Riding School Patterns
Riding School Patterns

Gregorio Billikopf
A Passion for Dressage

Riding school patterns can help riders perfect the precision of their horses, avoid the rut of going around the arena without venturing to the inside, and help riders have fun while they are at it. The importance of quadrille work should not be underestimated, as it makes riders truly gain control over their horses. Important safety precautions include making sure that horses keep at least one horse length between each other. Even so, horses that are known to kick should not be part of the team effort. One simple rule of thumb that will do much to make the patterns beautiful is to tell riders to never go faster than the slowest horse in those exercises where there is no lead rider for the moment, such as E-11b, E-13c, E-14b, and so on. The lead and hind horses should normally be your strongest riders, who can be imitated by the others. Of course, other riders can benefit from having this opportunity to be the lead rider.

Figure E-1. Down center line, change of hand

Figure E-2. Across the school, change of hand

Figure E-3. Change of hand through the diagonal

Fig. 6-4. Change to the middle

Figure E-5. Change to the middle and from the middle

Figure E-6. Change from the middle

Figure E-7. Half circle and reverse [A] & reverse and half circle [B]

Figure E-8. More half circle and reverse patterns

Figure E-9. Additional half circle and reverse patterns

Divide and merge exercise

Figure E-10a. Down center line

Figure E-10b. Division (Rider # 1 to the right, # 2 to the left, etc)

Fig. 6-10c. Merge back down center line

Change of hand across the school

Figure E-11a. Prepare for left turn

Figure E-11b. Across the school and turn right

Diagonal pattern

Figure E-12a. Division

Figure E-12b. Diagonal cross pattern

Figure E-12c. Diagonal cross pattern (continued)

Figure E-12d. Merge back down center line

Figure E-12e. Down center line

Cross-over pattern

Figure E-13a. Down center line

Figure E-13b. Divide

Figure E-13c. Prepare to cross over

Figure E-13d. Cross over

Fig. 6-13e. Back down center line

Group circle

Figure E-14a. Prepare to circle

Figure E-14b. Circle

Group half circle and reverse

Figure E-15a. Prepare to half-circle and reverse

Figure E-15b. Half circle and reverse

Diagonal extension to the middle

Figure E-16a. Collected trot, prepare to shoot off in middle trot

Figure E-16b. Extended (or middle trot) to the middle, collected trot after

Figure E-17. Shoulder-in

Figure E-18. Shoulder-in down center line with alternate positions

Figure E-19. Renvers

Figure E-20. Travers

Here are just but a few examples of patterns that might be used. There are many variations of these patterns and additional patterns not listed here. There is the group reverse and half circle as well as half circle and half pass to the wall. There is the group pirouette at the walk, the change of hand through the circle, and the circle and shoulder in. Adapt the exercises to your needs and the ability of the riders.


Quadrille work can help riders gain control over their horses. Riders should not go faster than the slowest horse, in order for all to work in a pattern together. The lead and hind horses should normally be your strongest riders, who can be imitated by the others.

© 1999-2010 Gregorio Billikopf

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A Passion for Dressage
Table of Contents

19 May 2010