Dressage Tests Gone Wrong? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 11-19-2019, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Dressage Tests Gone Wrong?

This past weekend I went to my first dressage show ever on my 3 year old w/ 100 rides.

I was so embarrassed to walk out with a 53.5% and the highest score was 58.75. My highest score would have been an even 6% except I forgot the pattern and got 2 points knocked off. I did 5 tests total. I forgot the pattern on 3 tests even though I tried to remember, I should have had a caller I guess. I was so nervous I was borderline having an anxiety attack.

I also didn't realize that you were supposed to go deep into corners, I pretty much looped around each and every one of them (paying more attention to the letters themselves) and almost every single circle was an egg, not O.

So yeah, I was/am embarrassed. I just.. didn't know.. I wanted to try something new. I have never had a dressage lesson. I thought the transitions at the letters were the only thing to really watch. Ugh.

Anyone have any dressage tests go wrong they can share to encourage me it does get better? Lol. I will say I learned a LOT. I shouldn't have tried it without at least getting 4-5 lessons first, but I watched several dressage videos before actually doing my test.

On a (barely) positive note, we did get a 5th out of 6 on one class... so at least we got a pretty ribbon. My horse got good marks on gait and impulsion (7) and a 6 on submission, which for a 3 year old I thought wasn't too horrendous. The worst she did behavior wise was raise her head and whinny during the first test.

Always stay humble and kind
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post #2 of 22 Old 11-19-2019, 03:42 PM
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Well, I've never shown so no personal experience, but this is my favorite social media "dressage fail" moment



When I was riding in a dressage lesson a couple of years ago my horse got trotting along so nicely across the diagonal she just kept going when we approached the corner and sprung right over the arena border like it was a cavalleti. My instructor laughed and joked that we were disqualified from the rest of our lesson.

In all seriousness though, sounds like you learned some helpful lessons so who cares about the scores, right?
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post #3 of 22 Old 11-19-2019, 03:55 PM
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@horseylover1_1 - You did better than me.

I've taken dressage lessons. I've been riding for more than forty years. Many of those professionally in one way or another.

I've never tried a dressage test.

I say good for you for putting yourself and your horse out there. You'll probably improve as you show more and learn more.
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post #4 of 22 Old 11-19-2019, 04:20 PM
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When I was still riding my little pony we entered a dressage test and he decided he wasn't having it. Got into the circles and he fell out...and kept falling out...until he jumped out of the arena markers.

On the plus side, that was the highest I'd jumped on him.

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post #5 of 22 Old 11-19-2019, 05:23 PM
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I think you did rather well for your first tests with no formal lessons. Now you have a couple of things to work on for the next one-- deeper corners and round circles. Then you'll find something else to work on. It's a process. Good for you for trying, and it will get better. I'm proud of you!
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post #6 of 22 Old 11-19-2019, 05:28 PM
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My first dressage test was on a 12.2 roan pony Molly, belonging to the Riding School.

Back then dressage was a foreign subject! This was for a Pony Club competition and contained counter canter, turns on the forehand and haunches.

Now Molly was a brilliant pony and whatnshe didn't know about teaching kids to ride, wasn't worth writing about. Her favourite pace apwas a jog trot and although you never had to use it, carrying a whips was necessary.

So, I learned the test, I knew it backwards forwards and inside out. We practised the tests in the field with the instructor insisting wemrode right to the markers.

Big day dawned. My turn came and before entering the arena I dropped my whip (they weren't allowed) we jogged up the centre line and halted at x, I bowed and jogged on. I had no sooner turned left at the top when the judge started honking the car horn. I knew I hadn't gone wrong so I continued.

After about five movements she gave up hooting and I completed the whole test, including the walk, at a jog trot.

I halted at the end and bowed. The judge got out the car and walked to me, "I'm terribly sorry my dear, but you have gone wrong!" She spoke in a kindly voice.
"I haven't!" I replied as I burst into tears.

She went on to explain to me that the poles, two at right angles in each corner and three down each side, were the arena, I had ridden my test to the markers as instructed but these were set about three feet back from the poles!

So, my first dressage test was done outside the arena!


