September 9, 2016

First Practice Ride in the Big Ring

Do you know what this is?

That's the letter R.  For the non-Dressagey among us, all Dressage tests above a certain level (usually training, depending on the show) are performed in the standard ring (20x60m), but lower level tests (and all eventing tests up to a really high level) are performed in the small ring (20x40m).  The big ring has extra letters over the small ring - RSVP.

Since my barn is an eventing barn, we have a small ring:

Small ring

I honestly didn't even know we had the rest of the pieces to it stowed away, until Liz told me, and then we started a mission to get the BO to put it up.  It's asking a lot: it has to be moved regularly or else we kill the grass in predictable patterns, and it's a pain to weed eat around.  But now we have two 1st+ Dressage riders and the BO's daughter is doing 1* eventing now, so we do have a need for a big ring.

I heard angels singing when I got to the barn and saw this.
But they did put it up, so for the first time in my life I was able to school in the big ring last week.  And you know what?  Yes, you can absolutely do Dressage in the standard ring at shows and the small ring at home, but there are some things you can't practice without the exact right geometry.

Not the lead we're supposed to be on here.

In my first ride in the big ring, I figured out why he always breaks to in the left canter shallow loop.  It's not impulsion, it's bend.  The left leg is my weak leg, the left bend is our worst bend.  We turn the corner and he gets straight, and probably thinks we're heading down the diagonal.  With a straight horse, I then try to turn into the second half of the loop, and he breaks.

It took me a few tries to figure that out, but once I did and I made the correction, he was great.  I wouldn't have figured that out in any other size ring, and I wouldn't have figured it out just by failing at it at the shows.


  1. I never realized the extra letters made up RSVP. I can see how the arena size would effect you though. I don't have a marked dressage arena of any size to practice in and realized how much that was hurting me in my last test.

  2. Ahhh so awesome! Our local shows run Training in the large arena, and the first time I showed in the 'big' ring after schooling in a makeshift 'small' ring I totally got lost! Having the right size arena makes a big difference!

  3. I love big arenas!! My new arena is the best thing ever.

  4. So cool! That's awesome that they have the pieces :)

  5. Also if you're on a bolty horse, the big ring looks like a lot of real estate. Just saying. Not that I've ever had that problem. :-p

  6. Today's ride brought to you by the letter R... :D