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How do you practise a dressage test with your horse ?

How do you practise a dressage test with your horse ? How do you avoid losing points in your dressage test ?

When I practise my dressage tests, there are a few things I always do. 

First of all, start by warming-up your horse. Focus on the quality of the gaits and on everything you want to warm-up. And that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t already focus on being accurate and doing your movements at the letter, for your own personal discipline and your horse’s.

For example, start with a small diagonal, from one letter to another. The important thing is to decide where you’re going and that you give your horse accurate aids with the right timing.

You can gradually start introducing corners. At first, you can place cones at a distance from the corner to make it easier. Then you’ll gradually bring them closer. And finally, remember to bend your horse well around the cones. It’s a pretty difficult and interesting exercise. 

Then, you can increase the difficulty by tightening the corners and bending your horse around them more. It will require a big effort. If your horse finds it too hard, come back in walk. Take your time to bend him around your inner leg. And of course, stroke him at the end!

This exercise can sometimes make your horse a little anxious because it’s a bit difficult. Horses are quite stiff animals; their spine is quite difficult to bend. If your horse does it well, then try to do it in canter.

Before entering the arena (when competing), you go around and salute the judges by nodding your head. Don’t waste time by stopping. The most important thing is to keep your horse busy and focused. He must listen to you, so you can check that you’re in control and just focus on technique and make him feel confident. Go around the arena while waiting for the bell to ring. Once the bell rings, you have 45 seconds to enter the arena. So, there’s no need to rush!

To stay straight on the centre line entrance, remember to keep your horse moving forward with the same tension on both reins. The slower your horse goes, the more he will wobble and the more likely you are to drift off the centre line. And therefore, not be straight. To work on straightness, there is no secret. It has to be rehearsed over and over again.

To correct your horse’s straightness in transitions, if your horse leans to the left side with his hindquarters, for example, hold both hands together slightly towards the left. This way, you’ll put his shoulders back in front of his hips. So, your horse will be straight.

Finally, to get high marks, you also have to show that your gaits are smooth. With a good shoulder movement and good back engagement. You have to extend the trot and collect the canter. That’s what the judges want to see! They want to see a calm and supple horse.

When practising your dressage test, it is important to be able to combine extended gaits and a calm walk. Having a calm horse is essential because you have to be able to do everything without it getting to his head.

In order to do well in your dressage test, you must work on your accuracy at home: make your horse go around corners correctly and practise being accurate at the letters. Then, on the day of the competition, you have to familiarise your horse with the environment and work like you do at home, so he won’t be unsettled by anything new.

Do you have any difficulties practising your dressage tests ? What do you think of this email ? Leave me a comment here. See you soon !

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