Calgary Dressage Tips…What to do if a test goes wrong….

Tips for Riders

When considering why your test did not go as it should, be honest and objective about why.

Your coach can be very helpful in this regard.  You need to look to the reason not the result.

This past weekend, I was dissapointed in my first ride, my horse was not with me and seemed to have his own agenda. I could have blamed it on many things, but that would do me little good at improving my performance nest time.

The test starts in the warm-up.  I forgot that.  Rhythm, looseness, contact…that is how I needed to start. I also needed to remember to “be there” for my equine partner, as he needs me to be confident one for the team.  I let him down in that regard.

The judges table at “C”, the noisey door, dogs and people moving about are distractions and excuses to go off task.  Focus and attention to detail in the spooky areas of the ring in the warm up were critical to performing my test well.  Instead of insisting on his attention where I knew we had challenges, I hoped for the best and stayed away from the scariest parts sof the ring.

My warm up may have looked pretty, but it did nothing to engage my horse and give him the confidence he needed to ignore the spooky bits and listen to me as the pilot.  I allowed him to develop his own agenda during the test, which was to focus on everything else, but me.  I effectively set him up to do this in my warm up.

What did I learn.?…Work things through.  Establish the basics of the training scale and build on them through thte warm up.  Keep the horse calm and confident in the scary end by working through suppleness and bend. Ask and allow (but insist).  Ride it through.  The warm up is crucial and you can’t just hope for the best, you have to make it happen.

The warm up is not always schooling, it’s an opportunity to prepare for something else entirely.  You can use elements from your schooling or test exercises for sure, but don’t let you and your partner down by not using the warm up for 100% effectiveness at the show.  A spooky horse will not be “fixed” in the warm-up, but you can use what you know to help set the horse up for the best possible outcome.  You can plan to half-halt or flex to the inside at the spooky corner.

Yikes…I have been riding long enough to know better.  I have to take this one for the team.  Thank goodness there is always a next time and a chance to do the right thing.  I owe it to myself, my horse, coach and sport.

My second ride was better.