Try learning your test away from your horse to start with, visualize the movements in your head. You can run through your test with your finger or even set up a mini arena in your home and walk/run through it.
Ride your test a couple times in your training and on the day before you go in the arena, take a few minutes to stand and visualize how you’ll ride it.
2. Make a memorable entrance
We’re all told that first impressions count, and that is certainly true for dressage tests.
When riding your first centre line be sure to ride it as straight, accurate and forward as possible to help avoid any wobbling around.
3. Good transitions
Transitions are key for responsiveness, balance and suppleness of your horse. If you read any dressage test you will notice just how many transitions you are being marked on. Practice these and your half halts at much as you can at home.
4. Make use of your corners, to help balance and prepare for the next movement
Try riding as close to the end of the area as you can, especially into your corners.
By using the full arena and your corners you’ll be amazed by how much bigger the arena can feel, and how much more preparation time you’ll have to set you and your horse up for the next movement.
5. Attention to detail, ride everything as accurately as possible
Make sure when learning your test you take the time to pick up on every small detail and ride as accurately as you can.
6. Read the directives, they outline what the judges are scoring you on
These are the comments listed to the right of the test movements. They are key to giving you an understanding what the judges are looking for and what they are marking you on for each movement.
7. Don’t forget the importance of your walk
Often overlooked, the walk one of the most importance gaits in your training. Try to push for an active walk, with purpose and conviction.
8. Smile, Smile, Smile
Don’t underestimate the power of a confident smile. This will help you feel more relaxed and you will look confident in the judge’s eyes!
9. Breathe, re-focus and move on if you make a mistake
If you make a mistake during a test (we have ALL been there), take a deep breath and re-focus your efforts on the next movement. Try not to throw your entire test away on one small mistake, keep calm and finish your test.
10. Enjoy the ride & have fun!
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, at the end of the day, your score is just a number. Make sure you go through your comments, learn from these and practice practice practice. Happy riding!