Janet Foy and Chris Hickey Clinic Recap: Second – Fourth and Overall Impressions

Phew, how are you guys handling the information overload? Today’s post starts with the Second level rides, which was most interesting to me as this is what we are (were) working towards this year. Because of that, I took some rather shoddy video of Janet critiquing this pair as they rode part of Second level test 1.


(excuse my video skills, was trying to watch and listen at the same time!)

Second Level

  • At this level, collection is expected to “come and go” slightly
  • When the test was rewritten, Janet advocated for less counter-canter in the second level tests as she thought it was counter-productive for those schooling changes
    • She feels the current test therefore has too much counter canter
  • The short sides of the arena are the only place where the judge can see overall balance/collection/etc
Eliza demonstrates the Extended trot

Eliza demonstrates the Extended trot for Third level

Third Level

  • The primary goal of the half pass is forward, the secondary is sideways
  • The half pass should have more bend than a 10 meter circle
Another Raleigh trainer rides in the Fourth level demo

Another Raleigh trainer rides in the Fourth level demo

Fourth Level

  • In walk or canter pirouette, the haunches should be in the direction of the bend
  • Flying changes are the most “personal” of movements for a horse/rider pair, and so are most difficult to replicate for a strange rider
    • This because each rider is built differently- for instance she compared her leg length to Chris’s, which are about 6 inches longer. Her cue for the change will be in a very specific place, so if Chris asked for a change on her horse the horse might overreact due to not being used to feeling the leg ‘there’. If she got on Chris’s horse, the horse would likely ignore her aid for the change because her leg couldn’t reach where the horse is expecting that cue.

First level Friesian

Interesting Tid-Bits

  • In Europe, judges at the CDI level are only paid a per-diem fee of roughly ~$150, but nothing else, so judging is really out of a passion for the sport
  • The German language has much better verbage for dressage, whereas they have a single word for a concept, in English we sometimes need whole sentences to describe it. Takeaway? Germans just speak dressage better than us.
  • The change of diagonal (HXF or MXK) in intro builds the foundation for flying changes, as it tests the straightness of the horse
  • Most tests are written for the judge at C, so in tests where there are multiple judges C tends to be the highest score
    • Judging at ‘H’ is referred to the Hellhole, since judge’s can only see the horse’s ass (her words, not mine)
    • Judges at E and B typically give the lowest scores because they can see the most sins
  • Do not, under any circumstances, retire from the arena without the judge’s permission. Not only is it bad sportsmanship, but the judge can (and Janet Foy will) give you a zero for the test (which at a recognized show is a big deal since the scores stay with you forever) and the judge can also opt to give you 0’s for every other ride (even on other horses)
    • It doesn’t matter if it is a local show or a Selection Trials, good sportsmanship matters.

Congratulations to you if you made it through all that! 8 hours of dressage clinic left us all a little brain dead, but eager to hop on our own horses and apply some of the new found knowledge.

Last Thoughts
My overall impression was that each horse was extremely well schooled in the level it was representing. With the exception of the Friesian, all horses were warmbloods of varying quality. A couple were built downhill, a couple flat-crouped, and a couple that were just absolutely drool worthy. The riders also in general were very well turned out and for the most part had nice equitation, but some had holes in their position that definitely reflected in their rides. Seeing some of these imperfections made me think that perhaps a dressage clinic of this caliber might be something that Foster and I could do in the future, and will definitely be something I would consider going forward.

For certain, each rider left the arena having been improved in some shape or form, and the auditors left being a little more schooled in understanding scoring and the execution of movements at each level.

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5 thoughts on “Janet Foy and Chris Hickey Clinic Recap: Second – Fourth and Overall Impressions

  1. Nice notes! Really interesting about the flying changes being personal. I feel like that could be said about a lot of things, though.
    After all that I have been reading lately (Especially Amanda’s post from the Charles de Knuffy clinic) I am starting to feel like position is more important than most people think. Just bought the book Training Strategies for Dressage Riders…I am excited to see what I learn from it!

  2. love the recap – esp the video! i think i’d be kinda stressed to ride a clinic in that format (esp if my horse spazzed out a little like that lol) – but it seems hugely informative!

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