Sara Squires offers her top ten tips on how to earn more marks in the dressage arena, courtesy of her sponsor Black Country Saddles.
- Firstly, start every competition you do with a routine that works for you and your horse. This way everyone will stay more relaxed and will be confident about what is expected of them.
- Before sitting on your horse visualise how you want him or her to go. Once you have a clear image get on your horse and warm it up positively. You should get better results by doing this as you are warming your horse up with a strategy for both you and your horse.
- Re read your test several times to make sure you are super confidence that you know when you are performing each movement and at what marker, especially if you are performing different tests in a day. It is better to learn a test than have someone call it for you because you can concentrate purely on how the horse is going.
- Make sure you and your horse look smart in the arena. Turnout is essential in making a good first impression. To make sure I look well groomed in the arena I check my jacket is always brushed, boots are sparkling clean and my riding clothes are well fitted. Of course my Black Country Dressage Saddle is also key which completes the picture.
- Know your arena. Spend time examining the arena and see if there is anything there that your horse might take a dislike too. If there are any banners or flowers that might unsettle your horse spend time in that part of the arena before the bell goes. That way your horse will hopefully behave himself during his test.
- The key to a good dressage test is keeping a rhythm. Movements should not be performed at the expense of this. A common mistake you see is people rushing their tests.
- To help keep your test rhythmical stay relaxed. Do not let adrenalin take over. Keep breathing in a calm manner.
- Accuracy is also key to a good dressage test, so make sure you ride to your markers. If you perform your movements exactly at the letter then you will be rewarded.
- The easiest thing you can do in a dressage arena is smile. By smiling you will look confident in the judges’ eyes and you will look like you are enjoying yourself. Leave a lasting impression with the judges when you leave the arena by showing them your pearly whites regardless of how your test has gone.
- Lastly enjoy yourself, competing is meant to be fun. Many people do dressage as a hobby so the last thing you want to do is be unhappy when you are competing. If your day does not go as you expected it to go there is always another competition in the near future.
For more information on Sara’s choice of saddles visit www.blackcountrysaddles.com