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Train Your Horse Not to Get Heavy Down The Centerline at the End of a Dressage Test

Submitted by member: Catherine

I have a lovely, experienced two star horse on whom I compete training level eventing (soon to move up) and 3’9″ show jumping. She is a very good jumper and a super cross country horse, but her dressage is a bit tense. She is also a very smart horse, and because she has competed so much, she knows exactly what’s going on during the dressage tests, including that we are almost done when I trot down centerline for the second time. She becomes very rigid in the hand and begins to pull and loses the rhythm in her trot. Her halt is subsequently against the hand and unbalanced. Even in tests where she is soft and round most of the time, she pulls me down the final centerline. Any suggestions on how to train this out of her? Thanks.

Answer by Verena Mahin

One way to train this issue is to ride a ton of tests, both at home and at the show. I would suggest taking your eventer to some dressage shows, where you could ride a few tests a day. Keep them easy, with the intention to train the last centerline. Maybe you have to halt early once and every other stride after that when she starts her pulling. You sacrifice the last centerline score, but you are working towards the future, may be worth it to break the habit.

Also, practice riding full tests at home and see if the same thing happens. If it does, you can train it with a thousand transitions to the halt, or 10-meter circles off the centerlines. If it doesn’t, then pay close attention to your own body, making sure you stay relaxed and are still focusing on riding every step. It’s easy to get tight and rushy in the last few movements. After all, as riders we are also happy when the last centerline is upon us. She sounds like a wonderful mare.

Video Recommendation:


Suppleness – Unlocking the Gaits
Verena Mahin
A supple horse who is relaxed and whose physical and mental state indicate he enjoys his work is, of course, ideal in any discipline and especially dressage. A tense, stiff or rigid horse is unable to use his body effectively and can’t properly demonstrate rhythm, relaxation, connection, impulsion, straightness or collection. Join Verena Mahin as she shares her favorite exercises to attain a greater degree of suppleness that subsequently allows the horse to move with bigger, more expressive gaits.
Running Time:  32 minutes and 44 seconds

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Verena Mahin

Verena is the owner and trainer at the California based VS Dressage Inc. She has had many successes at FEI level, competing and coaching through Grand Prix. In 2011 she coached two riders representing Puerto Rico at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Verena clinics all over the country. Learn more about her and how to book a clinic at:

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