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First Ever Dressage Show - Advice?

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  • First Ever Dressage Show - Advice?

    I am as thrilled as a seven year old with her first pony. I am taking my wonderful little mare to my first ever dressage show in early May. We are just doing the Intro test (okay because I am a hunter/jumper gal and have not a clue what I am doing). My friend who has done 4th level will be on hand to help me, and I will have had a couple of dressage lessons beforehand, but any words of wisdom for me? I am assuming at this very low level, judge is looking for calm, stead, straight and accurate? Anything else I should be aware of?

  • #2
    Have fun, smile and breath!
    ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

    Originally posted by LauraKY
    I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
    HORSING mobile training app


    • #3
      Breathing is good!

      KNOW your tests. Practice them in the hallway of the barn or a space in your living room or out in your yard, where ever you can. It is so much easier to think about what you are going to do next when you actually do know what you are going to do next. You can't really depend on a caller, even if you have a good one. You may do what my sister did last June at one of our larger shows. I clearly said, "C - Track Left." Guess which way she went? She's kill me if she knew I posted that on the Chronicle!

      So know your tests.


      • #4
        "I am assuming at this very low level, judge is looking for calm, stead, straight and accurate? Anything else I should be aware of?"

        At this level - not necessarily. You are forgiven for young horse type infractions in intro, so don't worry about it, view it as a learning experience and just do the best you can in a relaxed manner.
        ... _. ._ .._. .._


        • #5
          Practice your warm-up routine also so you both are relaxed BEFORE you enter the ring.

          Best of luck to you!


          • #6
            I think there have been quite a few threads on this very subject, with lots and lots of good advice. Try searching for them. Good luck, and have fun (at the show).
            Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


            • #7
              Remember there are PLENTY of shows but just one you and one of your pony

              Be kind to eachother even if one is kinda losing it (whoever that may be)...

              You are a team and there are 5000 more shows where that came from Tommorow will bring more opportunity to "proove" something and this is your first show so make it a good one.

              Dont picture the judge naked like some say when on stage... Just picture you naked and the judges face! lol
              ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


              • #8
                Give yourself way more time than you need to get there, get parked, get your numbers, warm up horse etc.

                In your test, smile, breathe, etc. I prefer not to have a reader.
                You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                • #9
                  My suggestion: know your geometry.

                  I just spent 9 hours Saturday scribing training level and intro tests and got to hear the judge nearly go insane over this point. I'll admit, that I've often sacrificed geometry for a soft horse, but now I know better. It's almost better to have a hollowed, fast horse with the right geometry.

                  If your horse is going nice and soft, but you make too small of a circle, you could lose up to two points on the movement ... especially if you're class is big and the judge is tired of seeing EVERYONE not know what a 20m circle is. That same nice and soft horse making a 12m, oblong circle may score a 5 vs. scoring a 7 for just having correct geometry.

                  Don't cut corners (like H/J!)

                  Also, breathe and relax. Maybe I'm assuming too much since I'm not a judge, but I see better marks for riders who just smile and breathe and don't tense, than for the riders fighting with their horses. AND WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T SEESAW (why did I see so many young riders from that H/J barn this weekend seesawing???)

                  And yes to smiling, taking your time, and knowing your test! You'll like showing with dressage folks. Most of them are great (I also come from H/J land)


                  • Original Poster

                    Dang it! Wouldn't you know that I failed geometry in 10th grade. but I will practice, practice, practice and who knows - a miraculous moment could happen!

                    Anyway - thanks so much everyone for your assistance, and I will let you know how it goes.

                    Breathe........I am not good at that in any equestrian sport I attempt!


                    • #11
                      Geometry, plus. Round circles. Put letters up at home. When you do a 20m circle, "kiss" the letters. That means to ride close enough to the letter that you can reach out with your whip or hand and touch it. Make sure the circles are round and not square. A lot of people track too far down the walls and their circles end up square. You only want to spend enough time on the wall to kiss the letter. So, for Intro A, start your arc at A, kiss K, arc, kiss X, arc, kiss F, arc, end at A.

                      CENTERLINE! plus plus. Practice your centerline, x, halt, salute. You can make up a LOT of marks just by having this near perfect.

                      FORWARD. Work on having that horse forward and tracking up.

                      Mad Mare™ Studio
                      Custom Swarovski®, Czech glass and gemstone browbands in Circlet, Diadem and Tiara styles. Matching stock pins, bracelets and belts.


                      • #12
                        Decide for yourself what success in the class will look like beforehand. I have ridden many a test, scored well and gotten nice remarks from the judge only to feel as if the ride was awful (stiff, tense, unresponsive horse). Similarly, I have had rides that felt awesome and totally what I was going for only to have the judge score them low and harshly. Remember, judges are humans too, subject to bad days, bad conditions, etc that can affect their perspective on any given day.

