Best Ways to Memorize Courses - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-31-2010, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Best Ways to Memorize Courses

Just wondering how everyone memorizes their courses? Is it by colour, style, striding....??? Obviously everyone does it however works best for their minds, but just a curious question. Riding hunters, I memorize by going something like outside line, diagonal, outside line diagonal.....

And I am going to sneak another question in here, does anyone experience their mind blanking half way through the course, and although they remember the course, they get a crappy spot or mess up their striding (hunter)?
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-31-2010, 05:40 PM
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I use a combination depending on the show... it'll be something like "swedish oxer, roll back, green 2 stride to the purple jump"

And yes, my brain blanks, especially in jump-offs. I've gone off course numerous times when I'm on the 2nd or 3rd to last jump. My trainer used to yell to me if she thought I was going to the wrong jump, something like "NO MELANIE! BLUE OXER!!!!!!". Of course, that's only at schooling jumper shows.

Mom to 3 bays: Beau, Daisy & Cavalina
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-31-2010, 05:54 PM
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When I did Hunter/Jumper Shows, I would read the paper that the course was printed on, and I would draw my track on my thigh. And then I would look at the course itself and ride it out mentally over and over and over again.

Luckily for Eventing, you get to walk your course umpteen times. I walk my course about 5x+. When I am walking it, I'll look behind me and go over my fences up to the point of where I currently am, and then continue on.

When I walk the course, I walk it as though I am riding it. My turns, my bends, my rollbacks, whether there are water puddles, etc, etc - that by the time it comes to me actually being on my horse and riding the course, it has already been ingrained, that I don't think about it anymore, it just comes naturally.

There are times where I mind blank and forget my riding "plan" but I never forget my fences. Sometimes Nelson isn't wanting to go "according to plan" in temperment or feel or rhythm, so new plans have to pop out quickly to get the job done, or sometimes I'll forget that I wanted to go directly to the fence line before I made my turn, or what have ya. Luckily Nelson's a life safer so he covers up my flubs well.

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post #4 of 12 Old 08-31-2010, 07:28 PM
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I try to make words.
For example, at home, typically we only have two outside lines, two diagonal lines, and a single or log.

So if the course was outside, diagonal, single, outside, diagonal, outside, log I remember ... ODSODOL. And I say it as a word. ["oh-d-so-dole"] Hahah. I don't know. My brain works weird. It can get difficult sometimes at shows since we do jumpers, because a lot of the time it can be one jump in a line or something, so then I base it off of the type of jump and color. Once again, I try to make a word or just memorize the letters.

Also, when at a show, I just stand at the ring for a while and go over the course in my head for a while, picturing myself going over each jump. I've never had a complete mind blank. Knock on wood! Haha
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-31-2010, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Beau-thats what happens to me, except that I havent gone off course yet, I just blank. Still release, but forget everything else like setting up after a jump, maybe miss a lead change, that type of thing!

MIE- What do you consider a riding plan? Just the pace you wanted at certain points during cross country or something else?

Emily--That is an interesting way, but if it works, it works! Not gonna lie I laughed trying to pronounce your word hahaha
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-31-2010, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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Adding to the OP-- For eventers, how do you memorize for 3 different things at the same time? Learn them in order, or one at a time?
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-31-2010, 10:35 PM
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Personally, I am by no means a jumper or cross country person, but what I do is work on memorizing the pattern by saying out loud, and then if I feel I know it well enough I'll draw the pattern in the dirt, after that I may do the pattern myself as if I were the horse and actually in the class at that moment in time.

However, when I was training to be a jumper, I memorized the course by the color of the jumps.

"And somewhere in the northwoods darkness a creature walks upright. And the best advice you may ever get is: Don't go out at night..."
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-31-2010, 10:39 PM
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Riding plan for me is walking my plan of attack, so that when I am actually in the ring doing my round, I know exactly what I am going to do.

So, I walk into the ring, I find out where the 1st jump is and I plan my ride from the moment where I Salute the Judge, to the point where I ask for canter and what lead I am going to ask for, and my approach to that 1st fence.

I walk my path to the 1st fence, and the best line I am going to take, to beable to ride that fence smoothly and accurately. Then after the 1st fence, I walk my path to the 2nd, decide what lead I need to be on, when am I going to ask for the change if need be.

If there are combo's, I walk the strides and try to decipher what my game plan is - whether I am going to take the combo in the given strides, or if it would be better to get more or less in accordance to the next fence after. If there is a tight turn to the following fence after the combo, I would probobly ask Nelson to ride 1 extra stride in the combo so that I can have a collected, under me horse, so that we can make that tight turn to attack the following fence.

See what I mean?


Tempest - that's a great method! I like that!


To your other question Velvet....

Before the show even arrives, you should know your Dressage Test already. I start working months ahead to have my test memorized and ridden, so that come comp day, we have it nailed and down pat.

If you stay at 1 level for the season, it's pretty easy. Tests rarely ever change, and if you have to learn Novice Test A for the 1st event, it is safe to say that you'll ride that same test at every event you compete at, in that level.

If you bump up a level or bump down a level, and have you re-learn a new dressage test for that level you just moved to, I learn by reading it outloud first, then drawing it on my thigh, and then imagine I am riding the test in my front room in a pretend riding arena, while calling out the movements at each letter.

For CC, the day before the HT I am already usually at the facility. I board overnight, that way Nelson can get settled in and I can walk the course as many times as I want with no "day of comp" pressures.

The course is printed out on a map that you get in your packet, and you walk the course over and over and over again. I walk my CC course about 5x+.

By the time comp day comes and I am in the start box, I already know my fences in order, and I already know how I am going to ride each inch of that course from start box to finish line.

For Stadium, you cannot walk the course until specified, which is usually after you've ridden CC. The course doesn't even open until the day of. You don't know the order of the fences. So when you already have your dressage done and your CC done, you can just focus on memorizing your stadium course and how you are going to ride it.

Easy Peasy

Last edited by MIEventer; 08-31-2010 at 10:46 PM.
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-31-2010, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Tempest--that sounds like a great way to learn! I remember the local drill team saying they made the girls do their patterns on foot when there was problems. Using your own breathe makes you learn faster then using your horses! ;)

That makes perfect sense. I didnt realize that it would be the same test over and over all year. Is it that way so that dont have to make up a million different tests through out the year and at the lower levels there are only a certain amount of movements you can do(w-t-c, lead changes, collect and extend)? lol @ easy peasy. How many shows a year do you do MIE? Approx?
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post #10 of 12 Old 09-02-2010, 02:49 AM
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I walk the course once when it's opened and then as soon as I'm on my horse I'll sit there at the side of the arena and go over it again and again, go warm up on the flat for a little while, go back and go over the course again a few times and then go into the warm up ring and then stand by the side of the warm up and go over the course again just before I go in.
It's so much easier to remember where the numbers are rather than trying to remember by colours and strides.
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