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  1. #1
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    Dec. 10, 2009
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    Default Tips to memorize tests

    I took many years off from showing. The last test I did was Training level. I am thinking I want to tryout a schooling show with my horse at 3rd level. They run Tests 1+2 on Sat, and 2+3 on Sunday. They don't provide a reader.

    ACK!!!

    How do you keep 3 tests separate in your head?
    I'm even struggling to remember one whole test. Who said you shouldn't practice test riding too much? because it's bad for the horse?
    how else will I know I can do it?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr. 15, 2008
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    I've never been at a show where they provide a reader, it's always bring your own reader. Ask a friend, ask your mom, ask anyone.

    I always practice riding my tests at least once a week. Sometimes we do them backwards. I ride them in my head, while I'm on the treadmill/elliptical, sitting in boring meetings, etc.



  3. #3
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    Oct. 9, 2000
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    California
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    That's pretty ambitious for not having shown in a while. Why not set yourself up for success and just focus on doing Test 2 and using the first day as a warm-up and the second day to see how you improve? A Third level test has more to remember than a Training level test so that's going to be hard enough as it is. Or, do 1 & 2 the first day and 2 again the next day?

    I think memorization comes with practice. Also, the tests have a certain "flow" so instead of memorizing something at each letter, I memorize the flow of the ride (granted, I've never done a Third level test!). Also, in test 1 you track left to start, so that sets you up for one pattern; then test 2 you track right to start, so that sets you up for a different pattern.

    You can test yourself at home by switching the direction you go in the arena. Instead of always starting at A, mentally "flip" the letters of the arena and start at C but pretend it is A - that way you get a different mental picture of the ride and don't always count on seeing a certain tree or something as you approach M or whatever.
    My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


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  4. #4
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    Jan. 10, 2002
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    Area VIII, Region 2, Zone 5.
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    Default

    If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you will see previous threads on this subject where lots of good suggestions have been offered.
    Quote Originally Posted by Linny View Post
    Those martingales were so taut, you could play Ode to Joy on them with a comb



  5. #5

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    I like having a reader because it makes me more relaxed.

    I learn by doing so I will practice each test, on foot. Looks silly but works.
    for more Joy then you can handle
    http://dangerbunny.blogspot.com/



  6. #6
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    Jun. 12, 2007
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    Westchester County, NY
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    I've never done two tests in a day above second level. I agree with the suggestion of showing Test 2 both days and forgetting about tests 1 and 3.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2006
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    8,690

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 17Rider View Post
    I took many years off from showing. The last test I did was Training level. I am thinking I want to tryout a schooling show with my horse at 3rd level. They run Tests 1+2 on Sat, and 2+3 on Sunday. They don't provide a reader.

    ACK!!!

    How do you keep 3 tests separate in your head?
    I'm even struggling to remember one whole test. Who said you shouldn't practice test riding too much? because it's bad for the horse?
    how else will I know I can do it?
    I ride the tests in my head a thousand times.

    There are also patterns across the tests.

    For example, in test 1 you turn left at C, in test 2 you turn right, in test 3 you turn left.

    Test 2 at 3rd is very symmetrical:
    Turn right (it's an even number test), medium diagonal, SI/HP, turn left, extended diagnoal, SI/HP the other way, walk TOH's back and forth, cross diagonal extended walk on the "short letters", canter at F, halpass to 'short letter" and lead change, medium up other longside, turn around and halfpass/LC back again, double handed release circle at c, extended canter up longside whee, come back doing swirly lead changes, trot at C, turn back up centerline at R, halt and salute at I.

    Test 1 is also symmetrical:
    C, turn left (odd nubmered test), SI away, halfpass back, SI away the other way, half pass back, diganoal, WHOA at A, rein back, walk the short diagonal, then turn for the TOH back and forths (these always go in the direction of your turn too, so in this test you turn left onto the line and then your first TOH is to the left, in third 2 you turn right at M and your first TOH is to the right, then they always go the same way either towards or away from the judge), then go find C and canter off down the longside going whee!, around the short side, 10m circle, short diagonal to a lead change, aroudn the end, down the longside going whee!, around the short side, 10m circle, short diagonal to a lead change, I think we trot at C? then you need your other trot diagonal and come back up center line for your halt and salute.

    If you think of it as the larger pattern, it is just a little paragraph.

