Post-Event Thoughts: Dressage

After writing my overall recap post, I realized that I wanted to hash out each phase a little more and really figure out what worked, what didn't, and what I want to change for next time.

Winning The Warm-Up
My warm-up strategy for this horse trial really worked in our favor. I used Dino's strengths and preferences to our advantage, and instead of working in a crowded schooling ring I warmed him up in the grass XC schooling area. He didn't put up a fight about going forward, and stayed much more focused and relaxed outside than he would have in the ring. I also didn't give him much of a break before heading down centerline - I know he needs to stay on task to remain happy and compliant, so I didn't give him time to stand around and get grouchy. I tried another new tactic as well: cantering around the outside of the arena instead of trotting. I wanted my pony to be thinking forward, and the canter work definitely helped! 

If At First You Don't Succeed, Do What Your Trainer Told You To Do
Remember how our lesson last month focused so much on bending? That's something I REALLY should have focused on in the show ring. While we had a lot of the other pieces of the puzzle in place, the judge dinged us again and again for not having enough bend, and she made sure to tell me that we needed better bend when she talked to me at the end of the test. More bend also would have prevented our left lead canter depart disaster, as well as fixed a myriad of other flaws, like Dino falling on his inside shoulder in the down transitions. More bend = more points!

Looking at the photos from this test, I cringe every time I look at my reins. They are SO. LONG. My elbows are often BEHIND my torso in an effort to keep contact with Dino's mouth. I might have to take a page out of Nicole's book and get myself some rainbow reins... 

Go For It In Free Walk
Our free walk is good. It's really good. I know it can be "8" good, but I need to GO FOR IT and really encourage Dino to stretch as far down as he can. I rode this a little conservatively because he felt like he would break into the trot, but I need to trust my pony in this movement and let him shine! 

Square Up The Halt
Our halt is SO close to being perfectly square, I need to really focus and ride the last step up from Dino's hind leg. We can absolutely improve this score with just a little practice.

I've got plenty to work on for our next horse trial, and with a little practice I just know we can snag one of those pretty 35-And-Below Dressage ribbons next time! 


  1. i love all these takeaways (and almost every one applies to my riding lol). the 'more bend' comment showed up repeatedly on my test too and resulted in lots of points left on the table unnecessarily. ah well, live and learn.

    in any case, figuring out the warm up for Dino is HUGE - as my first dressage trainer says: the warm up is the *meat* of the ride, so it's definitely important to have a winning strategy there! nice job!

  2. Great post! I think it's helpful to "digest" an show in smaller pieces to focus on the good stuff, and where to make improvements :)

  3. The warmup is definitely SO important!

  4. I feel like the free walk would be kind of scary, because I would have the same worry you did about breaking into the trot. Good notes to improve on for next time!

  5. All excellent takeaways. I wish there was some way to get all this figured out at home, but no. That's not how it works.

  6. You've got a lot figured out already, and these changes are small but I bet you'll see HUGE improvement from them!

  7. Free walk terrifies me as well

    1. Free walk is my JAM - but pony gets a little too pumped about it sometimes and then his rhythm breaks up and I mess it up by slowing it down too much!


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