Unaffiliated dressage for dummies!(19 Posts)
I've been persuaded to take my loan horse out and about to a few unaffiliated dressage classes this year by my delightful yard owner. She's even offered to drive so I can't chicken out! Horse is more than capable but I've not competed in any way, shape or form for well over 10 years and I've never done a competitive dressage test. Only looking at intro level but what do I need to know? What's the correct attire for me and dhorse? I know he's got to be in a snaffle with no gadgets, boots etc but that's about the extent of my knowledge!
Any tips greatfully recieved!
Have a look on the British dressage website, a lot of unaffiliated events are run under BD rules anyway. All dress and tack rules are in their rulebook which can be downloaded. And even if your event is not being run under BD rules this will give you a starting point. Best of luck! Let us know how you get on.
Navy or tweed jacket (NOT black for ladies).
Cream, pale beige breeches (NOT white it looks tacky).
Navy hat or hat silk.
Plain gloves (NOT white as draw too much attention to hands).
Shirt and tie or stock shirt and stock (white stock with navy, coloured with tweed).
Clean tack, white saddlecloth.
Clean horse, plaited.
Just plain and neat
Thanks guys. Just had a browse of the BD handbook which has given me loads of info.
In it, it says brown boots are acceptable but I know most people do wear black. My brown boots are by far my comfiest and smartest boots - am I gonna look like a bit of a tit if I wear them? If not, is tweed the most acceptable jacket to go with brown boots?
As long as you are smart and clean, the judge will be marking your horse and you doing the test, not your clothes. Brown boots with a tweed is absolutely fine. We always plait, even for an Intro. (No bands!!) Just enjoy it!
Yes you can wear brown boots with tweed - not with navy.
You can also plait with bands. I don't as I'm quicker with thread but when starting out bands are often easier, and are absolutely fine
I would have a dress rehearsal at home with your instructor, if you can. Practice the warm up and see what works best, bearing in mind that he might act differently when out and about. Then get your instructor/ helper to give a beep of some sort to signify that you have 45 seconds to get in the arena. Work out which rein to turn in from. You're going to have to do a 1/2 10+ metre circle to head straight up the centre line, and it's generally easier to do it off your or your horse's favourite rein.
As the previous competitor leaves the arena, you can ride round (generally the outside of the arena though with small indoor arenas rules vary a bit). I like to trot round on both reins so the horse has seen whatever it is from both directions. Then when the buzzer/ bell/ car horn sounds you can go in and start your test. Smile, relax, enjoy it, show off your lovely horse and the hard work you've put in at home.
At a small competition there might not be much stewarding. Keep your eye on the judge as you ride round before you start as they might want you just to let them know who you are.
Yes, all the above good advice plus don't forget to breathe! You can pick up lots of marks by simply being accurate and also practice your free walk on a long rein! If you're doing the new Intro C test, really exaggerate the give of the inside rein on each of the 10m circles. DD did it last week and although she did give (I have it on video) the judge didn't see it. So you literally have to move your entire arm forwards from the shoulder! Best of luck, I hope you let us know how you get on!!
A good free walk is a must. And worth double marks in a lot of tests! Just ensure your horse keeps marching on and that they take the rein forward. I judge a lot of dressage and this is one of the most common mistakes to see.
Yes, it has to be a walk that's going somewhere. They want to see them take the rein forward and down, so the rein should still be in a straight line and not saggy as if you're throwing the rein at them. If you can do this well it shows that the training is working. Also keep a rhythm going too. Sorry, I love my dressage and don't find it remotely boring! The movements follow in a progressive order so always use your corners to prepare for the next one. If you go wrong, forget it and concentrate on the next movement. Duckie apart from accuracy, rhythm and tempo, what else is glaringly common and easiest to improve?
Don't talk to your horse. Difficult if you're like me and witter away to them but judges can knock marks off
unless you're quiet and facing away from them
Also, don't fiddle your halt. I used to work for a dressage judge and wrote for her a few times. If it's not quite right first time, fiddling will make it worse 9/10.
IME the free walk will be fine if the rest of your training is fine and the horse has worked correctly. If it isn't and he hasn't, he won't take the rein down. But if he's worked correctly he will just want to stretch down there anyway.
YY to the accuracy. Dressage tests are designed to get the best out of your horse so if you ride accurately the test will do the work for you in terms of getting your horse going nicely.
Oh and first time I got an 8/10 was the first time I managed to smile in a test. I used to have lessons with a showing rider. She used to hiss "tits and teeth" at me as I went into the arena. Well it made me laugh, which made me breath, so it did work!
Agree with Gabilan re nor fiddling with halt - another common fault. Make sure you ride all circles to the size on the sheet and if 2 half 10m are included across the c line then ride straight for a few steps on c line and change your bend before starting the second circle. Take your time and make the most of your corners to prepare for the next movement. If you are doing a novice or above test then watch you don't encourage the horse to rush the medium steps. We would rather see a rhythmic, well balanced working trot than a horse rushed out of its rhythm trying to achieve medium steps. Medium comes in time with correct training.
When you arrive it's worth checking the class is not running late or you may be stuck in the warm up for too long. If the class is running early you can warm up till your given time or go sooner if you want, it's your choice.
If you can see the arena keep an eye on the person before you so that you can be ready as soon as they are done but don't enter the arena until they are finished. If there is room around the arena don't enter the arena until you hear the bell.
While waiting for the bell go round on the rein you will first use in your test, the horse gets a chance to see things from that perspective before you go in and is less likely to spook.
When the bell goes do not panic, you have 45 seconds that is a long time so if you need to circle before entering or do a transition.
You can have a caller to remind you of your test. If a movement does not go as well as you hoped don't dwell on it, keep riding to the best of your ability, plenty a test has been won with a mistake. Ride every movement to the final halt, they all count.
Thank you. Lots to think about. Slightly more scared now!
Just have fun OP. First time out is about getting the lie of the land
I shouldn't over-think the turnout. Most unaffiliated dressage events are pretty relaxed and although some people choose (like me!) to always turn out correctly just because I like to, there are always a lot of people who, technically, are not correct in their and their horse's attire. (No plaits - hair below collar level - coloured saddlecloth - no gloves etc etc). Although it makes me EEEEEK a bit, it doesn't seem to affect their marks.
If you've not done it for a while I would concentrate on the actual test first and foremost and then if you think you will carry on, worry about looking the biz for the next one.
YY to tits and teeth down centre line. Forward usually equals straighter so go for it. Make sure you are spot on the markers and accurate circles sizes etc and forward rhythm and you'll be fab
When you salute the judge at the end, don't forget whip and reins in one hand, acknowledge judge with the other!
As others have said, be as accurate as you can - make a circle a circle and if it says "trot at 'A'", make sure you trot at A
Oh, and breathe and enjoy
Smile at the judge! If it doesn't quite go to plan, just treat it as a schooling exercise. Make sure you leave plenty of time for your warm-up; with other riders warming up, it might take a little longer.
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