If you’ve ever had a brain fade and lost your way during a dressage test – you’ll know how disappointing and humiliating it feels. With these tips you’ll learn how to never forget a dressage test again…

How to memorise your dressage test

Get hold of your dressage test(s) as early as possible and read through it until you know it by heart. It works well to go through it once in the morning, once before going to sleep at night or a few times during the day.

Once you’ve got the basics memorised here are a few other ways you can really drum it in.

  • Stand at A in the dressage arena and visualize riding your test start to finish.
  • Mark out an area in your back yard and “ride” through your test on foot in the actual rhythm of the walk, trot and canter. Yes, you’ll look ridiculous but it’s actually a great way of getting you ‘in the zone’
  • Get a dressage test practice app or one of those whiteboard thingos (pictured below) so you have quickly whizz through when you have a few spare minutes.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Ride through the test on your horse multiple times several weeks before the show until you can almost do it in your sleep. Practice it at other venues, not just at home. If your horse is clever and anticipates the movements, don’t ride through the test every day; instead, ride short sections of it at a time. You could also borrow a friend’s horse to get even more practice time.

How to prepare on comp day:

  • Review your test again, using one or more of the tools mentioned.
  • Keep a copy of the test in your pocket in case you need to glance at it one more time.
  • Keep a test reader on call and use her during your test if you are still unsure. Depending on the level you’re riding at – The judge may not penalize you for this. Many riders employ a caller as a safety net, only listening if necessary.
  • Mentally review the pattern. Do this while putting on your coat or as the rider ahead of you enters the space around the show arena. Relax and take some slow, deep breaths.
  • Pat your horse. You are ready!
Never forget your dressage test again!

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