3 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Dressage Test, Today!!
As I am here at Regionals and watching some of the horses it makes me realize there are some really easy changes, that you can make today, that will absolutely bring you more points.
Before we get to that, let’s just talk for a minute about relaxation. Breath, Hydrate and trust your preparation. There is a lot of energy in the warm-up that is not yours! The only way to control your energy is to identify with it. Sit quietly, by yourself, where you will not be interrupted. Drink a big glass of water and focus on your breath. Count the breath in, hold, out, pause, in repeat. You can use any count that helps you to be relaxed. Box breathing is when you use the same count for all, but anything that works for you. When your mind gets distracted just bring your focus back to your breath. Try to give yourself ten minutes to do this prior to getting on. Remember you have been preparing to be here. No need to change everything, trust your preparation.
I am not going to get into how to relax your horse. Only to say that running it crazy on the lunge line is a recipe for injury and more stress, not less. I can help you find another way, but we need to meet in person for this. There are also other awesome people that specialize in this. Seek them out.
What can you do that will improve your test and score today?
1. Warm up in a shape that resembles the arena. Most warm-ups are too big and people use the whole thing! You get into the arena after thinking you are amazing in the warm-up and two things happen; you get claustrophobic because the ring is all of a sudden ½ the size of what you were doing in the warm up, and, you have put a lot of extra miles on your horse! Being on the centerline every time you are meant to be will add points! Making your circles the right size…..yes! More points! You can set your own landmarks, ask your trainer to point out the proper size, or even scope out the warm up area and make a plan before you get on. Use one fenced long side so you can manage your straight lines. Create corners in your mind and ride them! Whatever type of corner you need for the level you are riding. This will really set you up for success in the show ring!
2. Use the outside of the arena for training! When you go around the outside of the arena before your test you are not being judged! I see so many people losing the connection with their horses, asking them to be perfect, overreacting if the horse looks at something. You are not being judged! Don’t worry about the judge, half the time they are still working on the last test, they are not even looking. Utilize this time to show your horse in a relaxed way the judges booth, the flowers, the letters etc. Make transitions, check your brakes and gas pedal. Check in on your own physical relaxation, can you feel your toes? When you trust that your aids are working you will not have to ride the parking brake through out the whole test. When you are confident that your forward aids work you will be able to relax and make the aids when you need them and then just ride with the forward motion in between. Pat your horse, check in with your arms and hands.
3. Keep your lower legs close to your horse. Feel the hair through your boot. When you come and go too much on the horses sides the horses get tight and feel like they don’t want to go. Relax the upper leg and let the horse come up into the withers, support with the lower leg to create relaxation. No gripping, just soft cuddling legs. Your horse will appreciate this, and the relaxation will translate into a horse that is more in front of you and relaxed. Now, I understand this is not the easiest thing to do, however, even if you focus on it just a little bit your life will change!
I hope this helps you to have more fun and success in your riding!
Love to Ride!