How to Prepare at Home for a Dressage Show
 By EquestrianLady   •   7th Jan 2010   •   7,535 views   •   3 comments
How to Prepare at Home for a Dressage ShowThe thought of that upcoming show may make you nervous, so try to remain calm and remember - this is supposed to be fun! Here are some tips on preparing both you and your horse in the weeks leading up to a dressage competition.

Don’t over ride the test

If you’re like me before my first dressage competition, you’ll feel tempted to ride the tests over and over again. While this is a good thing to help you remember the order of the movements, it does the same for your horse, which is a bad thing. He quickly learns what’s coming next and will do it too early on show day.

The most common example of this is the ‘free walk,’ when the horse relaxes in walk on a long rein. Watch what happens with many horses in a show when they reach mid-point across the arena. They begin to jog-trot, anticipating the real trot they’ll be asked to do when they reach the far track. One reason is because they’ve practiced that test over and over and over again. This loses a lot of marks!

How to practice problem movements

Go over the test in your head as often as you like, but be careful not to over ride it. If certain movements worry you, ride them reasonably frequently, but not in the same order as they occur in the test.

For example, trot almost always comes after the free walk in a dressage test. So here’s how I practice smooth transitions from free walk to trot without the horse figuring out when the trot comes on show day:

• I cross the arena in free walk then prepare him for trot with a
shortened – ‘medium’ - walk
• But instead of trotting, I free walk him across the arena again
• Only then do I ask for medium walk followed by trot
• Next time, I cross the arena in walk two times instead of once before
asking for trot

This way my horse doesn’t anticipate the trot at the show and I get to practice my ‘iffy’ movement.

Vary your horse’s work

Modify your horse’s workload in the two weeks leading up to a show. You want to avoid being sour on the day, so even if it’s only for a short spell, take him for a trail ride now and again to clear his head and yours. The change of pace and scenery will help release any building tension.

You don’t have to be perfect

We all think we have to ride perfectly at a show, but this simply isn’t true! The important thing is to ride your personal best. You’ll achieve this by staying relaxed, and if there’s a movement in the test that still doesn’t work despite your best efforts, stop worrying about it. Concentrate on improving the movements you are happy about and leave that worrisome part alone. In my experience a ‘bad’ movement often works out on show day when I stop obsessing about it at home.

Go to the competition expecting to have a good time and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well you and your horse perform.

There are many more ways to ensure a successful first outing, but I hope these eight articles have helped you along the path to a rewarding dressage show experience. Good luck!
Horse News More In This Category:  Dressage      Horse News More From This Author:  EquestrianLady
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I really enjoyed reading this I'll be sure to try this out. :)
  36 days ago  •  5,662 views
I agree with you! ill be trying out your suggestion as I have a Dressage test comming up at the end of this month! thanks
  35 days ago  •  5,711 views
I am glad you agree with not over schooling. I love these dressage articles.
  35 days ago  •  5,647 views
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