How to earn more marks in a dressage test — plus 6 shows you can try it out

Do you sometimes find yourself feeling like you’re banging your head against a brick wall when it comes to improving your dressage scores?

If so, why not take a look at some of these top tips from top young dressage rider Joanna Thurman-Baker (pictured). Joanna, 20, is part of the World Class programme and competes a variety of horses to international level, which includes two rides given to her by Carl Hester, who also helps train her. Last year Joanna was part of the British team at the young rider European championships riding Highcliffe Apollo, with whom she is now competing up to grand prix.

Could these pointers help you push those percentages higher when it comes to performing within the white boards?

1. Know your test inside out and backwards. Joanna says: “There’s nothing worse then panicking that you’ve forgotten where to go.”

2. If there is a mark for transitions before and after an extension, really go for it. “It’s usually worth just as many marks as the extension itself,” says Joanna.

3. Short sides are a chance to show your horse off to the judges. Joanna says: “Encourage your horse to open his profile on the short sides where the judges can see.”

4. Use your corners. “Riding a deep corner in a test gives you more steps and time to prepare for your next movement. Imagine them as your full stops before your next sentence (aka your next movement),” explains Joanna.

5. Remember the immobility in the halts. “Don’t rush in the first halt,” advises Joanna. “Hold your nerve and count a breath after you’ve saluted before you move off (if your horse will allow it!).”

Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these dressage competitions available to enter where you can show off what you’ve learnt…

British Dressage

Date: 17 June
Venue: Kings Sedgemoor, near Bridgwater
Details: “This show features a huge range of classes and qualifiers from prelim to prix st georges with freestyle dressage to music classes too.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated evening dressage

Date: 19 June
Venue: Leamside Equestrian, Houghton Le Spring
Details: “This competition has classes from intro to novice split into junior, senior and para sections with David Broome qualifiers. There is also the chance to pay £2 for a member of staff to read your test for you.”
Enter now

Nervous dressage

Date: 23 June
Venue: Ladyleys, Oldmeldrum
Details: “This event allows you to warm up in either indoor school for 20 minutes, followed by riding a dressage test of your choice without having to leave the arena.”
Enter now

British Dressage

Date: 24 June
Venue: Hill House Equestrian, Market Rasen
Details: “This event offers classes ranging from prelim to advanced medium with music classes too, plus a range of qualifiers.”
Enter now

Team and My Quest

Date: 24 June
Venue: Fenland Equestrian Centre, Wisbech
Details: “Classes from intro to novice with Team Quest and My Quest sections split into open and under-21.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated dressage

Date: 24 June
Venue: Frinchingfield Equestrian Centre, Braintree
Details: “This competition includes classes from a walk and trot dressage test up to medium.”
Enter now

Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings

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