Top 10 Tips for Dressage Competitions

Top 10 tips for Dressage Competitions

Things you should do before every competition:

  • When packing your tack remember to add spare gear like an extra whip, 2nd pair of jump boots, extra head collar and lead rope, spare set of stirrups and leathers to avoid panic if something gets lost or broken.
  • Arrive early to get a good spot and give yourself and your horse time to settle into the new venue.
  • Feed your horse at leased 2 hours before your first class to give them time to eat and digest the food.

     On the day of Dressage Competition:

      1. Make sure you, your tack and your horse are clean, presentable and well groomed. You may plait your horse's mane and tail but is not required. Allow plenty of time if you are plaiting. Bonnets can be worn.
      2. Think about how long you need to warm up before your test to give yourself and your horse enough time to deal with any pre-competition nerves. Put together a time table that you can follow throughout the event.
      3. Always bring a printed copy of your dressage test so you can go through it to make sure you know where to go.
      4. Visualise your test and go through all the movements in your mind. Include the actual venue as well. SEE yourself riding in the actual arena you are allocated until the test flows in your visual exercise.
      5. When warming up, remember that relaxation is super important. Make sure you allow time for you and your horse to be able to relax. Remember that you are not allowed to carry a whip or have boots on your horse in the dressage test. You can use them in the warm up but not in the actual test!
      6. In the warm up remember to follow your warm up routine instead of doing what other riders are doing. A lot of riders feel pressure to follow what others around them do instead of focusing on what they have practised at home.
      7. When it’s your turn make sure you ride up to the judge, they usually sit in a car or a judges box, and wait until they acknowledge you. The judges box is at the letter C and the sideline. They will then ask for your name and your horses name and generally wish you good luck.
      8. If you can, ride one lap, on each rein, around the dressage arena so your horse has time to have a really good look at everything.
      9. When the bell goes (or the car horn), don’t panic, you have 60 seconds to enter the arena and start your test.
      10. And always remember to smile throughout your test and to have fun!