Rally Saturday 2nd November 2013
"How to Ride a Dressage Test" by Liz Tollarzo
For this months lecture Liz Tollarzo explained the basic points of how to ride a dressage test to achieve the best score possible. Liz provided riders with tips about how to keep the judge in a good frame of mind, accuracy, how to ride individual movements and how to exit the arena.
How to keep the judge in a good frame of mind: Always smile when riding up the centre line in the first movement. A smile will not only relax the rider but will convince the judge they are watching a happy horse and rider combination. When saluting try not to rush it. This can be tricky if your horse is tense and not willing to stand still but try to make the salute look relaxed all the same. Don't forget to keep smiling for the rest of the centre line and through the rest of the test, make it look like you are having fun!
Accuracy: Movements should be ridden at the marker stated in the test. For example if the test says canter at C the first canter stride should be taken as you go past the letter so once the letter is behind you, you have begun the movement. Make sure you ride marker to marker. For example when a test says trot across the diagonal MXK the movement should start and finish at M and K. Also watch the size of your circles and placement of movements such as serpentines. A circle that is too big or too small can cost a rider marks just for accuracy.
How to ride an individual movement: Depending on which level you are riding in the judge will be looking for different things. Overall, consistency, impulsion and submission is what the judge will be looking for. As you progress through the levels the judge will start looking for acceptance of the bridle and engagement of the hind quarters. Remember each movement is worth its own ten marks so if something goes wrong in one movement don't stress too much, just do the best you can and move onto the next movement and work towards making it better to gain more marks.
Know your coefficient movements: These movements are worth 20 points, twice what another movement is worth. Riders should know which movements are their coefficient movements and strive to ride them the best they can in order to gain a higher mark. A test can be won of coefficient marks.
How to exit the arena: Just because you have finished your test does not mean the judge has finished watching you. After you have smiled your way back up the centre line and saluted the judge will be filling out your collective marks, so leave a lasting impression. If you walk your horse out the arena in a marching long rein walk the judge might take one last look at you and be blown away by your horses walk. This may payoff when the judge is giving you a score for the horse's paces in the collective marks.
These were some of Liz's biggest tips for riding a dressage test. But the most important thing to remember when riding a test is to have fun!