Tue 17 October 2017 Tue 17 October 2017

When it comes to riding a polished dressage test with, preparation is the key to success.  So I want give you some competition tips to help you have the best experience possible.

Before I get started with the actual tests, I want to just talk in general about riding dressage tests because there’s a lot of things that they all have in common.

The first thing is that you need to know your test. I mean REALLY know it. Even though from Training Level through 4th level, you can have some read your test out loud, it’s still important that you really know your test. This is critical so your test doesn’t look like a bunch of movements strung together.

That way you can use the reader if you occasionally blank out. But for the most part, you won’t even be listening to the reader because you’ll be paying attention to
your horse.

So you want to be able to do the dressage test with on autopilot, so that you can reserve all of your focus for riding your horse. You want to be riding your horse not
concentrating on what comes next in the pattern.

To help you do this, start memorizing your test early on.

I have 3 different ways that I memorize tests. They include:

1. Visualization-I know that it takes approximately 21 days to develop a habit. So I start visualizing my dressage test every day at least 3 weeks before a show. I sit in an easy chair or lie down on my bed, close my eyes, and take 3 really deep breaths.

You want to do diaphragmatic breathing, so as you inhale, feel like your stomach is getting fat. That means you’re taking air way down into the bottom of your lungs. As you exhale, feel yourself sinking into the chair or bed.

Visualizing your dressage test is going to help you do two things. First, it’s going to help you memorize your test. Secondly, when you visualize the perfect ride, you program your subconscious mind to ride correctly. That’s because when you do “perfect practice” in your mind’s eye, your muscles will fire in the correct way.

As you visualize, go through your dressage test stride for stride. Fill in as much detail as you can.

What are you wearing? What does your horse look like? What does the arena look like? What color is your jacket? What color are your gloves?

Fill in as many details as you can AND include your senses. Hear the rhythm of the footfalls. Feel the contact with your horse’s mouth. See your horse’s head and neck out in front of you. Smell the fly spray. Also, add emotion to your mental movies.
Experience yourself feeling calm, relaxed, poised and the harmony of being at one with your horse.