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Help for dressage newbie?

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  • Help for dressage newbie?

    I've never done dressage before except small open shows. Now I'm a rider for a gypsy vanner (lets not breed bash, its a job) and we plan on possibly doing some walk/trot intro tests. I have taken dressage lessons, but I'll be working with the owners trainer for the horse, my own trainer for myself.

    What exactly should the horse be able to do for these tests?

    How do I read the test?

    These are the tests:


    To be loved by a horse, or by any animal, should fill us with awe-
    for we have not deserved it.
    Marion Garretty

  • #2
    The horse should be able to move forward freely with light contact at the walk and trot, both on a straight line and on a 20m circle. The horse needs only to show acceptance of the bit, nothing more.

    What specific questions do you have about the tests?
    Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


    • #3
      I have never shown Intro tests, but I imagine that the goal is the same as all other levels: to present a calm, accurate test that demonstrates that the horse can perform the required movements in a graceful and pleasant manner. In intro tests, I think the goal is to showcase the movements in the walk and trot and transitions between the two gaits.
      As for breeds, I'm showing my homebred quarterhorse and he took home reserve high point in training level at a show over the weekend. Good luck with your "non-traditional" breed!


      • Original Poster

        I'm a little confused on putting the test together in the arena with the markers. It may be more clear if I can get out in an arena with markers and walk the test on ground.

        Lots of work to do with the horse We'd like to focus on one thing right now and I'd like to do dressage as his first dicipline. I'm going to work with him tonight on the ground just to get to know him a little better. Maybe some treats and a good grooming will be in order I'll start riding soon, I believe we have quite some time before we plan on any shows.
        To be loved by a horse, or by any animal, should fill us with awe-
        for we have not deserved it.
        Marion Garretty


        • #5
          Make life easier on yourself.

          Using a sheet of paper, draw a scale dressage arena, then "ride" it with colored pencils for the different gaits.

          That done you can put paper cups on the floor, and "ride" it. You won't drive your horse crazy with the repitition , or worse yet, tempt him to anticipate.

          Practice your turns onto the centerline, and accuracy of the circles, remembering that they are one continuous curve. Transitions are important. there are so few movements in those tests, that every little thing counts.

          Be warned that working with two different trainers can drive you crazy, depending on the trainers.
          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


          • #6
            Originally posted by AmandaandTuff View Post
            I'm a little confused on putting the test together in the arena with the markers. It may be more clear if I can get out in an arena with markers and walk the test on ground.
            I agree with merrygoround -- drawing the arena and practicing the test on paper is a great way to learn the test.

            I would advise against walking the test in a full size arena. For starters, you'll wear yourself out! Another reason is that you won't get an idea of the timing between the movements as they'll seem much farther apart than they really are. I like to "walk" tests in my driveway (or living room), to get a feel of how they will ride. That said, there's not a lot for your horse to anticipate in an Intro test, so chances are that if you practice on the horse but don't drill too much, the horse won't catch on. After all, you're likely doing walk-trot and trot-walk transitions, 20m circles, and going across the diagonal already.

            Practice your halts and saluting so your horse gets accustomed to standing still while you salute. Practice this on the center line and in different places in the arena. Oh, and practice your turn down the center line and trotting straight down that line. Many youngsters have a little trouble going straight without the help of the wall. I've seen a few "drunken sailors" in my time.

            Be sure you know what size arena you'll be riding in. Many shows will put the walk-trot tests in the small (20m X 40m) arena. It will make a big difference in the way you ride the test.
            Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


            • #7
              Regardless of what level of the tests, practice the parts of the tests--not exactly in order--random order. Or a mixed up test is what I do to keep mine from anticipating.

              Also make sure that you are having fun while showing and be happy with whatever you have under your seat on show day since your nerves and expectations may be high and horse will be very aware of it, too, and will react.


              • #8
                Buy a Whinny Widgets test booklet. They break it down by movement and give you a diagram of the arena showing how to get from one letter to the next. That's not always clear when you first start reading the tests.



                • #9
                  I also have a question regarding intro test b, it says halt through medium walk how many steps should i allow my horse to take before asking him to halt, he can halt really well and balanced should i still go through a lenghty walk to halt? thanks!


                  • #10
                    3-4-5 steps.

                    "to present a calm, accurate test that demonstrates that the horse can perform the required movements in a graceful and pleasant manner."

                    Probably not. Not if 'calm' and 'pleasant' are like western pleasure or a hunt seat horse. THe horse should be active, forward and energetic. The term given in the directives is 'relaxed' and refers to loose, supple muscles, not a sleepy horse shuffling along.

                    The test in the link you gave, includes a break down of every single movement, and gives details on specifically what they are looking for. Read the test sheet and let it be your guide. Practice the tests with your instructor.


                    • #11
                      I concur on the practicing on paper plan..

                      the continous curve of the circle takes practice.. think of it as 2 half circles that should each have the same number of steps or do a cross hatch and break itinto quarters... when you think you have it.. go ahead and rake a big 20x20 patch and then come in ride a bit and do your circles there.. makes it easier to see if you have a flat side or a "drunken" line.. also think of your corners as you place to reorganize between movements (like adjusting your reins after the free walk) ..don't forget to smile on your salute and pat your horse when you are finished !
                      "The Desire to Win is worthless without the Desire to Prepare"

                      It's a "KILT". If I wore something underneath, it would be a "SKIRT".


                      • #12
                        Two main items to think about:
                        1.) Forward - marching walk (as if horse wants to get back to the barn yet is NOT running - steady rythmn hind hoof prints going into front hoof prints at working walk, for lengthened hind in front of front hooves).
                        2.) Accurate circles. Most beginners ride more squares than circles - so set up an arena and "mark" the 4 corners of the circle - where you start/end and where you "hit" the rail. Then walk it and look at the pattern in the dirt - is it round or more square/diamond shaped? Imagine bending the horses body around your inside leg (hind end as well as the neck and shoulders) to get the corners of the circle round.

                        Ride an accurate and forward test and you'll do well.
                        Now in Kentucky