Riding Dressage Tests:
Some Hints and Tips

Many riders find memorising dressage tests difficult and sometimes even impossible.   It may comfort you to know that even the most experienced competitors go "off course" at times, usually after a disobedience on the horse's part, or a distraction outside of the competition arena.

Memorising Tests

The following tips for memorising tests come from several sources, including Jennie Loriston-Clarke, Hilda Gurney, and Jane Savoie.   Each have vast experience in the dressage competition arena.

Don't Throw Away Valuable Points

Judges look for the basic way of going of the horse; quality of the paces.   However, beyond that, there are a lot of points that can be gained by intelligent riding.

Above All Else

Expect your dressage test, away from home, with the pressures of competition, and under the watchful eye of a judge, to be only partly as good as what you would get at home when no one is watching!

Knowing this, many competitors compete one level lower than what they are actually working at home.   So, don't be surprised if at a novice level competition you see some horses warming up doing counter-canter and simple changes.

Whenever possible, get used to riding in front of an audience.   It makes competition that much easier and less stressful!   One less thing to tense up about... and most likely, you'll get higher marks since you'll be able to better focus on your test and not on who's watching you!

If something's not ready by competition day (a movement or a transition), don't sweat it.   Stressing yourself and your horse! by trying to train the solution on showday backfires nearly everytime.   Do what you can and school the missing bits when you get home.   Keep competition day as stress-free as possible for both yourself and your partner.   Aim to make competing enjoyable.

Finally, don't waste too much useful energy getting overly nervous.   Remember, it's just a dressage test, not an Olympic Trials competition.   Keep things in prospective...   World Peace is not riding on your score.

I hope this has been helpful to you.   Enjoy Your Next Competition!