In The Saddle

Prepare for your next Dressage Adventure

By Alison Kenward Dressage

This blog post is a call to action for riders to choose a Dressage competition or challenge to prepare for.

Dressage newbies or established competitors, it’s time to get excited and plan your Dressage adventure. I’d like you to encourage friends and family to share the sport too. Every time you ride, you are presented with a chance to train your horse and Dressage is a sport based on training and developing your horse’s way of going. There are levels of Dressage tests to suit all ages and abilities of horse and rider combinations. At the heart of Dressage is the partnership between horse and rider.

A great test will flow easily with the horse seemingly guided by imperceptible aids, this takes time and practice! Decide what level of test you and your horse will be confident performing and check you are eligible to enter. Read through the test and plan to practice the elements separately during your regular schooling sessions in the build up to your competition.

Learn your test off your horse. Make sure you are familiar with the arena layout and the order of the letter markers so you can map the test pattern in your mind’s eye. Are you taking friends with you to your events as cheerleaders? Are they Dressage newbies? Explain to them what happens at an event so they can follow the sport and pick out the shapes/ figures in your test. If you haven’t competed at that level before or if it’s your first time why not go and watch a competition first to get a feel for the class and how the day runs? Test riding clinics are another great way to have a go at Dressage.

Dressage is in essence a sport about development and gradually helping a horse to build strength, improve balance and suppleness. The rider needs to work on communication with their horse and maintaining a balanced effective posture which enables them to sensitively influence the horse.

There are no shortcuts and it’s important to enjoy the training pathway. Every test you ride at a competition will give you a test sheet with the Judge’s marks and feedback in the comments section and a summary in Collective Marks section. It’s important to remember that this is a snapshot of your horse’s training and performance on the day. There will always be positives and challenges in training and competition. I suggest keeping a journal and writing about the ride / reflecting after each session. This is a handy way to chart your progress and riders will often be surprised at their development when they look back a few weeks / months. Collating video footage and capturing competition memories in photographs is one of my favourite ways to keep track of our progress.

Please share your Dressage plans with us at Equestrian Advisor. What level test are you preparing for? Have you introduced a friend to Dressage? What did they make of the experience? Share on our competition post on the Equestrian Advisor Facebook Page and we will choose a winner from the responses.

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