Dressage in General



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The 3-Loop Serpentine

The horse travels back and forth across the arena while maintaining the appropriate bend, flexion, rhythm and tempo. Serpentines can be performed four different ways and in all three gaits. A serpentine can consist of a single loop or a double-loop. It can also be performed along the centerline or across the arena.

How to Execute the 3-Loop Serpentine Across the Arena

Start in the trot rising

Half halt in the middle of the short side of the arena, using the outside rein

Bend the horse to the inside using the inside rein and applying pressure at the girth with the inside leg

Slide the outside leg back slightly to control the haunches

Allow the horse’s neck to bend to the inside by “allowing” slightly with the outside hand

Perform half of a 20 meter circle continuing straight across the arena

When crossing the center of the arena, change posting diagonal and the horse’s bend/flexion

Repeat with alternating aids for the remaining two (2) loops


Every time there is a change in direction, there must be a change in flexion and bend.

Contact should be light.

The horse’s body should adjust smoothly in the lateral bend.

Serpentines should be performed in the basic gaits and at the working and collected paces.

Serpentines can be ridden in the warm up or the work phase of a schooling session.

Purpose of the 3-Loop Serpentine

To improve the horse’s flexibility.

To improve the horse’s coordination.

To improve the horse’s lateral mobility.

Common Errors in Execution

The horse has incorrect flexion and bend.

The horse goes against the rider’s hand.

The horse is tight in the neck.

The horse is on the forehand.

The rider doesn’t ask for enough lateral bend.

The rider changes flexion and bend too early or too late.

The rider’s loops are too shallow.

The rider plans the pattern poorly.

The rider creates asymmetrical loops.

The rider does not change the diagonal of the rising trot when crossing the arena.

The rider changes canter leads too early or too late.


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