Dressage Today - - Arena News - Fol­low more of Mar­garet Free­man’s blog at dres­sage­to­

If you know how long it takes for your horse to trot around the out­side of a dres­sage arena, it could help to re­duce one small source of anx­i­ety you might have while show­ing.

When the 60-sec­ond rule to en­ter at A af­ter the judge’s bell was re­duced a decade ago to 45 sec­onds, the first thing I did was time my mare (16 hands, nor­mal-length stride) since I didn’t want to be glanc­ing at my watch at that mo­ment. I knew it took about 60 sec­onds to make a com­plete cir­cuit, so I wanted to know what the sweet spot for 45 sec­onds would be. Turned out that spot was near E or B. That meant that the “norider zone,” where I would need to do a 180-de­gree turn when the bell rang, was be­tween A and E/B, and else­where I could just con­tinue with the track I was on.

Here’s the deal: I am be­gin­ning to sus­pect that many rid­ers ei­ther don’t know about the 45-sec­ond rule or over­es­ti­mate how far their horse can go in that time. It’s not that judges are hot to elim­i­nate some­one for this rule be­fore he or she has even en­tered the ring. They aren’t. And they can’t elim­i­nate some­one un­less they are pay­ing close at­ten­tion to a stopwatch, which they won’t be when busy writ­ing com­ments on the pre­vi­ous test, check­ing the day sheet, sort­ing out rider num­bers and dodg­ing the oc­ca­sional wasp dis­lodged ear­lier from the booth’s rafters.

There­fore, rid­ers fudge this is­sue in many in­stances when un­know­ingly tak­ing a lot longer than 45 sec­onds or even 60 sec­onds to lo­cate the gate at A. The ugly mo­ment of truth could come, how­ever, at a show when the ring runs re­ally late or maybe at a cham­pi­onship when the judge at C will be di­rected by show man­age­ment to be more on top of this.

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