How I prepare for a dressage test

Test riding – does it make your body tense just hearing those words? I know a lot of people struggle with this and as I’m doing an online competition this month, thought what better timing than now to write a few words about it.

First I pick out what level I should do, I like to train higher than I compete.

Then I look at the test and see what specific movements is in it; so for the test I’m riding which is Elementary 44 we have: 10 metre circles & two half ten metre circles with change of rein in trot, halt 6 seconds, 15 metre circles and 5 metre loops in canter, one change the rein through trot and one change the rein from B to E with a simple change.

Then I ride each movement as an individual to see if we’re comfortable and confident doing them. When everything feels okey on their own I start putting things together.

Elementary 44 has the trotting part in the beginning and canter part in the end so I started by riding the trot part of the test separate and then the canter part.

Often when you start putting things together you find out weaknesses and strengths. Once it feels ok as separates I put it together. But still think of it as seperate parts – this way I don’t get overwhelmed.

In training I always think I want to highlight any issues and work them! In competitions I think “how can I highlight my strengths and hide my weaknesses.”

I ride through the whole test once with no expectations to see what happens when I put it all together.

As I’ve already ridden and practised the parts by themselves it shouldn’t have to many surprises. I like to ride through it a few times so it becomes a pattern in my head rather than me talking the test out in my head. This is the way I like to do it, other visualise it, some run it by foot, some draw it & there is even apps you can download now. There’s no rights or wrongs this is just a matter of how you as an individual like to learn.

At the actual competition day, or test riding like I’m doing this month, the main thing I like to put focus on is to enjoy it! Ride it as you’ve done before at home, you know you can do this, you’ve practised, trained, memorized & gone through this many times – believe in that. I take big comfort in just acceptance; whatever I feel on the day, I embrace and relax with it.

On the day is not a time to change anything, it’s a time to enjoy the amazing work you’ve put in beforehand!

Good luck and I hoped this helped.

Take Care

Ancha XO


Author: Take The Reins Equestrian Training

Freelance instructor and rider working in the equine industry in Norway and the UK. with a dream of inspiring people along their journeys❤

6 thoughts on “How I prepare for a dressage test”

  1. I am off to a show this weekend. I am confident about almost all of the test (Intermediare 1) as I have done it before, last winter, in competition. But since then my coach has helped me to up the ante and make his gaits more expressive. So the challenge is to keep that level of expression, and execute the movements. I think we can do it and I am looking forward to the challenge. Your post arrived just at the right time to encourage me to remember to “enjoy the ride”.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great tips – and very timely as I start planning my gelding’s (hopefully successful) return to the competition scene! I’ve definitely been trying to ride the tests in separate pieces or as individual movements as I find that my horse tries to anticipate the movements if we school the tests over and over again. But I absolutely agree the key part is to ENJOY the ride! x

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s