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How to Experience a Dressage Show Before Competing
 By EquestrianLady   •   5th Jan 2010   •   3,627 views   •   1 comments
How to Experience a Dressage Show Before CompetingItís normal to feel nervous about riding in your first dressage show, so here are two ways to get you and your horse used to the environment before actually competing.

Attend a show as a spectator

Take the mystery out of dressage competitions by first going to one on foot. If you join a dressage association, become a show volunteer. There are many jobs needing volunteers which donít require prior experience. The organizers will explain what you have to do, and plenty of seasoned members will be around to lend you support as well.

One job is scribing - sitting next to the judge and writing down her comments as she marks each horse and rider combination. This is also an excellent way to get a feel for what judges look for in a dressage test.

Or you can be a Ďrunnerí - the person who takes the scores from the judgeís box to the secretary, so they can be posted for the competitors to read. Another task is standing by the warm-up arena and telling the competitors when they are Ďon deckí i.e. about to ride their test.

Simply showing up at a dressage competition and watching how itís organized will make you feel more confident about riding in one. In addition, observing the classes will help you better assess which test level suits you. Donít be afraid to ask questions: every dressage rider was once in the same position as you!

You and your horse together

If either you or your horse is inexperienced in showing, take your equine partner to a show as a non-competitor. Many professional riders accustom their horses to the busy showground atmosphere without the pressure of actually competing. Itís a wonderful, stress-free way to introduce both of you to the competition environment. First take your horse for a 'look-see' tour around the show grounds before entering the warm-up arena where everyone is getting ready to ride their test.

Most show venues allow you to take a non-competing horse, but check with the secretary ahead of time. Youíll need to produce a valid Coggins and maybe pay a small fee, but itíll be worth it.

This is a particularly good idea if you ride at home and/or take lessons alone: a warm-up arena filled with moving horses can be a big shock to a riderís system and that of an unaccustomed horse. Riding in the warm-up area as a non-competitor will get you used to steering clear of other riders. Doing this will pay dividends when you go to your first Ďliveí show.

You need to know the general rules of riding etiquette, which are: Ďleft shoulder to left shoulder,í meaning you have right of way if youíre riding to the left around the outside track. A walking horse should stay on the Ďsecond track,' an imaginary path inside the outer one. Avoid using the outside track if youíre riding on a circle, to allow other riders room to get past. Halt somewhere convenient for everyone else, usually the middle of the arena.

If you follow these two methods for preparing yourself and your horse, youíll be much more relaxed and confident when you actually compete.


In my next article Iíll be discussing easy ways to prepare your horse at home for your first dressage competition.
Horse News More In This Category:  Dressage      Horse News More From This Author:  EquestrianLady
DiamondAndVegas  
this is good because my mom just sprung a dressage show on me that is this weekend.
  Jan 5, 2010  •  1,903 views
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