The Dreaded Zig Zag!

The Zig Zag!  I am not referring here to any social media chirpings of a politician who shall remain nameless.  I only write about horses on this blog!  For those of you who are dressage riders and are familiar with the zigzag I think you may be nodding in recognition and understanding why I call it the “dreaded” zig zag.

The zig zag is the bane of my existence as dressage rider.  This year we moved up to the Intermediare 1.  Here’s what is required in that zig zag at that level. I quote from the FEI requirements as stated in the Dressage Competition Handbook.

A  Down centerline. Between D&G  3 half passes 5 meters to either side of the centerline with flying change of leg at each change of direction starting and ending to the  right . G flying change of leg. C Track to the left. “

OK!  So what are my problems. 1) I am not quick enough getting Biasini straightened from the first half pass before asking for the flying change. 2) I am not quick enough getting Biasini back and with me as we head across on the 2nd half pass and so he takes over. 3) having lost it on the 2nd half pass I am not quick enough to recover and I miss the distance for the 3rd half pass.  I just need to be QUICKER!

I have ridden the zig zag in competition in Florida this past winter.  So I know that I can actually do it. Why am I concerned about it now?

In the time since I got home to Ontario, in April,  my coach Belinda Trussell, has been working on getting me to improve Biasini’s frame, his lightness and his cadence (more air time in his stride).  That has been going well. However……putting that into practice in a movement like the zig zag is another matter and having improved the gaits I now have a “hotter” horse. Hotter horses need quick and calm riding. Quicker again!!

For the record: Both of my coaches, Lou Denizard in Florida during the winter season and Belinda Trussell here at home, have given me excellent instruction with different exercises to work on the things that are involved in the zig zag without endlessly repeating the zig zag itself. They have also given me excellent mental images. Belinda’s favourite is to compare the zig zag to a waltz that flows back and forth.  Oh how I wish I could execute it like that! So my difficulty with the  zig zag is not their fault.

It is also not the fault of my horse Biasini. He can do a travers(haunches in) down the longside beautifully. A half pass is just a travers on a diagonal line. He can also do nice flying changes. It is his rider….me…that is not quick enough with her aids that causes us to make mistakes.

Last week while Belinda was away at a show I practiced on my own. Then quite by chance I watched a video of Charlotte Dujardin riding her new mount Freestyle in the CDI at Bolesworth in England. In the Grand Prix there is the zig zag to end all zig zags! It had five half passes and they have a specific number of canter strides allowed for each one.  Here is a video. If you go to minute 4:27 you will see the start of the zig zag. In case this video will not play in your location there is also a You Tube video of the Grand Prix ridden by Charlotte on Freestyle back in April. The zig zag starts at 4:30.

I do NOT think I have to ride like Charlotte Dujardin. She is one of the top professionals in the world. But what I learned from the video is that she rides her horse with the same criteria: bending in the half pass, straightening, changing the flexion and then the flying change. Those are the things I must get right at my  level as well.

She is, of course, quicker than me!  But I’m working on that. I will keep you posted on my progress.


14 responses to “The Dreaded Zig Zag!”

  1. Avery Avatar

    With time, my dear friend, you will get there! It is one of the hardest things. Every day you get better! Side note, have you ever heard Charlotte’s comments on the zig zag?! She hates them haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      funny thing is all the Grand Prix level riders hate it. So I’m not alone! Haha! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Laleh Chini Avatar

    Great job, a very hard zig zag. Nice.<3

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alli Farkas Avatar

    Ha ha! For me it is the dreaded First Level leg yield loop, with change from right to left at X. I can’t imagine a zig zag when I can’t even get a flexion change half way down the ring! I’m sure you will get the zig zag long before I get the leg yield.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Oh I don’t know about that Alli. You will get that leg yield and then be on to some other challenge. The challenges just keep turning up as you move up the levels! Good luck! Thanks for commenting.


  4. Nurul Fitri Lubis Avatar

    It sounds really difficult for me. You’re amazing, Anne..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      It is rather complicated and happens so fast! I’m not really amazing Nurul but i just work at getting it right.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A Cob That Can Avatar

    Crikey I see why its called the Dreaded ZigZag!!!!
    You look amazing, keep it up and looking forward to the next ‘ZZ’. report.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Thanks so much for the support. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Emma Cownie Avatar

    Gosh that looks fiendishly difficult!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Well the video of Charlotte Dujardin is the Grand Prix ZZ the one I have to do is only 3 back and forth ZZs but it is still fiendishly difficult. However i shall press on! Thanks for commenting Emma!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. dprastka Avatar

    I admire you so much, that zig zag sounds very complicated and difficult and yet you are able to achieve your goals most of the time. I love your writings as I can picture you performing what you write about. And I do know what you mean how a horse gets hotter, experienced that myself with my jumping horse or more accurately my hunter back in the day. He was so hot, and the more we practiced the hotter he got! AND so we just practiced single fences and just did course work at the horse shows. This slowed him down until he memorized the course. My show horse was a blast to ride as he LOVED to jump. Anyways, I hope you master the zig zag, I’m sure you will soon! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Thanks so much for this wonderful comment! Yes i think if they enjoy the work they get hotter with enthusiasm. Sounds like your jumper was like that.

      Liked by 1 person

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