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7 tips to help you ace online dressage

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing events to be cancelled and official advice encouraging everyone to avoid non-essential travel, now could be the perfect time for dressage riders to give online competitions at go.

Organisations that offer online dressage judging in the UK include Dressage Anywhere, InterDressage, Dressage4All and Dressage Riders Online, and the format is simple – enter your chosen class online, ask a friend to film you riding the test in a correctly sized arena, then upload or submit the video online. Your test will then be judged by British Dressage listed judges and you’ll receive marks, feedback via email or in the post, as well as rosettes and often prize money.

To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some top tips for success…

1. Don’t attempt to enter videos of tests that have already been judged in another competition. To help prevent this, ensure that if you choose to wear show attire during your test (usually not compulsory), your horse or pony also wears boots or bandages to clearly prove that the test was not ridden at a show.

2. Check the position of the sun in relation to your arena — you will need a friend to film your test from behind the C marker, so try to ensure that the sun is behind them.

3. You don’t need specialist recording equipment — an iPhone or iPad will work — but do ensure that the camera has a digital or optical zoom function, to use when the rider is at the opposite end of the arena. It’s also a good idea to make sure whoever is doing the recording has practised zooming in and out with control.

4. Go through the floorplan with the person doing the recording, so they know roughly where you will be at which point — and when they will need to zoom in. They should ideally begin recording shortly before the rider enters the arena.

5. Record the test in landscape orientation, keeping the horse and rider in the centre of the frame — they should fill roughly half the vertical space in the frame wherever possible — to ensure the judge has the best possible view.

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6. Make sure you record sound during the test — this shows that riders are not receiving outside coaching during their tests — and ensure that the test is filmed in one continuous sequence, without cuts or edits.

7. Double check the rules of your chosen online dressage body to make sure you comply, as well as making sure you are up to speed with the preferred method of uploading, or sending your video.

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