    I generally try to get the larger pattern whip-quick in my head first, so I sit somewhere with my eyes closed trying to "run" the pattern in 10 seconds or less, and once I can do that I "ride it" in my head with all transitions and their letters in place. Eventually when I can run the tests in my head doing one line on the test sheet per second (which is obviously way faster than it will ride IRL unless your horse is superman), and if I can tell myself "OK, trot tour Three 1!" and instantly know where we are going, then I am ready to ride bits in schooling.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
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    594

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    Umm...granted I haven't done a lot of this, but I actually walk, trot and canter around a rectangle in my living room. I need my body to feel it as I consciously work to memorize the pattern. I also print out a page with a dozen or so arenas on it and practice drawing the test movement by movement.

    Readers make me a little nervous because I have left/right issues!!! (though if I ever make it up the levels, I'll probably need one)



  9. #9
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    Jun. 29, 2008
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    San Diego
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    I memorize a few parts at a time and say them out loud over and over. When it comes time to ride the test I always have a reader, only because as soon as I 'Enter at A' I think I forget the entire test, so a reader just gives me a little extra confidence
    Proudly Owned By Sierra, 2003 APHA Mare
    In Loving Memory of Tally, April 15, 1983 - June 2, 2010


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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar. 6, 2006
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    Canada
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    2 things - draw them, or get a reader. if it's a schooling show, I vote for a reader. Get a good one, or have your reader read this first! http://felixfjord.blogspot.ca/2012/0...sage-test.html

    Yes, that is a bit of shameless self promotion. I'm a GOOD test reader and I like to do it, so often wind up reading for an entire devision when I only meant to read for a friend. I've also had just one rider who's mother wanted to read for her - mom messed it up, and commented that she wished she'd just let me do it afterwards.



  11. #11
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    Nov. 8, 2006
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    Get a small white board and write the letters of the arena on it in permanent marker. Then "ride" your test with dry erase markers over and over again. The point is to get the pattern down to where you aren't really even thinking. In your head, feel the gait and movement you are riding. You'll get to where you can complete the tests in under 20 seconds. This is how you memorize by doing it hundreds of times before you ever even actually do it!

    Next step is "riding" the test on foot in a small area (15ft x 40ft max) with you doing the horses movements with your legs.


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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 30, 2009
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    849

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    Lots of tips. different people learn in different ways. Try lots of experiments to see what methods work for you:
    Make copies of a dressage arena on 8 1/2 X 11 pater. LOTS of copies of the blank arena. Then put pencil on paper and SLOWLY push pencil through whole test while visualizing the gait, transitions, etc...Repeat many, many times until you can do this without referring to a written promt.
    Then, make a dressage arena on your floor and "ride" the test. Do the different gaits with your legs and collect/extend yourself. Visualize where you will half halt, where you prepare for transitions etc...I saw a photo of Sven Rothenburger doing this at a show behind a tent in shadbelly, top hat and boots. He was cantering. Just do it.
    At the show: while braiding recite the test. For extra memory power, interrupt yourself on purpose for a moment, and take up where you left off. This will help with remembering the test after distractions happen (and they will) in the ring. The first time my coach made me do this I wanted to scream, but it worked!

    My very favorite: as I fall asleep, and immediately upon waking, tide the test. Of you don't like letters, just focus on the sequence and flow of the movements and shapes of the figures. ("come down centerline, bend and half halt before turn, go deep and uphill into corner, look for destination letter, change rein at first corner letter, medium, then transition before that other corner letter"

    Two third level tests including warm up and show nerves sounds like too much. Most people do one per day at that level.

    Good luck!



  13. #13
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    Aug. 28, 2007
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    Triangle Area, NC
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    EquiTests 3 for iPhone. It plays a birds eye "video" of each test movement. You can even record your own reading.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


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  14. #14
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    Mar. 20, 2013
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    CT
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    Lots of good tips. I definitely do best trying to remember the pattern, because you do the same thing both directions. Drawing it, on paper or in the air, can help you keep things straight, too. I look like a fool, waving my hand around, when I'm learning or reviewing a test, but it works for me!

    Also, as I'm learning it, I imagine how I would be asking my horse to do such and such movement, and how I'd be preparing for whatever is coming up next. This helps me remember the test when I'm riding, too.

    Of course, I still had a brain fart mid-test last year... "leg yield X to K...approaching K...sh*t now what?...I'll try a canter?...oh good no bell!" But it happens to all of us.



