Why it’s a great idea to ride dressage tests

Reposted from DressageNaturally; Karen Rohlf :


Competition test riding can bring up a lot of emotions. Being judged and tested can trigger all kinds of anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be like that.

The reality is that we need ways to measure our results. Many problems riders have at home are a result of unclear goals, lack of a plan, and not having a way to measure their progress. Although my entire Dressage Naturally program is designed to help students be able to self assess and make progress independently (and it works really well), the truth is that I did a lot of competing in my past and it played a big role in making me the rider I am today.

Good News:

There IS a way to practice and perform dressage tests and have it be a positive experience for horse and rider! Competitions can be a place to bond and connect with your horse and improve your focus and emotional fitness, if you set yourself up for success.

Perfecting tests and going to shows is an entirely different skill set and many riders overlook that. If you prepare well, it can be an excellent learning tool and confidence-builder. If you don’t prepare well, at the end of the show day you could be left at least $500 poorer and have less confidence than before. I have seen this happen many times with students. No wonder many people don’t want to compete!

Most problems riders have at dressage shows are a result of unclear goals, unrealistic expectations, poor preparation, or not understanding how to interpret their results. All of those can be managed and improved upon, especially if you avoid the 5 stressful mistakes.

5 Most Common Mistakes: 

  1. Wrong test choice
  2. Unsavvy practicing
  3. No specific objective
  4. Lack of preparation/organization/time management
  5. Not understanding or not reviewing the judge’s sheet

Keep reading at DressageNaturally 

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Amateur rider and webmaster

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