The object of the Competition is to stimulate interest and enjoyment in Dressage and correct training of the horse, thereby encouraging Members to improve their riding by acquiring and establishing an independent seat, and a true knowledge of the aids.
The object of Dressage is the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse. As a result it makes the horse calm, supple, loose and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with his rider.
What is Dressage?
Many people have seen Olympic or Grand Prix level dressage on television. The horses seem to do intricate maneuvers as the rider sits almost motionless. But, dressage isn't just fancy moves with hard to pronounce names! Every time we train our horses to carry us with more ease, and respond to subtle aids, we are training them in basic dressage. Dressage is teaching a horse to be supple, balanced and responsive.
Dressage is about showing the judge that you can get your pony to do what you want him to do, when you want him to do it.
You and your pony have to follow a set of instructions laid out in the dressage test.
A judge marks the test. They give you a mark out of ten for how well you carry out each instruction. At the end of the test the marks are added up and the winner is the horse and rider with the highest score.
How do I Start?
The good new is that you have probably already started doing some Dressage!
When you are riding at home and getting the pony to do the things that you want him to do you are already practising the basics of dressage.
To improve you and your pony, you might want to have lessons with an instructor. This includes the lessons that you have at a rally, where you will get help with your riding which will make the pony behave better.
The goal of dressage training is to develop a horse's flexibility, responsiveness to aids and balance. This makes the horse stronger and more pleasurable to ride.
If you compete you will always be competing against yourself, as well as others taking the test. The goal in competition is to always improve on your own score.
Can I do more?
As you and your pony get better and your confidence grows you may want to take part in a competition.If you cannot remember your dressage test, don’t worry as someone can read the test out loud to you (apart from Area Competitions and Championships).
With lots of practice and competition experience you may get to compete at National Pony Club Dressage competitions.
What do I do at a competition?
The dressage ring is marked at its perimeter with letters. Before you enter the ring you will hear a beep, bell or whistle. This lets you know you have a certain time to enter the dressage ring before you are penalized. You will enter the arena.
The judges will give you a score on every element of the dressage test as you ride. They will look for obedience, suppleness, accuracy, attitude and how well you ride. When you have completed your test you will halt, salute the judge and leave the ring. At the end of the dressage competition you will receive your score card, with a final score.
How do I prepare for a Dressage Competition?
Work on improving your horse's or pony's flexibility and responsiveness. It's important to train slowly. Forcing a horse into 'frame' could cause sore muscles and a reluctant horse. Your horse might learn to carry his front end properly, without learning to drive with his hind-end. This can cause soreness and a reluctant attitude. Help your horse learn his lessons completely and allow his muscles time to adjust to moving in a different way than he may be used to.
Practice each element of the dressage test without riding the entire test repeatedly. The judge is looking for willingness and obedience to your cue, not how well your horse can memorize! Practice so that your collected, working and extended gaits are distinct, and the halts, square.
If you only spend time dressage training your horse will soon feel you are going to spend every minute ordering him around. Spend some time trail riding so he has a chance to stretch, use all of his muscles and develop cardiovascular fitness. Allow time for relaxation and fun.
For the test you will want your horse spotlessly groomed, his mane braided and tackcleaned.
Top Tip :
You can easily make arena letters out of up-turned detergent buckets, pylons, or scrap wood that can be painted or written on with waterproof marker.
The Benifits of Dressage
Basic dressage training is valuable whether you plan to compete in the sport, or in any other discipline. All manner of horses can benefit from dressage training. Your horse will become more athletic and obedient and you will become a better rider.
If you compete in dressage you'll quickly find that the greater challenge is trying to improve your score, not just bringing home a rosette. With every element receiving a mark out of 10, you will be able to see what aspects you need to practice before you ride the next test.