  15. #15
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    May. 4, 2003
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    Canada
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    I hate to confess - but for my lower tests I used to use our living room Persian rug and walk, trot canter the patterns.
    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique



  16. #16
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    Aug. 25, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by suzier444 View Post
    Umm...granted I haven't done a lot of this, but I actually walk, trot and canter around a rectangle in my living room. I need my body to feel it as I consciously work to memorize the pattern. I also print out a page with a dozen or so arenas on it and practice drawing the test movement by movement.

    Readers make me a little nervous because I have left/right issues!!! (though if I ever make it up the levels, I'll probably need one)
    This! sounds silly but it works. You can also "ride on a board" with magic marker.

    I never use a reader because I want to concentrate on the ride, not someone's voice.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  17. #17
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    Oct. 19, 2009
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    Ontario, Canada
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    I had a reader the first year I was doing dressage. She skipped two movements. Fortunately I remembered what I was supposed to be doing, did it, and she resumed reading when I caught up. But the experience makes me wary of relying on a reader!

    I like to find the shape of the test (I think this is like some other poster's "flow"). Working in chunks that are then mirrored on the other rein, I find it easier to remember the chunks than 5 movements. By the time I get to the show I do know them well enough to know where the movements start and end, but I'm still using my chunks to ride.

    I do ride the test pattern often. During the walk cool I will drop my reins and ride the test path without transitions or laterals, just saying to myself at the appropriate place "here we canter", "here we leg yield to X", "halt at C", and so on. Obviously my circles aren't perfectly round, diagonals aren't perfectly straight to the letters, corners get cut a bit, but it helps get the horse listening more to my leg and seat.

    I have walked my tests on the sidewalk while waiting for a city bus.

    In his book "The Competitive Edge" Max Gahwyler said that no matter how many times you practice your test, the horse is going to get it wrong. He advised riding the test and training the horse to wait for your aids. I do ride my tests, completely, regularly, on the horse I'm going to show. Anticipation happens, sure, but I train my horses to wait for the aids. I can say to them "You're right, but not yet, not yet, do now." The key is the "do now" and not "okay now". I'm not just letting them go into the next thing, I am actively telling them to do the next thing. It takes time but I end up with a horse who is fully engaged and ready to do what I ask, but is waiting for the aids. His anticipation becomes an asset.



  18. #18
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    Oct. 9, 2000
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    California
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    Oh yes, for drawing the diagram of the test, I do it in the shower when the shower door is all foggy - I draw the arena, then drag my finger through the test!

    I also break it up into sections and sometimes practice a section at a time when in the arena, so the horse doesn't anticipate. So in the middle of a ride, I'll throw in a couple movements at the correct letter, then go back to my regular schooling.

    I also have Mr. PoPo call out a movement (just sitting around the house, not while I'm riding) and I'll tell him what happens before and after, so I know the test inside and out, right side up and upside down!
    My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran



  19. #19
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    Lots of good advice here. I suggest (because this is what I have done): a) practice the tests in your living room. Write letters on index cards, place them around the "ring" and practice the tests. b) really think about how each movement is designed to set you up for the next movement. For example: how the shoulder-in on the start of the long side is activating the hind leg for the extended trot across the short diagonal, which is giving the "forward energy" for the upcoming half-pass, etc. This really helps you remember the next movement. Finally, c) ask someone at the show if they'll read for you. Often, someone who is reading for someone else is happy to read for others - especially if they aren't showing. Offer to buy them a snack or a beverage. I'm a pretty good reader (good timing, good voice projection) and I've been recruited by strangers at shows, esp. schooling shows. I'm always happy to read for people because I know how much I like a reader myself. Good luck!
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


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  20. #20
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    Oct. 27, 2009
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    I came off of an 8 year break showing at 3rd level a few years ago. I can tell you from experience it's a big challenge. I would highly recommend picking one test and focusing on that. Personally I think 3-3 rides the nicest, but if you want to show both days just go with 3-2 so you can focus on the quality of your ride rather than trying to remember the tests.

    I would suggest actually riding the test(s) on your horse as much as possible. 3rd level isn't TL where you're doing a bunch of 20m circles. It's the level where it starts becoming absolutely critical that you and your horse are on the same page and you need to be able to think about the movements and make decisions about where to push, where to ride conservatively, etc during the test. That is really the best way to memorize the tests IMO because not only are you riding the pattern, you are getting familiar with the feel of the test, how the movements ride, where your horse has greater challenges, etc.
    Last edited by RedmondDressage; Mar. 26, 2013 at 12:50 PM.


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