Riding a centre line might sound simple, but a particularly good one can be tricky to achieve, especially if there is a halt included on it. But, it is important you get this movement right as they book-end your dressage test and can both set the standard for the marks in your test and help with the collective marks at the end. Here, event rider Franky Reid-Warrilow (pictured below) gives her top tips on how to ride the perfect centre line…
1. Always practice riding straight lines at home either down the centre line or ¾ line. This should prevent your horse from becoming too dependent on the side of the arena for straightness. It will also help prepare them for a test where there will only be boards. Also remember to practice your halts at home, focusing on squareness and immobility.
2. When you are at a competition, make sure you enter the arena on whatever rein your horse is straightest on.
3. Remember to always smile at the judge when riding down the centre line, both at the beginning and end of your test. It shows confidence and can help you as a rider to stay relaxed.
4. Attack your centre line — ride forward and positive as this should help to engage the horse’s hind quarters so they stay straight.
5. To prepare for the halt, remember to do a half-halt to adjust the tempo. If you have a halt at the beginning of your test, it can sometimes be tricky to come out of it in a straight line and not wiggle. To try and prevent this, I always think push and power. Try and be punchy out of the halt to keep the engagement and straightness.
6. Think about keeping the straightness from the back legs, not the front legs. Straightness comes from behind.
Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these dressage competitions available to enter where you can show off what you’ve learnt…
Unaffiliated dressage & combined training
Date: 31 March
Venue: Todburn Equestrian Centre, Morpeth
Details: “This competition features classes from intro to novice, with the option of showjumping between 50 and 85cm too”
Date: 31 March
Venue: Finchingfield Equestrian Centre, Braintree
Details: “This unaffiliated competition features classes ranging between into and medium with rosettes to sixth and prizes to third.”
Date: 4 April
Venue: Field House, Staffordshire
Details: “This affiliated competition features classes from prelim to advanced medium, plus a pick your own option too.”
Date: 5 April
Venue: Urchinwood Manor Riding and Event Centre, Bristol
Details: “This unaffiliated show has walk and trot, prelim and novice classes with rosettes to sixth.”
Date: 6 April
Venue: Reaseheath College, Nantwich
Details: “Classes from prelim to prix st georges including some qualifiers.”
Quest and unaffiliated dressage
Date: 7 April
Venue: Netherton Equestrian Centre, Perth
Details: “This competition includes classes from intro up to advanced medium with My Quest, Team Quest and unaffiliated options plus some qualifiers.”
Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings