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Lowering Dressage Scores

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  • Lowering Dressage Scores

    I've heard that BNT's "don't leave any points on the table" when they ride their tests. What strategies do you employ to get the lowest score you can at a competition? What do you concentrate on at home? How do you warm up? And for those of you who have
    gotten the lowest score in your division, did you know it was a great ride, or where you surprised by your score?

  • #2
    I always make sure my horse's free walk is good since that is worth 2x the points! I also keep my horse as forward and balanced as possible in warm up. If he is heavy, then we do exercises to get rid of that. There isn't just 1 strategy but I can tell you I work on forward, suppleness, transitions, balance, and of course bend.

    I've gotten the lowest score in my division and still felt like there was a lot to improve on. It also depends on what the judge thinks of your ride too.

    Also, I have been scribing this summer and found out that wide hands is a no no to most judges. Apparently sitting the trot can also be a bad thing depending on the judge so I avoid it. If your transitions aren't good, then you are setting up the entire movement to be down to a 6-7 without even seeing the actual gait.


    • #3
      In the (para-phrased) words of Carl Hester - every horse can trot straight down the centre line and halt square. Thats free marks, or marks for the taking, or something along those lines LOL


      • #4
        Use your corners, don't fudge your geometry, use your corners, never let the horse go more than one stride in the wrong balance or bend, use your corners, and look up and smile.

        Oh, and use your corners.
        Phoenix Farm ~ Breeding-Training-Sales
        Eventing, Dressage, Young Horses
        Check out my new blog: http://califcountrymom.blogspot.com


        • #5
          Accuracy- if you are not accurate, then you are definitely leaving unnecessary points on the table
          you dont even need to be a better rider or have a more educated horse to pick up these points
          There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)


          • #6
            I find that a nicely moving forward horse always gets me nice scores. I really ride for accurate figures and my transitions!!! My free walk is our weakness right now so I push a bit more for the stretch and a active walk!!!
            No Worries!


            • #7
              Know your test. Know what the 2x coefficient movements are, and know where you can take a lower score if you have to to regain the suppleness and balance. Ride a precise test-- there's no reason to lose points because you overshot the centerline, for instance.

              And ride the snot out of the corners.


              • #8
                I add "Fernhill" to all my horses names

                ..just kidding, don't get salty!!


                • #9
                  I noticed there was a Fleeceworks Fernhill competing somewhere... that horse doesn't have a real name!

                  You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Blugal View Post
                    I noticed there was a Fleeceworks Fernhill competing somewhere... that horse doesn't have a real name!
                    Bahaha! Poor guy!

                    I try to improve dressage scores by working on the following

                    1. Obedience
                    2. Accuracy
                    3. Energy!

                    It is amazing how an obedient and accurate test counts so much. Add the zing to that and you win.

                    This is all hypothetical/ theoretical, of course. But when I've won the dressage, obedience and accuracy are there... And energy and zing can happen.

                    Correctness, etc etc is assumed....


                    • #11
                      Know the coefficients, but don't SWEAT them! Riders seem to fudge them by concentrating too hard on certain movements.

                      "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester


                      • #12
                        Ride forward in balance! I can't tell you how many times I see "more forward" on friends' tests, even if the horse is obedient and the movements are accurate.

                        Practice the parts of your test that don't seem to go well at the event so you know what to expect and how your horse reacts to them. Work on squaring up your halts at home so your horse is never allowed to not be square.

                        Winning the dressage can be done, even on not-so-extravagant movers, the key is focusing on what the test is asking and making sure your horse is forward, sharp to your aids, and you ride the figures as accurately as possible.
                        No Trouble
                        2/2/05 - 7/29/13
                        Rest In Peace my quirky brave boy, I will love you forever.


                        • #13
                          Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. Even if your horse isn't the best mover, we are all capable of riding round circles (at the letters they should be performed at), performing transitions on time and keeping the horse straight on centerline.

                          After that, energy/forward moving horse. Nothing worse than watching an otherwise accurate test c.r.a.w.l. along in a western jog/lope.

                          Then suppleness/obedience and like someone said above, add a little brilliance to that and you'll be winning in no time!


                          • #14
                            Use your horses best gait and really show it off. Go for the marks where you know there is some real talent.

                            Accuracy used to get you big points, I know in Ontario they hardly care about that anymore although I really wish they did! I see some awful geometry, horses not going to letters, cutting corners and they get great scores...
                            Boss Mare Eventing Blog


                            • #15
                              I would have to agree with everyone except for Jealoushe for this part of the world. I try to be as accurate as possible and it has paid off a number of times. If there's something I hate doing and my horse is not good at it, do it 1000 times, until it's perfect. No kidding it becomes muscle memory.
                              RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

                              "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."


                              • #16
                                Obviously, having a willing, obedient horse that moves nicely helps a lot.

                                But, yes, accuracy is a HUGE part of keeping your marks up. I was recently SLAUGHTERED for being a little inaccurate (really, I thought I was rather harshly dinged for a minor infraction). He killed me both in the move AND in my rider collective marks, so it was costly. So, know your test, know EXACTLY where your transitions happen and do them there. Know how big your circles are meant to be and where that puts you in the ring. Etc, etc, etc.

                                Another thing that I've noticed a lot, both in my tests and others, and just from chatting with judges, is that you will get rewarded (sometimes better than others) for having a soft, relaxed topline and neck (this seems like a "duh" comment, but you'd be amazed how many people ride their horses' in false, stiff frames). Some judges, especially, are sticklers for having a soft outline. Of course, this makes sense to me because a horse usually can't moved in a relaxed way if his topline is tight (but sometimes those really flamboyant movers can hide a tight topline with big, fancy, flailing steps). So, work toward your horse always being SOFT in his back and neck, both at home and in the ring. Right now, I actually prefer to relinquish a few points here and there by being relaxed and quiet over being brilliant and fancy. My horse can't give me both on a consistent basis, so instead of pushing for brilliant and getting tense, I ask for relaxed.

                                Sit up, chin up, turn you and your horse out neatly and conservatively and groom that horse so he shines, and RIDE him like he is the coolest horse ever. A little showmanship can go a long way.


                                • #17
                                  Also, if your instructor has not gone over all these things with you. . . find a new instructor. I have an instructor that drills me on everything, but especially the things that I'm not good at and we talk about all the little nuances that can really help. A great instructor is your best asset, seriously.
                                  RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

                                  "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."


                                  • #18
                                    Just a note on schooling the hard moves- be careful not to OVER school some things. My horse struggles a bit in the right lead counter canter and likes to break, especially in the B test, where we counter canter half the arena and come back to trot at E/B. At home, I almost NEVER school a downward from the right lead counter canter, especially after doing that particular loop. I will often ride back to the true lead and do a downward then. Or do some odd little pattern, maybe ride in and out of the counter lead a few times, THEN ask for a downward. Keep him guessing. So, sometimes, when schooling the tough things at home it isn't about schooling them till they're perfect, it's about schooling them smartly.


                                    • #19
                                      Ride your test after me . . .


                                      • #20
                                        I also plan out my test (a carryover from planning out everything I do in a hazard) . Down the center line three half halts and halt. Halfhalt into corner, touch brake when nose reaches B to aid in turn etc. Ok, I know you guys don't need to touch the brakes or halt at X the first time around, but I find it gives me clarity to think through at every step, at every movement what I plan on doing. I know my partner very well at this point and I know where he will usually need help.