Tuesday, December 22, 2009

101 things: new series


At work, we have a series of books floating around called 101 things every golfer/diver/audiophile/driver/ect should do before they die. They're beautiful coffee table books.

But it also made me think as a dressage rider. What's 101 things, as a rider I should do before I retire out and go onto bigger pastures?

101st thing: Learn to meter and letter a regulation dressage arena.

A regulation arena is 20 meters by 60 meters (or for those font of feet- 66 by 197- rounded for conversion). This is the only element of dressage the doesn't change with the level. Your dress may change, where you compete and ride may change, your bridle will change, but the 20 by 60 meter box you enter, perform and exit will never change.

The arena is used not only in competition, but in training. Until you've put one together (or ridden in one), the feel of the distance and finite space feels a bit fuzzy. Think walking a jump course versus looking at the diagram.

The arena doesn't need to be show quality, just accurate. You can make an arena out of ten ground poles and a few staked letters. If you need a judges box, an open horse trailer could do as well.

To measure out, start with a corner, stake it and measure 20 meters (66 feet). Mark the second corner. From the second corner measure 60 meters (197 feet) down the length. If your measuring tape is too short, do it in sections, marking off everywhere you left. From the third corner, measure the second short side and then the second long side.

This is the basic outline, to make sure you have a proper rectangle, you measure diagonally from corner one to corner three, and corner four to corner two. Move the corner stakes in or out so that each diagonal line is equal to 207.8 feet. We have rounded the exact measurements in converting meters to feet (20 meters = 65.6 feet and 60 meters = 196.8 feet).

Now you're geometrically correct, lay the letters. The basic package of letters is AKEHCMBE.

Start with A and C, place them half way down the short side, letting A stand back a ways from the entrance. Once aligned start clockwise from C, six meters from the second corner, put M into place, 24 meters B, and six meters from the third corner F. Repeat with K, E and H, same distances. Go back around and align all the letters with each other, using X (center of the arena as a check point.

If you have to move the arena (eventually you will if you groom the arena), mark off letter spaces with electrical tape.

Congratulations, your first arena! Go ride. 

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