14 Tips to Remember for Your Dressage Test

Tips & Tricks of the dressage arena

Remember the first time you competed? Or maybe you are nervously awaiting your first competition...

Here’s a few handy tips for your first day (and second, third, so on):

  1. The number 1 rule is to stay on the horse and stay in the arena. Everything else is a bonus.

  2. Presenting in clean boots, jacket and tack is not mandatory but shows you respect the sport. Make the effort.

  3. There is etiquette to follow in the warm up arena. Try to follow it.

  4. It is highly likely you will be competing against people with more practice or skills then you. This doesn’t make you a looser – the fact that you showed up at all makes you a winner. Everyone has to start somewhere and that start is never at perfect.

  5. If this is your horse’s first time, likely he will be nervous too. Rule number 2 is to teach your horse to be curious so he will be less flighty.

  6. Breath.

  7. Remember which way to turn at C once you enter the arena. It makes all the difference.

  8. There is maths to learn in the calculation of the accuracy of the movements. Sorry, but true.

  9. There are also letters to learn, and they aren’t in alphabetical order.

  10. During your test, there are areas where the judges can’t mark you on the form. Use those spaces to ‘tune up’ your ride.

  11. Don’t forget to salute at the end of the test, and make it obvious.

  12. Your test score will depend on a combination of accuracy and the level of training you are at with your horse.

  13. Remember, dressage is founded on the art of training your horse. Prep and Prelim are the foundation of training that set you up for success. Therefore, the only thing that score should matter for is where you can improve your training, not how you can get a ribbon.

  14. And don’t forget to smile. You are enjoying an amazing sport partnered with your best friend. Not many other people get to do that!


 Interested in fully applying the dressage training scale to improve your riding? Foundations of Equine Development coming soon - register your interest here

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