I'm slowly re-blogging the #weekendwisdom posts from the Facebook page - here's an important one! 🌈Centre Lines! 🌈 There's at least two in every test, so it pays to get them right!
Those of you who remember our February "Do You Want To Build A Snowman?" test might remember the creative use of some 'props' - now it was partly all a bit of winter fun, but we did see a big improvement on how straight our rider's centre lines were as the snowman's face focused them!
So, this is a really simple exercise to set up, and you can do lots with it (starting with teaching young riders the locations of those sneaky 'hidden' letters!) If you haven't got 6 poles, use cones (or upturned buckets!) instead:
What we see a lot of, is riders who start straight but who maybe then drift (40m is quite a long way to ride straight, especially on the dawdly ponies! It's much easier to ride accurately on a pony who is taking the rider forwards - think of how much harder it is to stay upright on a bicycle when you're trickling along, compared to when you are pedalling actively...) By using poles at all three of the centre line letters, you encourage a good turn and straight start, and help maintain that accuracy right to the end.
Make sure your rider practices turning onto the centre line from both the left and the right reins to work their ponies evenly. For the older ones, can you ask them which way their pony is easiest to turn? Just like humans, ponies can be right or left 'sided'! Is it easier to maintain the straightness in walk or in trot?
You can also use the pole corridors as 'junction blocks' - ride a transition through each one, e.g. Can you turn down the centre line at A in trot, transition to walk through the X corridor, transition to halt at G? (Yes, this movement does appear in tests! It caught a LOT of riders out in our May "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" tests last year - hint hint!)
Keep your pony interested by reversing the pattern and where you do the transitions - for example you could turn down the centre line at C (going towards A, i.e. away from the 'judge') in walk and trot through the G poles, staying in trot through X before coming back to walk through the D poles, or vice versa. Mix it up! And have fun 😃