Dressage is considered one of the most skilled forms of exhibition riding in the equestrian world today. With highly skilled competition comes highly skilled judging. It is obvious then that correct execution on even the littlest things in dressage can make a big difference. Here are seven quick tips that can dramatically improve your score.
- Always assure accuracy when performing circles and loops. If a rider performs sloppy loops, it lets the judges know that they haven’t properly measured 15m and 5m paths when practicing. Poorly timed loops can also throw off the rest of the movements which may spiral out of control, resulting in a poor score.
- Be sure to give time for preparation when making a transition. Allow the horse to process each transition. If the call for the transition is late, then the transition is definitely going to be late. Smooth movements can ultimately rely on responsible timing.
- Put an extra emphasis on circles and loops. An unnatural circle shape can cause the horse to lean in and look off balance. All loops and circles should be a fluid stroke, creating a smooth uniform movement.
- When riding in competition, avoid the medium paced trot. Always be able to present a clear difference between a slow trot and a faster paced trot. Once a horse gets into a medium trot it can also be hard to pull them back into control.
- Fully understand the “give and retake.” Riders have created many variations, so it can be beneficial to learn the official movements and definition as outlined by the FEI.
- Remain calm when making a mistake. This is the top factor that makes riders come off as inexperienced. Always maintain composure and focus on the next movement. One blow movement is better than ten. Horse dressage is just as mental as it is physical, so be in control of your emotions as much as you are in control of your horse.
- It’s essential to avoid overshooting the center line. This, again, makes the horse look unbalanced and stressed. Do not start too close to the marker, and always allow the horse to anticipate the movement.
The most important thing to take away from this is to always allow the horse to anticipate movements. It is your job to prep them for that anticipation. Always start transitions and movements a tad bit early and practice those movements prior to competition.