Cassandra Jessop has a list of accolades that would pique any equestrian’s interest; Grand Prix rider, Equine Canada Gold Medalist, and is an experienced dressage coach based near Toronto, Ontario. Cassandra started riding when she was seven and immediately fell in love with dressage. She competed at NAJYRC in 2013 at FEI Juniors and in 2014 at Young Riders, receiving top placings with her mare Mariska, a 15h Canadian sport horse. Cassandra and Mariska now compete at the Grand Prix level as well as having a few other horses in her string at various levels. Visit Jessop Dressage at

Cassandra’s Tips

First Things First

It’s important to find a good team to work with at competitions, whether it is a groom, a coach or just a helping hand and someone to talk out your worries with.

It’s Just Like Being At Home

Take a breath. Before you get on to ride your test, be ready a little early so you can calm your mind before it’s your time. Ride one movement at a time. Take a step back and remember why you compete. Enjoy it. Just like home. Just like home. Just like home. I also ride through the test in my mind, picturing myself in the ring doing the test. Zone into your ride and ignore everything that is happening outside of the ring, don’t pay attention to judges or spectators. Just focus on you and your horse. I remember that I do this because I enjoy it. You have to take it seriously, but stressing out does not help you or your horse do you test better.

Repetition is Key

For dressage tests it is all about repetition. Ride the test at home in its entirety, if your horse anticipates the movements do the entire test in one gait (walk/trot/canter). At home, walk your test in your living room, your family might think it’s a little strange, but aren’t all horse people? Plus, it’s great exercise. You can also draw a ring with the letters on paper, then draw the test in the ring visualizing you riding it. The final and probably the easiest way to remember is say it out loud, to anyone who will listen.

Zone In, Not Out

Zone into your current ride, don’t think about what has happened or what could happen. Focus on riding the horse in the moment and if it gets too stressful pretend you are at home running through the test. Ignore outside influences, just focus on you and your horse.

Ride the movements individually. Take advantage of the time in between movements. USE YOUR CORNERS. If you make a mistake don’t worry about it. It’s in the past there is nothing you can do to fix it now. It’s your job to focus and ride the next movement. After you are done riding the test then you can figure out why the mistake happened to avoid making the same mistake next test.

Try not to view showing differently from schooling. At schooling and bronze shows, I focus more on what to improve, or if I am riding a young horse I focus on having a good experience & not worrying about the score. Other than that, try keep calm and don’t think of the importance of the show. Just go out and do your best. The tests are the same whether they are at bronze or platinum (CDI) competitions. You still enter at A and halt and salute at X.