MARK RUDDOCK, the Surrey-based List 1 judge and trainer, started his analysis of elementary 59 by saying, “I am not a lover of this test. It’s not easy to judge because I think the movements could be broken down better. From the rider’s point of view it’s not very flowing and not easy to remember. The movements are like a row of dominoes, so it all can quickly quickly go pear shaped. In this test, if one of your dominoes topples, I would sacrifice a movement, or part of a collection of movements, to re-group. If you go wrong, there is no time for repair without a sacrifice while you get a grip of yourself as a rider and get the horse under control. Elementary 59 can be quite unsettling for the rider and for the horse, too.”
Entry, halt at X and working trot, turn right: nothing difficult with that — so bank good marks!
The movement begins at M and at B you half 20m circle in working trot. Easy enough, the judge will be looking for rhythm, bend and the shape of the half-circle, but also included in the mark is a half 10m circle from E to X. I think that should be two separate marks because you can have a great half 20m and a rubbish half 10m or vice versa. As a judge you’re quickly adding, subtracting and dividing to arrive at your mark.
At X the rider leg yields right to K. this is quite tricky. You’ve done a half 10m circle and you must take time to finish the circle and ensure the horse’s hindleg is on the centreline before you leg yield. I would advise riders to ride it too deep so it bulges out at the top so my horse arrives at the centreline before X, take a moment through X to straighten and then change the bend to left inside flexion to prepare for the lateral movement — then leg yield. Ensure that you have a beginning and middle and an end to the movement.
“You see most people, because they rush round movement 2, fall sideways and they end up with hind legs trailing and it isn’t a leg yield at all. If they do achieve most of it, what can let it down is the rider forgetting that the hindlegs need to get to K, too — it they don’t, you will get the comment “not finished”
You pick up the big marks by finishing the movement properly. Horses like to give up, but don’t let them. Then you go all the way round to P.
At P there is a change of rein in medium trot to H, followed by working trot to M. There is quite a long way to go, K-P, in the previous movement for the horse to disengage. The test doesn’t give you a corner to engage, so use a little bit of shoulder-fore to have the engagement for the medium. This is an elementary, so the judge will want to see the horse go from the marker to marker. We also have the transitions into and out of the medium in this mark.
This begins at M, then at R you turn right. This is more difficult than ir appears. I think perhaps people don’t train enough turns across the arena. Prepare for the turn and look for the letter S at the opposite side and then half at I. Just the halt is included in this movement, so take a breath and show that the horse has halted. Make sure your leg is over the centreline: it must be accurately placed for a good mark. The judge at C will see that.
Once you’ve shown your moment of immobility, movement 5 asks for two to five steps of rein back. Two is barely enough, but if you can show five and you know they will be straight that will attract a higher mark. But less is more if your horse if there’s a risk that your horse will get crooked.
“I would always say that when you are halting at the beginning and end of a test, don’t fiddle with the halt if the horse leaves a leg behind. But in this halt, the reinback quality will be affected if the horse doesn’t go from a square halt. But you know your horse. If it will get upset it by the correction, then ignore this advice”
The movement calls for a move-off after reinback in working trot but there will be one step of walk before (as it will have gone back in diagonal pairs) before it can push up into the transition. The instructions emphasise fluency and throughness of the transitions. Getting out into trot needs working on. Even when the horse is going back, it must be in front of the leg!
This is a repetition on left rein of movement 2 and the same comments apply.
Same comments as in movement 3.
This is a change of rein in medium trot (as movement 4), then working trot to C where you do a transition to medium walk to H where the next movement begins. The horse needs to walk straight away at C so don’t give the judge an opportunity to deduct a mark from your good medium.
HIB change rein in a free walk on a long rein. It’s not a long diagonal so you need to get on with it but make sure your horse’s hindlegs are on the diagonal before the free walk and pick up again before making the turn on to the next diagonal for movement 11
You turn on to the BLK diagonal line for medium walk again. Don’t make the angle too acute (curve it round) because otherwise it will inhibit the forwardness and fluency of the walk. The medium walk continues around to A. The danger as you approach A is anticipation of the strike off to canter, so practise not starting doing your canter at A! But have your horse slightly shoulder-fore in preparation for the up trans.
This is a walk to canter at A and canter round to P.
Circle left 20 metres at P and be aware of the maths! If you go on to B you will have gone too far, and remember a 20 metre diameter circle from P will be 2m in from X and D (which are 24m apart). You also have to show a transition to trot (2 to 5 steps) when crossing the centre line for the second time. This is quite nice because you have three-quarters of a circle to sort the suppleness out, and placement-wise, the judge would like to see the trot transition before the centreline, trot through the centre line, even steps either side and resuming the canter — all while maintaining the shape of the circle. Sometimes the shape goes but it’s not too difficult a movement with a little bit of practice.
Things can go terribly wrong at this point. The PIG movement, involves working canter on a diagonal to the centreline I then a ‘dog-leg’ turn straight down the centreline to G then a turn C. The straightening onto the diagonal from P will show the judge how on the aids the horse is and the horse should have a slight left flexion or it may change leg. For straightness of the horse from I to G it should be should be slightly shoulder-fore left. It isn’t easy and a lot of horses break on that centreline. It needs practising.
You turn left at C (all in the same movement!) and then between H and S a half 10m circle. As a rider, if you haven’t got the horse engaged and you need a little more time, make it nearer S than H. This will also make the half circle a little later and will give you more room on the centreline to start the next movement.
This is a simple change between I to and G picking up canter right for a half 10m circle between M and R. The simple change must be on the centreline and the horse must be straight as it walks, but you will be changing from left to right flexion for the new lead. For a big mark you want the canter strike off to be straight on the centreline then turn. With a baby horse you may decide to turn it, then canter to ensure the correct lead but it will make a couple of marks difference.
This is a medium canter from R — and R comes up very quickly, so ideally you want to place your right half 10m to allow a moment to organise yourself: think shoulder-fore for straightness and engagement for the medium.
FAK is a working canter but with a give and retake over A which riders often forget and it will show the judge whether the horse is under control and balanced. Quite often, too, when the rider does remember the give and retake, the horse breaks into trot. The movement finishes at V.
The 20m canter circle at V is a repetition of movement 13 but on the right rein.
This is a repetition of movement 14, but goes VIG then the dog-leg turn to go down centreline, etc
Movement 20 and 21
Mirrors of movements 15 and 16
This movement, turn down the centreline in canter to transition at D to working trot, is more difficult than you might. It is the first time horses will have been asked to turn down the centreline in canter, so think about balance. A lot of horses after the long side S to K medium will overshoot at A, so there’ll be some exciting braking and then, again, D isn’t too far down the centreline, so you must have turned and be straight quickly.
But if the rider wants to be cheeky, the judge won’t be able to tell where D is so you can wait a little bit — as long as you show some working trot — but make sure the horse is straight and balanced first for the transition. Take a breath then finish with an L-G medium crescendo. With some really expressive horses the C judge will be able to see cadence but at championships, the side judge can easily tell whether it is a medium.
A whole 10 marks is allocated to the final halt, immobility and salute, after the medium — so worth practising in sequence.
© Out and About Dressage Ltd, July 2016