Arena letters often present riders with challenges. Achieve success requires precise corners, straightness along centerlines and diagonals, halting at letters appropriately and stopping precisely at each letter.
One theory suggests that dressage arena letters likely originated from markings on the walls of Imperial German court at Royal Manstall and may also have been influenced by cavalry arena markings between stable blocks in Germany Cavalry barracks.
Measure the Area
If you want to perform dressage movements to specific measurements, setting up your arena correctly is of utmost importance. There are various techniques for doing so successfully – one being using mnemonic devices (memory aids). Simply visualize yourself calmly walking around in circles while noting where each letter is situated can easily help you recall its location in memory.
Step one in measuring an arena is taking its measurements. This will give you a rough idea of its size, and help place letters appropriately. A measuring tape should be used to ensure accurate distance measurements are recorded accurately – and make sure you mark correct locations using this approach – it works equally well with short or long arenas!
Decide where you would like the letter A placed. For instance, in an arena setting it up in rows should place it near one of its short sides with equal spacing between letters across all short sides. Make sure all of them look even.
Once you’ve established where each letter should go, mark them using stakes so you know exactly where each one belongs.
Mark the Short Sides
Numbered short sides help riders and judges accurately align the letters, making it easier for horses to memorize the sequences that comprise certain dressage movements.
Start by measuring out 15 meters from the first long side (where M will be). Mark this location with a temporary stake, before measuring out 20 meters from the end of the first short side and placing another temporary Stake there.
Now that you have two corners that are exact squares, it is time to begin marking out your arena. Use one of your arena fencing measuring tapes and measure out 60 or 40 meters from where the second corner was made with your 2nd Stake and place your third Stake there – you should have three straight corners with accurate short and long sides.
On the remaining long sides, measure six or 14 meters away from each of the short side corners and mark them accordingly. Repeat this process on all of the remaining long sides until all have 17 marks; make sure a gate exists somewhere on all of them so horses can enter and leave easily.
Measure the Long Sides
Precise dressage arena letter placement provides riders with markers that allow them to move from side-to-side of an arena without creating confusion, helping them remember both the order of letters and their spacing, which are crucial components in performing tests and drills efficiently in an arena. Lettering should either be done manually or through mnemonic devices – either way it is essential that riders know how to read them prior to riding in an arena.
If your arena is too small to mark all four sides with stakes, you can still create an effective environment by marking corners with items like cones, placards, buckets or anything that will be visible from the center of the ring. If yours shares with jumpers as well, make sure they keep jumps out of sight when not training there – this will preserve its condition!
To accurately measure the first long side, first set up your corner between C and M with your first stake, using tape measures to create 90-degree angles in this corner and establish which long side you wish to measure first (between C and M). Measure 15 meters along this long side before placing temporary stakes along it for measuring purposes.
Place the Letters
Dressage arenas can be an expensive endeavor to install and maintain, especially for recreational riders. Luckily, there are ways you can make your own arena letter markers using materials you likely already possess such as wood poles, plastic stakes, buckets or anything else suitable to set up around an arena fence and write on. A ring with just a few letter markers may provide just as much benefit than an official dressage arena in noncompetitive scenarios.
Standard dressage arenas use letters such as A, K, V, E, S and H for short sides and F, M, D and K for long sides to identify individual positions on an arena. There have been various theories as to why these particular letters were chosen for use; most experts agree they may have been introduced by commissioned cavalry officers who helped pioneer dressage’s creation.
The center line of the arena is marked with additional letters running up and down its centreline from entrance to judge’s stand, such as A, D, L X I G that also line up directly with letters on short sides to provide further guidance for figure shape and size. These A D LX I and G also form part of direct lines with letters located along short sides to aid figure sizing and shaping.