Many people ask me about the choreography of their freestyle pattern.
One of the confusions surrounding a freestyle pattern is what is
allowed and what is forbidden at a certain level. Before you can begin
to build a pattern you need to know the difference between movements
and figures so that you don't try something that is on the "forbidden"
list at your level.
What is the difference between movements, figures and patterns?
According to the USDF rule book, dressage movements are leg yields, rein-back,
shoulder-in, travers, renvers, turn on haunches, half-pass (trot or canter), flying
change, pirouette (walk or canter), piaffe, and
• Test Movements: All of the elements that are scored in one box on a dressage test
• Figures: Geometrical component of a dressage test such as circle,
change of rein, and figure-of-eight. Many people use the word "figure"
interchangeably with "movement" which is incorrect.
• Patterns: Geometric design formed in the arena when movements, figures and transitions are combined.
Think of it this way. If you are creating a first level freestyle, you must
include leg yields in both directions as a movement. The leg yield
itself, is a movement. Where and how you do the leg yield is a figure.
For example, you could do a leg yield from the center line to the wall,
or you could do a zig zag creating a more difficult figure and pattern
with the leg yield.
Here is another example. Counter canter is not a required component in a first level freestyle, however, it is
clearly allowed. Therefore, you can ride a counter canter in any figure
to increase the level of difficulty of your choreography and pattern.
Let's say you are riding a second level freestyle. You know the technical
requirements include free walk, shoulder in both directions, travers
and/or renvers at trot, medium trot, 10 meter circles in canter, simple
changes of lead and medium canter. You feel that you can do some of
these movements and figures in a harder sequence than is required at
second level. Can you do this? YES. The USDF rules under the artistic
requirements say: "Any figures, patterns, combination, or transitions
composed of elements permitted in the declared level are permitted.
no limitations on shape or combination of figures, even if the resulting configuration is found in higher levels."
That means you are allowed to create a pattern or figure that includes known
allowed movements (such as shoulder-in) in any form or difficulty that
you choose. This will increase your artistic degree of difficulty
For example. Even though the shoulder-in in all second level tests is shown on the track you may show shoulder-in on the
center line, or anywhere else. You may even combine one shoulder in
left followed by a should-in right. This would be considered a
combination of figures and is allowed.
You are welcome to write and ask me about your own freestyle pattern!
Next month we will go over more examples of figures, movements and requirements for particular levels.There will be an ongoing monthly article about freestyles and choreography on my free monthly news letter if you would like to sign up. www.ruthhoganpoulsen.com