First dressage intro A test- general and plaiting advice needed!
I'm (hopefully) doing my first dressage test around Christmas and need any kind of advice on dressage and plaiting (never plaited up before)
Also the horse that I will ride is quite lazy so any transitions advice would be helpful too!
Thank you! :-)
Welcome to the Forum!
I'm not great about braiding - I just did mine the best I could, my only advice if you never did it before allocate lots of time for it. My first attempt took me 2 hours (if not more than that). I was running crazy in the end! :shock:
As for test itself my main advice don't panic. Just try to do you best like if you are in lesson. You can carry a whip to back up your leg for walk-to-trot transitions, and remember to still keep a leg on for the downward transition (from trot to walk). Good luck! :D
How exciting for you! I hope you're looking forward to it.
I have to admit to being rather lazy and I never plait my horse. I just trim her mane so it's quite short and very straight. It saves worrying about plaits coming out or looking untidy and it relieves any unnecessary pressure, allowing me to concentrate on more important issues. It's perfectly acceptable to ride unplaited so perhaps you could too?
It took me a long time to stop putting pressure on myself to do well and to stop being tense during tests, but nowadays I go in with a smile on my face and just try to relax and imagine that I'm riding at home in my own arena.
Try to focus on accuracy when approaching / leaving or commencing movements at the letters and if your horse is on the lazy side, try to anticipate it breaking pace before you ask. Try not to 'over-ride' the walk too because that will just push the horse onto it's forehand and when doing free walk on a loose rein, remember to loosen your hips and allow them to move with the movement of the horse.
Most of all ENJOY IT! Don't get yourself stressed out. It's not worth it for the three or four minutes you're going to be in front of the judge and winning isn't the be-all and end-all. It's the taking part that matters.
Edited to say try doing lots and lots and lots of transitions to wake your horse up and get it going forwards more. Work on a 20m circle and alternate between a few strides of walk and a few strides of trot - on both reins. Then do the same working trot - canter - trot, plus lots of walk - halt, serpentines and trot - halt - trot if the horse (and you) are up to it. Work on the basis that when you ask the horse goes, without spending time thinking about it. If it doesn't respond to your leg aid, a firm flick with the whip just behind your leg should do the trick.
Good luck. :-)
Here is a hint on braiding for the dressage ring. I don't sew braids there but use rubber bands.
As for your test? Make yourself relax!! You you mind to play a joke on your body and make every muscle relax and soften. Don't hurry through the test, try to stretch it out and make it last. As you enter the ring, lock eyes with the judge and smile as if you are happy to be there. Remember, the judge is not your enemy. You want to give a happy relaxed impression. It helps to get the judge "on your side".
Have fun, take lots of photos, and let us know how you did!!
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