How to Compete in Dressage Competition

Competing in a dressage competition is a challenging yet enjoyable experience, especially if you have put in plenty of time beforehand working on the movements of the test and you have a chance of being placed.

To give yourself the best chance of success, choose a test that is slightly below the standard you are riding at home as nerves on the day can often lower the standard of your riding. In addition, allow yourself plenty of time to warm the horse up beforehand-how much time will depend on your horse but make sure it is supple and obedient enough to enter the arena but still has adequate energy to perform the test.


Anxiety may play a large part the first time you compete, so it is good practice to enter for two tests. The first test will give you the opportunity to work through the excitement of the day; for the second test, you should be able to be more focused and make the most of the event. For your first few competitions or if your nerves are likely to get the better of you, it is useful to have a helper to stand at the edge of the arena during your test and call out the movements while you are riding.

Five minutes before your test, you will be called to the ringside, where you can watch the test of the rider preceding you. When they have completed their test and left the arena, walk and trot your horse positively around the outside of the arena and gather your thoughts and concentration until the judge rings the bell for you to start. First impressions are everything, so enter positively, smile and remember to keep breathing steadily, as this will encourage you and your horse to relax.

The judge will be awarding points for a good rhythm and balanced paces from the horse, particularly around corners, a nice forward way of going, submission by the horse to your aids, and your position and the effective use of your aids. The test must be ridden accurately with transitions made exactly at the markers requested.

Riding a dressage test in front of judges can be a daunting experience, so it is useful to exercise some mental control and make the most of the occasion. There may be other competitors riding in arenas on either side of you but try to ignore these and imagine that it is just you putting on a show for the judge. Ride as if you are really showing off and present the best possible picture of you both at your best.

Dressage tests are designed to encourage riders to progress and all the marks and comments written on your score sheet are there to improve your riding technique.

Filed Under: Arts & Entertainment


About the Author: Cody Riffel is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo. She likes to write on variety of topics, whatever interests her. She also likes to share what she learns over the Internet and her day-to-day life.

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