.

The Leg Yield

As defined by The United States Equestrian Federation Rule book (pdf) - Rule DR111.2.b. The rule is quoted verbatim below and is italicized, with corresponding figure from the rulebook to the left of the text.

"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 paces 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 at an angle of about 35 degrees to the direction in which he is moving (see fig. 5).

In simple terms - the horse is moving both sideways and forwards, but the body is traveling in a straight diagonal line. The horse's body is slightly bent so that he is looking in the opposite direction on which he is traveling.

The leg yield is a movement which is introduced at First Level, test 2. Horses at any level can practice it, as it gives the rider an opportunity to make a stiff horse more supple, or a crooked horse more straight. By virtue of the positioning of the horse's body it allows the inside hind leg to reach farther under the horse and bear more weight. This helps make the horse stronger and more supple to prepare for collected work later on.

Below is a video of Kaswyn and I performing a leg yield to the left. Both the leg yields are fairly good, althought the one to the left could be a little more consistant in the bend, and could have more reach and push. The one to the right is quite good.

Below is our leg yield to the right.


As defined by The United States Equestrian Federation Rule book (pdf) - DR111.3.f. The rule is quoted verbatim below and is italicized, with corresponding figure from the rulebook to the left of the text.

"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)."

Figure 1 shows the body position of the horse as viewed from above. The rail of the arena is on the left of the horse, so the horse is performing a shoulder-in right. As shown in the figure, the horse should be ridden on "three tracks" - that is, the left hind travels forward in it's own line, the right hind and left front travel the same line, and the right front travels it's own line. If you watch the video you should be able to see Kaswyn going on three tracks.

The shoulder-in is introduced in Second level, test 1. It's called shoulder-in because the horse's shoulders are ridden off the track and in towards the center of the arena. It's a great exercise for suppling and building the strength needed for collected work. While in the leg yield the horse's body is parallel to the rail and he's traveling diagonally, in the shoulder-in the horse is traveling parallel to the rail and his body is positioned diagonally. The rulebook definition says that shoulder-in is performed at the trot, but you can also do it at the canter - it's just more challenging.

I have a lot of problems with Kaswyn's shoulder-ins. They are not as consistent as I'd like in the bend or the rhythm, and they lack smoothness and push from behind. Even though he can technically satisfy the requirement of the movement as far as position, it's a hard exercise for him execute well or easily. A horse going into shoulder-in should ideally put more weight on the haunches, lift the shoulders, and generate more pushing power from behind. There should be a nice bend in the horse's body and the quality of trot should not change from a regular trot to the shoulder-in. Kaswyn tends to get a little stiff behind, causing him to shuffle and stab his hind legs instead of sitting and pushing. So in order to lift his shoulders he braces a bit in the neck and gets tight, and the quality of trot suffers, as does the bend.

Here is our video of shoulder-in right. Considering our usual problems it's not too bad. He still is a little narrow behind and a bit choppy.

Video of Shoulder-in left. You can see half-way through where we lose the bend and angle and begin to drift of the rail, so I have to correct it. Not terrible, but still needs work.

Travers - also known as Haunches-In

As defined by The United States Equestrian Federation Rule book (pdf) - Rule DR111.3.g. The rule is quoted verbatim below and is italicized, with corresponding figure from the rulebook to the left of the text.

"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)."

Figure 2 shows the body position of the horse as viewed from above. The rail of the arena is on the left of the horse, so the horse is performing a travers right. Unlike the shoulder-in, it is performed on four tracks instead of three - meaning that no leg should directly follow the same line of travel as any other leg. This is due to the angle being 35 degrees instead of 30 degrees as in the shoulder-in.

Travers (pronounced trah-vare) is introduced in Second Level, test 2. It's very similar to shoulder-in, except that the haunches are pushed in to the center of the arena instead of the shoulders.

Here is our video of travers right. Again he seems a little narrow behind and I'd like to see his right hind coming more to the right and forward with more reach.

Video of travers left. This one is quite nice.


Rising Rainbow said...

Wow, video! You're doing great. I can't even figure out how to get it uploaded from my camera!!

This is a great idea doing the dressage moves and then illustrating them with video. I look forward to more.

EquineSpirit said...

GREAT videos! Love you blog too by the way! It's wonderful!!

Wiola said...

Fantastic glossary and the videos really are a great idea. Lovely horse by the way :)
I have added your blog link to mine and will definitely be visiting for updates :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting these videos!!! I'm in a beginning dressage class and have read some of the classic books, but still didn't really understand what the moves were supposed to look like. We have been working on leg yielding. Your videos really helped me understand the terms and what the moves are supposed to look like!!!

horselover said...

Nice videos. The only thing is that you don't show and tell us about is how to get the horse to do theese drasage moves. No offence to your site, but please teach us how we are suppose to do this. Thank you!:)

Back in the saddle... said...

Great move. It takes someone who has actually done it to know how difficult and physical dressage can be!This section of your blog is super interesting, great videos. Thanks!

Nikki said...

Well written article.

Halan said...

Thank you very much for articles and videos mom.I am a beginner riding instructor.could you tell us how to do it too.

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Packer Mom said...

I too am a (later) middle age mom who has just started Dressage and truly appreciate how you are synthesizing the literal explanation to the visual. It really helps me to understand the terms and how they are to look. It would be great if you could throw in the cues that are to accompany the movements to really put the icing on the cake! I really appreciate what you are doing since lesson can get expensive and we just want to keep ourselves and horses healthy and stimulated. God Bless!!!

Spakles said...

Hey, I was just looking for vidoes of dressge movements because I am getting more into it, and this was great :) my H leader has been starting to get me to do these, and now I know what they have to look like lol

RiderWriter said...

Sheri, this was really helpful! I have read articles and seen diagrams but to have video of each separate movement explains things SO much better. I do not even ride dressage (Hunters) but try hard to understand and apply lower-level techniques as best I can. I actually do ride a trained-to-Second-Level dressage horse sometimes, but since I haven't a clue how to ask him to do anything beyond a leg yield it doesn't do me much good. (This boy hasn't done any "real" dressage in about 18 years, anyway) The thought of trying to ask for Travers in particular makes my head spin - I'd be a pretzel and the poor horse would probably buck me off! :-)

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