How To Memorise Arena Letters | Questra Sports
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Luckily, there are a few tried-and-true methods for enabling riders to memorise and understand the letters on the dressage arena quickly and easily. We’ve got a set of tips to help you memorise your letters for good!
There are a few key things to remember when trying to memorise dressage arena letters. First, it is important to familiarise yourself with the dressage test you will be riding.
This means knowing what movements are required and in what order they come. Secondly, Practice, practice, practice! Try walking or trotting through the test without your horse to get a feel for the pattern and where the letters are placed.
One method is to create a mental image of the dressage arena and the specific letter placement.
You can picture your horse calmly walking or trotting around the arena, and as you do, note where each letter is located.
Another way to easily memorise dressage arena letters is by utilising mnemonic devices. A mnemonic is any technique that aids memory. In this instance, we’ll use acronyms and rhymes to help you remember the order of the dressage letters.
Do you know all the letters?
When viewing a normal dressage arena arrangement, you will observe letters around the outside edge. They weren't in alphabetical sequence, but rather appear to be a random collection of letters. They do, however, have a rationale for their presence.
These letters are placed at predetermined intervals around the outside of the arena, assisting the dressage rider in following the correct route while performing tests or merely having a session with the instructor.
These markings assist in determining where motions must be conducted, and as a rider, you execute these manoeuvres from point to point. It shows you exactly where you are in the arena and where the exercises begin and end as you proceed through your dressage test.
A is always at the bottom of the arena, on the centerline. C is usually at the top, followed by the judge. The letter X always denotes the centre of the arena, on the centerline.
With all this in mind, here are a couple of catchphrases for remembering the perimeter letters of an arena.
Dressage arenas come in two sizes: 20 meters x 40 meters for small dressage arenas and 60 meters x 20 meters for large dressage arenas (or 20 by 60). The size of the arena might vary depending on the contest and who will be conducting it.
Smaller Dressage Arena - 20 metres x 40 metres
There are 11 letters on a 20 metre by 40-metre dressage arena. Eight of these are located around the arena's perimeter, with the remaining three being unseen and running down the centerline.
AKEHCMBF (Outer Rectangle)
A - All
K - King
E - Edwards
H - Horses
C - Can
M - Manage
B - Big
F - Fences
The above is an infographic to show the letters and dimensions of a small dressage arena (20x40m).
Standard Dressage Arena Size - 20 metres X 60 m
There are 17 letters in a 20 metre by 60-metre dressage arena. There are 12 letters around the periphery and 5 unseen letters down the centerline.
DLXIG (Through Centerline)
D - Doing
L - Lots (This is for a standard-sized arena)
X - Xtra (a bit of stretch but will help you remember!)
I - Is (For standard-sized arenas)
G - Good
For more advanced dressage tests, there are additional outer letters
The above is an infographic to show the letters and dimensions of a standard dressage arena (20x60m)
VSRP (Outer Rectangle, Larger Arena)
V - Vassal: Squire
S - Schzkanzler: Chancellor
R - Ritter: Knight
P - Pferknecht: Groom
So where do these letters come from?
There are different theories about where the letters originated from, but the precise origin is uncertain. The Imperial German Court is by far the most believable of the theories. Prior to 1918, markings were discovered on the walls of the Royal Manstall's stable yard, which was utilized as an exercise yard and surprisingly measured three times the length as the width (60m by 20m) These markings appear to be where the groom would restrain the horse in preparation of his rider.
A small, indoor dressage arena (20x40m)
Now that you know all about dressage arena letters, their purpose, and how to memorise them, get out there and practice! The more you familiarise yourself with the dressage arena and the dressage test movements, the easier it will be to ride correctly.
In the end, it doesn't really matter what sentence you use to remember these letters, as long as it works for you. Use the tips and tricks above to help you on your way, with a little bit of time and practice, you’ll be able to confidently memorise and have them down pat in no time!