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#trainingtip Summer Ice Creams

This #trainingtip is an extension of our Centre Lines blog from May, and also essential reading if you’re planning to enter our Summer Ice Creams dressage test/s for June.

Remember June/July/August are running as a short-format Summer League this year, with our Summer Champions at each level winning an exclusive personalised Demi Dressage t-shirt!

If you haven’t read the Centre Lines #trainingtip, you can find it here

Using a similar training technique with poles and/or cones, you can now put your straight lines into a different sort of practice with our ice creams! Using poles and cones is a perfect way to introduce what might be a completely new shape for many riders.

demi dressage arena schooling pony teardrop exercise
Using poles and cones to mark out 'ice cream' shapes

Remember the correct term for these 'teardrop' shapes is a 'demi volte and incline to track'. Demi Volte means half circle (the size can vary), and so the start of the ice cream 🍧 shape in our tests is a 10m half circle. Once the half circle is completed and the rider is straight on the centre line, they then continue a slight turn to proceed in a straight line to the given letter that finishes the movement. So, in the example on the left, the half circle starts at K. More advanced riders may not need the cone by K - but a lot of riders turn too soon, so use the cone to make sure they get to K before they start their half circle to D (the centre line). You can use another cone to help indicate where the centre of their half circle should be, and then you can use cones or poles to mark D, and the incline they need to take back to the final letter (in this case H) - adjust how many cones and poles you use, and their positioning, depending on your rider's age and ability, and their understanding of the exercise! For example for very young riders, you might want to use pairs of poles to create channels for the inclines. The ultimate aim is the shape on the top right of the diagram (in orange): the movement ridden with no poles or cones at all as guides.

Keep in mind you CANNOT use poles and cones as guides in your actual filmed test, so gradually reduce your rider’s reliance on the visual aids so they can ride the correct shape without any help, just as they will need to when you film!

(Tip: if you have bought our welcome pack, encourage your child to draw the shape out on that first, to help them visualise the lines they need to ride!)

The longer ‘cones’ require the rider to maintain their straightness for longer after their half circle, but they also require a less acute angle to the track. Our tests include both a long and short incline to the track – so remember to practice both AND make sure you work your pony evenly by practising them off both reins.

As with a lot of school movements, 'ice creams' are a relatively simple movement once you've got the idea - but they can be hard to ride well... Accuracy is once again all-important for those higher marks. Encourage your rider to think about their accuracy to each and every letter, and break the movement down to two parts. First the half circle (the scoop of ice cream), then the incline (the cone)! 🍧😃

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