The Pony Club had simplified the tests by the time my sister was competing. Her first test was on a striking black pony, Cheval. Thismwasmanother school pony whomalways carried herself well and had lovely paces and looked collected.

My sister was last to go. The judge had been lenient with the youngsters. Sis went in and rode a lovely test. She won her section and when we got her sheet back it was worth keeping. Possible score was 120 (before percentages were used) and she had scored 123!

Her test was so much better than the others she was awarded all 10s and for the horse score 11 and rider 12.

Sis was always a better rider than me. Sickening!
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post #7 of 22 Old 11-19-2019, 05:35 PM
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First of all, if this is a local schooling show, just for fun, the judges vary hugely from show to show, week to week. It's impossible to get any kind of accurate comparison of your score to anyone else, or any other day. Not enough consistency, and often the judges don't have much real training in how to judge, so the score in percentages doesn't really matter.



If you had fun and learned something, you got your money's worth!


In future, it's best not to do more than two different tests in any given show. Too hard to memorize and keep in your head more than two.


Will you now take dressage lessons? is your interest piqued?
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post #8 of 22 Old 11-19-2019, 05:36 PM
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Try not to be too hard on yourself! First dressage show with a relatively still baby horse and you made it through without falling off or being disqualified - I'd call that a success! The more you show the easier it will become, and yes maybe having a caller the first few times will help you calm down. If you can afford it and/or are interested you could look into a couple lessons before the next show, just so you could get a few tips from a dressage instructor. There is a lot more to it than just making changes at the markers, but for someone with no experience in dressage it sounds like you did awesome and should be proud!

And yes, I believe everyone has an embarrassing show moment! Here's mine - at our last show (2 years ago, we don't do it often) during our second test Nav decided to take off bucking at both of our canter transitions. So we ended up with a 3 and a 4 on those... It was a small schooling show and he was also the one horse of the day who bucked in any test. But you have to focus on all of the positives instead of the few "fails" :)



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post #9 of 22 Old 11-19-2019, 06:17 PM
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I punched a pony in the neck during a dressage test.

It's not as horrible as it sounds, but it WAS absolutely ridiculous. My own horse, whom I was supposed to be riding for Pony Club camp that week, had come up lame. My instructor VERY, very kindly loaned me one of her lesson ponies to take instead. Well, this pony was 50% Welsh, 50% QH, 100% oversized Thelwell. We weren't allowed to carry crops in the dressage test at my level, so I had no recourse when she blew off my inside aids and cut one of the corners on me. Without really thinking, I drew my inside hand back and popped her one in the side of the neck. It wasn't a hard punch -- even if had been "hard," I was around 12, so it wouldn't have done much, especially with how much padding she had on her crest. But it DID surprise her, and she went back out where I wanted her. It did NOT go unnoticed, but it did get a laugh. The crazy thing? I still placed third.
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post #10 of 22 Old 11-19-2019, 07:39 PM
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Actually for a first time and no lessons not too bad, I think you did well.

I remember when I was riding and training a lovely young horse and the owner wanted me to show her and she mentioned dressage, something new for me, I read the patterns over and said we can do it, it looks a lot like a reining pattern so no problem. Boy I didn't know what I didn't know.

The one thing that helped me was drawing out the ring with the letters and accurately drawing in the circle, corners and serpentines and other movements so I could see them on paper and this helped be more accurate. Also I would put markers on the center line so I could do an accurate circle at B or E ( place the markers on the center line 10M either side of X)and avoid the square or egg shapes. Also know how to do a 20M circle at A or C and draw it out so you can see how to ride the corners as you don't go as deep with 20 M circles as you would just riding the corner as you would ride deeper for that. When riding a 20 M circle ride each quarter at a time always looking ahead to the next quarter that also helps.
If you ride your tests accurately you can pick up more points.

Also when entering at A try to look right ahead at the Judge as this could help you ride a straight line to X. Also a pleasant, confident demeanor helps you look like you know what you are doing, even if you don't feel like that at the time.

You rode a lot of patterns that day so no wonder you had trouble remembering them all and it's a lot different when you are in the show ring with all the extra tension so you did well anyway and if you can get a caller by all means do so even if you know the patterns well.

Good luck to you on your next show, show 'em how it's done!
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