So how can ABSOLUTELY ANYONE improve their dressage score without getting a new horse?

Well, there are a few simple things that every horse/rider can do to improve their score.  Of course, you are turned out impeccably and your horse looks like a superstar.

Hopefully some of these tips will get you 2-5% more on your next test.

Your entry centre line.  Every horse can get an 8 on the entry and exit centre lines.

Make it straight, look at the judge, halt straight (square is secondary, it if ain’t straight then square won’t matter), salute and trot promptly off – still straight of course.   Ride thru a nice corner at the end of the line.  Straight is the key here, did you pick that up?

  • Make it Clean – Accuracy of the movements and figures.

Not only getting your transitions at the markers, but also making your circles round and the right size.  A 15m circle isn’t a 13m oblong oval, kinda round-ish.  Ride straight diagonal lines from letter to letter with good corners at the beginning and end. Oh, and know your test. Going off course can frazzle you and it is a waste of marks.

  • Rhythm and Harmony.

Ok, we all know what rhythm is – it is #1 on the training scale.  But what I mean here is consistency throughout your test.  The same trot, the same canter and the same walk.  Go for smooth, even if it feels a bit lazy.  Let it be what it is at the start, rather than kicking and shoving and making it look messy.  It looks like you are over riding.  If too fast is the problem, try to ride it boring and let the corners and circles help you slow down rather than careening around.  I know this sounds easier than it is sometimes, but it will happen.

  • Make it look like you are having a good time and your horse is nice to ride.

Not like a deer in headlights and not an over stressed rider in panic mode.  This takes practice so schooling shows are a good way to get better at this.  Get in the show ring and do your test over and over till it IS easy.  Part of the experience is doing the warm-up and the test at your “time”, and not whenever you are ready at home in practice.  Some people just have a knack of being able to show off in the ring, and some people need to learn how to do it and look confident even though they are not.

  • Practice makes Perfect, so make your Practice Perfect.

We, the riders, need a lot more practice than our horses.  The horses will pick up the pattern quickly and start anticipating.  Instead of over doing it on horseback, start visualizing the perfect test.   Not only will it help you memorize your test, but will get you in the grove of doing the test as fantastically as you can.  It is also a super way to get in the “zone” just before you get on for your warm-up.

  • Go out and DO IT!!

Get on, get out there and get riding.  Go for a clean, smooth test that will get you 6s and 7s.  In the end your mark will be in the 60% range, even with a few mistakes (4s and 5s).  Once you are sure you can do that, start to add in more risk.  Only ride with more risk if you are quite certain it will work.  Going for an 8 and getting a 4 kills your mark. Staying steady and clean for 6s gets you farther ahead in the numbers.

Aiming for  a steady 6s and 7s ride….   Alison