                        Remember, we do this for fun, not to solve the world's problems or win a Nobel prize!!


                        • #13
                          I am probably repeating what others have said - I teach a bunch of kids and low level riders - they all want to JUMP but I 'make' them appreciate dressage and it usually doesnt take too long before they realize they are pretty jazzed about dressage, boring at first, very sophisticated and indepth on closer look. PLUS it is a safe way to show - a 'pattern' to learn before hand, alone in the arena.... no jumping.

                          You CAN have someone call out your test. I will do that for most of my riders especially at the first show because show nerves can get the best of you and you get out there and you are like WHERE AM I GOING!? A reader can take that fear out of the equation. BUT YOU NEED to practice the test and know where you are going in practice. It is difficult to ride a test well if you dont know it. But as I said - you do not get penalized for having a test read to you. So that is just a backup so you dont have to worry about it and you can focus on riding things well.

                          INTRO is the easiest level of course and you should not be expected to have your horse round and into the bridle. It is good to have your horse on the BIT - he needs to be on the aids. You want your horse forward off the leg but CONSISTENT tempo and balanced.

                          Make your transitions FLUID and the horse needs to be responsive and accepting of your aids. STRAIGHT on centerline - when you ride it - sounds like you are not a beginner but rather a beginner dressage rider - so THINK about where your horse's hind quarters are. Are they lined up right behind the shoulders? If your horse's body is straight and you are riding evenly, your halt should be nice and straight and square.

                          DITTO geometry. Show the judge you know what a symmetric circle looks like - cant be an oval. Also, make sure you touch the long sides in your circles. A lot ofpeople place their circles on the short side at A or C and forget to make sure their circle is BIG and touches the long sides. If you dont, then it is not a 20 meter circle, it is a 15 meter circle.

                          Are you doing Intro C? That is a little complicated in that it is not the SMOOTHEST test to ride IMHO - but I have not RIDDEN it - I just teach it and have a lot of riders riding it - the in and out of the canter is something that happens in a snap - and it wants to see prep into and out of the canter which again, you have a second to show that. I have not scribed for a judge yet who has not griped about judging the test and if people step into the canter at the right place, they say 6 (or 6.5 now) and make no comment.

                          So if you ride Test C, just make your transition into andout of the canter prompt and balanced - try to show prep though I am not sure how you really do that with your back to the judge at K turning towards A..... like I said - its a little weird.

                          LONG or FREE walk - STRETCH DOWN and round..... dont throw your reins away. If your horse wants to trot when you pick up the reins - leg yield a tiny step and it holds your horse in the walk. Practice that. A lot of riders dont practice the transitions between free and medium walk.

                          HAVE FUN and 80% of your warmup is rider-yoga IMHO!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mad Mare View Post
                            Geometry, plus. Round circles. Put letters up at home. When you do a 20m circle, "kiss" the letters. That means to ride close enough to the letter that you can reach out with your whip or hand and touch it. Make sure the circles are round and not square. A lot of people track too far down the walls and their circles end up square. You only want to spend enough time on the wall to kiss the letter. So, for Intro A, start your arc at A, kiss K, arc, kiss X, arc, kiss F, arc, end at A.

                            I must beg to differ here. If your 20m circle starts and finishes at A, then you should not be near K or F as they are only 6m in from the end. That would not make for a round circle.

                            I am fairly sure you will be riding in the small ring (20m x 40m). Know that any circle initiating at A or C should cross directly over X. The markers are just a reflection of where the letter lies ON the track. Therefore, if you "kiss" F or K (or H or M), you are only 6m from the end of the ring where you should aim 4m down the track further toward the middle markers and cross over X as you should your other tangent points. When performing any diagonal, head about one horse's length short of the marker since by the time you are fully in the track, your hip will cross over the marker. And don't leave the marker until your hip is AT the marker. Example: K-X-M: free walk long rein. Don't leave the track until your hip is at K and aim a length to the right of M.

                            And as said here before, show a difference between your circles if the occur at the ends of the ring and the corners! Go into the corner as deep as balance will allow you (practice this), begin and end your circle at the marker, then go into the next corner.

                            I am a stickler for correctly ridden tests, but it does disturb me that a judge would mark someone with a less than perfect circle (but going forward, obedient, soft and correct), under a horse with a perfect circle who is hollow, stiff, and against the hand. Kind of defeats the purpose of dressage, especially at the lower levels.

                            And in spite of these technicalities, have fun!


                            • Original Poster

                              Mercy! If I am hollow and stiff I fully expect to get a horrid score -- that be the kiss of death in my world, and I would assume in dressage too!

                              this will be interesting - she does get hollow and still when I act the fool and grab up on the reins.