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tpup 02-21-2011 07:52 AM

Newbie to first schooling show - questions about walk, scoring, etc?
Hi! I am taking my older gelding to his first and my first dressage schooling show. We are doing Intro A & B, maybe C. We are doing the show at an indoor we often school at and he is very quiet, loves going I have all of that on my side :lol:

We've been practicing at our barn's ring. Our biggest problem is he can be a bit stiff to bend (he is an old H/J lesson horse and wonderful on trails too). Dressage is a bit out of his normal realm but he goes through the Intro A test with no trouble. My question is about the walk.

What are the judges looking for? I try to swing my hips/move with his movement at the walk. He loves the free walk - has a naturally low headseat and loves to stretch down.

I am probably being a bit over the top but I really want to do WELL and place well. It's our first show and I know he/we can do it.

Also, I have an old dressage saddle - it's a Wintec Pro synthetic and have to tell you he and I both dislike it. We've been riding in a close contact Stubben for the last 2 years. I guess it is absolutely imperative we use a dressage saddle? If so I'll break it out again. It should still fit him. I think he moves way better in the CC but I guess it would stand out like a sore thumb at a dressage show and it's brown, and he's a white/grey spotted Appy, LOL.

Also, must I wear gloves? I plan on wearing tan breeches, black boots/half chaps (I don't have tall boots but teacher said paddocks and half chaps are fine for schooling shows). I watched a similar show recently and the riders were casual - some just had black shirts or jackets on (it was cold) - all had tan breeches and ALL wore gloves.

Any advice for a first timer?? Thanks!!

maura 02-21-2011 08:04 AM


You sound very eager, so I thought I'd post an answer that will hold you until the real dressage experts show up. :-)

What the judges are looking for at the walk is an active, free swinging walk, with the horse moving well under himself and straight, and accepting the contact happily. At the free walk, all of the above, plus stretching forward and down into light, passive contact. The critical moment is the transition from free walk back to working walk - you want to pick the active contact back up smoothly, with no resistance from the horse, rooting or head tossing, etc.

At a schooling show, and intro tests, I think you'll see other folks in AP or close contact saddles. If he moves better in that saddle, I'd use that saddle. Dressage is more about the horse's movement and obedience than it is about the tack.

Yes, wear gloves. I think tan breeches are fine at this level. While specific items aren't important, overall impression is. So have everything as spotlessly clean, neat and tidy as possible.

Hope that helps, and good luck.

tpup 02-21-2011 08:13 AM

Thanks so much Maura! No head tossing or resistance in this guy at all which is what I love about him, but I'll work on making it as effortless as possible. Interesting about the tack. I will try the dressage saddle but if he is not happy in it we'll use the CC which he goes lovely in.

Yes I am eager. I've owned him 3 years and have been dedicated to weekly private lessons the entire time and my riding has greatly improved - it's about time we do a show. He loves going places and is really unflappable so he would be great to learn on at shows.

crimsonsky 02-24-2011 02:52 PM

it sounds like you're ready to go to me! as was previously stated - it's all about the rider/horse combo not the specific tack. the judges want to see a happy horse and a willing rider which is sounds like you two are.

post pics and let us know how it goes! i'll be excited to hear. :D

tinyliny 02-24-2011 03:16 PM

I think for Intro level, the judges are looking for a good, forward walk that does have some contact. Even in free walk, the horse should not be just "abandoned" to hang his head and shuffle. YOu want to still have a connection to his mouth and the more you can make it eveident that you do have a connection and the he is stepping through your connection (thus there is a tiny bit of upward feel to his back and shoulder), the better score you will get.
Work on getting a really good transition into and out of the free walk. so practice the following his head down from med walk to free, as you round out of the corner and picking him up just befor you touch the rail. Don't cut short your free walk, prolong it as long as possible, and pick him back up into medium walk IN RYTHM with his stepping. Be sure that you have him togehter and waling nicely a few strides before you reach the A or the letter where you transition to a trot.
Having a good freewalk will really help your overall score becaue it has a factor of 2 (doubled!). Work on your transitions above anything else.

Ride in the saddle you and he prefer, but put your stirrups down perhaps one nothch unless itmeans you cannot post well.

Smile and look the judge right in the eye.

Tan breeches are fine. Any color of glove is better than bare hands. You should ALWAYS be riding in gloves when training dressage. Get some nice SSG's (cheap and have good feel).

Have a pardner to dust off your boots when you mount and have clean simple saddle pad.

Let us know how it went, with pics!

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