How to beat/control dressage test nerves? - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By TBminx
  • 1 Post By tlkng1
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 8 Old 07-17-2013, 01:30 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 227
• Horses: 0
How to beat/control dressage test nerves?

Does anyone have any tips on how to manage nerves when riding a dressage test?

I have a comp in 2 weeks, and I struggle with containing my nerves when I ride a dressage test. I don't have a problem remembering a test, that part is really easy for me, its the being judged part. I find freestyle tests much much easier as I have to concentrate on the music as well as the actual test, but straight dressage tests I get really tense. Which in turn makes my mare tense up, so then I start riding her badly and everything just turns into a mess.

The nerves is something I have suffered with for as long as I can remember, and the only way I have been able to control it in the past is by going to as many training days as possible and just riding tests, but unfortunately there haven't been any training days in the last few months. I am going to a training day this weekend, so that is a start, but any tips to help me control or use my nerves to my advantage would be hugely appreciated!

Thanks in advance!
picup436 is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 8 Old 07-17-2013, 01:44 AM
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 8
• Horses: 0
If like the music then why not have a song you like that relaxes you in your head and hum it as ride the test? you could use this song at home in familiar surroundings not under pressure as warm up and then use it away from home riding similar warm up to relax yu and your horse then in the test??

Also many rec bachs flowers natural remedies for nerves and confidence which you can give a horse too.

I find as daft as it sounds smiling helps although I prob look like a looney with a manic grin frozen on my face haha.

A sports therapist told me to imagine myself riding a lovely test and visualising winning but this didnt work for me as I put pressure on myself to win and was last lol. Another told me to remember there are people watching me thinking I wish I had my own horse/had the nerve to do this/ what a stunning horse etc etc and just think go and have fun and strut your stunning horse.

A big thing for me is thinking I am lucky to be here giving it a go when thought horse was going to have be retired years ago and this is just a fun bonus ribbon or not.
picup436 likes this.
TBminx is offline  
post #3 of 8 Old 07-17-2013, 01:54 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 227
• Horses: 0
Thanks TBminx, I really like the song idea!

I'll have a look into natural remedies for nerves, I'm not concerned about my mare, she's as cool as a cucumber so long as I can keep the nerves under control. She's happiest with an audience!

I've tried imagining the judge sitting in their car in their undies, but all that did was give me a horrible mental picture along with the nerves lol.
picup436 is offline  
post #4 of 8 Old 07-17-2013, 06:28 AM
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1,264
• Horses: 2
I am like you..the test is memorized, horse is ready to go and I am hyperventilating. I now simply go into the ring and imagine I am at home with my friends and coboarders just looking on as we do with each other. My dad, when I was riding hunters as a junior, had a sign made up with just one word in BIG capital letters....BREATHE! Thanks to my riding nerves I can hold my breath for a full 2 mins..was a great skill when I learned to scuba dive :) tank lasted a lot longer.
helena likes this.
tlkng1 is offline  
post #5 of 8 Old 07-17-2013, 07:20 AM
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,471
• Horses: 0
Breathe, breathe, breathe. I try to remember my horse is counting on me to stay calm, so I need to do it her her. I also try to think envision all my good rides at home. Sometimes I'll even whisper to my horse "just like we're at home". Let the crowds, judge and other riders drift away!
Posted via Mobile Device
SlideStop is offline  
post #6 of 8 Old 07-21-2013, 01:29 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 5
• Horses: 0
Rescue remedy works great for nerves. I've used it for shows and senior speeches/projects and it works great! If not that, we keep Bach Aspen around our barn
Givonix is offline  
post #7 of 8 Old 07-21-2013, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 227
• Horses: 0
So I managed to get through my 2 training tests, and I stayed calm through both! Singing under my breath definitely helped.

Now I just need to fix a couple of things before my comp in 2 weeks and I will be happy :)
picup436 is offline  
post #8 of 8 Old 07-22-2013, 10:51 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 688
• Horses: 2
I find when I memorize my tests I "add" steps inbetween movements - e.g. on a 20 meter circle at the 1/4 way point I think - is horse relaxed and stepping nicely under herself? (my mare likes to giraffe, especially when nervous).

Point is to "rider every step" hence during a movement instead of thinking 20 meter circle at "A" and nothing until you are done the circle, think of how you want the horse to feel/go while riding that circle.

Are horses hind legs active? Does horse feel relaxed? Is head at correct height? (My older mare likes to carry her head too low and fall on her forehand, my show mare likes to giraffe and hollow - so different corrections for each mare DURING the test). Don't forget that rider is supposed to fix problems as soon as you feel them - which should be before or at the same time as the judge sees the problems. Better to fix them problem as soon as you feel it otherwise it allows the horse to continue to be incorrect throughout the test.

You'll soon find that as you are concentrating on making the horse correct that you lack the time to get nervous until the test is over.

Dressage is for Trainers!
Valentina is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Dressage test help please! Gwyneth Dressage 4 05-12-2013 10:49 AM
Can't get the right dressage test!! wafflestheunicorn Eventing 4 03-08-2011 07:16 PM
First Dressage Test. ChingazMyBoy Dressage 6 12-21-2009 03:34 AM
Dressage test! HorsesAreForever Horse Shows 1 07-17-2008 09:14 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome