Top tips for your very first dressage test
If you love riding and want to take the hobby to the next level, participating in a dressage competition is the perfect step. This will test the connection between you and your horse, and there’s few better ways to improve as a rider than to ascend the dressage levels all the way to Grand Prix.
If competing in dressage is something you’re interested in, then read on for our top tips for your very first dressage test.
Decide on a show
If you’re new to the world of dressage, it can be hard to know which level you should be competing at. That’s why it’s important you choose your first ever show wisely.
As a rule of thumb, you should compete at a level lower than the one you’re training at. For example, if you and your horse are comfortable performing an Introductory routine together in training and you’ve moved on to practising Preliminary exercises, sign up for an Introductory class.
While it’s natural to want to push yourself, getting some experience under your belt should be your main aim when it comes to your first ever dressage test. Sticking to what you know will go a long way to building your confidence and giving you a springboard for bigger and better things. So, get started by searching a site like Dressage Anywhere to find an event near you where you can compete at a level you’re comfortable at.
Practice makes perfect
Even the most seasoned riders can get nervous when they enter the dressage area. No matter what your level, there’s only one way to overcome these competition nerves: practice, practice, practice.
So, block off plenty of time in the build-up to your first ever dressage show to get comfortable with your routine. Go through all the movements you’re going to be tested on until you can perform them with total confidence and you’ll go a long way to banishing the competition nerves.
Make sure you’ve got the proper attire
Dressage has a rich heritage that dates back centuries. If you want to attend an official show, you have to stick to a strict dress code. To compete in your first dressage test, you need:
- A riding hat
- A white shirt with a stock or tie
- A riding jacket (if you’re competing at Preliminary level or above)
- White, beige, or cream gloves
- White, beige, or cream breeches or jodhpurs
- Black or brown riding boots
You can pick all these items up from Millbry Hill’s range of equestrian wear, where you’ll receive free UK mainland delivery if your order exceeds £75.
Get your horse kitted out too
Before you can compete, you need to make sure your horse looks the part too. At the lower dressage levels, your horse will need to be in a snaffle bridle and a plain noseband, and you won’t be allowed any training aids. You should also opt for a general-purpose saddle, and your numnah needs to be brown, black, or white.
Your horse needs to be well-groomed before the test as well. You’ll need to plait its mane, and you should clean your horse’s tack just before you enter the dressage area. Follow these steps and your horse is sure to be competition ready, and you’ll have the best chance of impressing the judges.
Follow this advice and you’re sure to look and feel the part during your first ever dressage test. This will give you the best possible chance of success. Good luck!