Dressage Show Fun

The Blaze Face Chestnut Club
I have a dear friend who I've been annoyingly trying to get to come with me to one of the Tuesday Evening Dressage Shows at the horse park this summer. After a long hiatus from riding, she's finally back in the saddle on a solid little school horse, and as soon as she told me that her trainer gave her the go-ahead to take the mare to some local shows, I basically started pestering her nonstop about going to one! At $20 a test you really can't beat it for a low-key opportunity to get in the ring and be judged. Also, ribbons.

We finally made it out to a show yesterday evening, and I must say it was a pretty successful outing for everyone involved.

My friend had a great experience, and did SO well considering it was her first time in the show ring in 10 years, and she handled a big spook from her mare with complete calm and composure!

As is typical for Dino and I at shows, we didn't put in our best work, but came away with a pretty solid score anyway.

I had decided to do a "real" dressage test and ride Training 2. It had a lot of elements I like to ride on Dino (long trot diagonals, canter departs in the corner going towards A) and was also in front of a judge that I haven't been seen by a million times, unlike the judge who was in the small arena, who I have ridden in front of at approximately every other horse trial I attend.

I probably should have given myself more than one day to learn the test, and maybe should have run through it on the pony at some point before the show. I had grand plans to do so on Monday night, but severe thunderstorms ruined that for me.

I think one of my major mistakes here was rushing my warm-up. I ended up getting on Dino about 20 minutes before my test, and told myself that it would be plenty of time, especially considering the fact that it was still pretty hot out and I didn't want to waste all of his energy in the schooling ring. So instead of allowing the time I do at home for a long warm up in free walk to get his back up and working, I walked for a few minutes and then put him on the bit and started the trot work, focusing on getting him FORWARD and moving off the leg.

We only had one disagreement about cantering FORWARD after the depart, during which Dino bucked, and I then made him hand-gallop his butt all the way down the long side of the massive arena. My aggressive approach to warm-up definitely helped to get him more forward, but I had sacrificed really getting Dino working over his back and relaxed.

We went in for our test, and I was focused so hard on making our first centerline straight and not starting the bend too soon before we were close to C that I nearly missed our first halt.

Guys. Real dressage tests have TWO halts.

I pulled Dino to an unbalanced, screeching halt somewhere after X (ugh), saluted, and continued on.

Throughout the test, I felt that Dino was behind the leg. I was very focused on keeping him moving at all costs, and thought that the best way to achieve that would be to clamp my leg and spur onto him and never let go. While this approach did, in fact, prevent him from breaking gait, it did not contribute to him actually going any more correctly.

I felt that the trot work was very much just OK. There were no glaring errors, but Dino also didn't feel sparkly-fantastic, either. The first canter depart was quite hollow, but I was able to pull things together after a stride or two, and our canter circles were actually pretty decent - not too big, and Dino stayed round and generally forward throughout. I wish I would have prepared more for the downward transitions to trot, but those movements could've been worse. I had an error in the walk work - the test reads medium walk from F to E, then free walk to M, but I did my medium to X instead because... First Level serpentine? Or something? We got rung out there, but after I rode the walk work correctly we finished the test with no other glaring mistakes.

Somehow, we scored a 66.7%, good enough for third place as long as the last rider didn't blow anyone out of the water! I'm still waiting for final placings. (AND SATIN!)

Not too shabby, all things considered!
There is another show in two weeks, and I'm eager to get back out there and improve on our test, as well as to continue enabling my friend as she gets back into dressage.


  1. Low key dressage shows are the best! And 66+% is a very respectable score!

  2. That's a great score!! Sounds like a really fun outing.

  3. Definitely a good score!!

  4. Good for you! I would say that that is a very respectful score

  5. They do fun little shows like this Thursday nights every month, but no ribbons so I don't go. Because I'm a child and want satin all the time. Heck yes for a good outing though!

    1. Who has horse shows without ribbons!? If I'm paying for someone to judge me, I want satin, dangit!

  6. Those sound like such a fun idea. Congrats on a super score!

  7. Congratulations on a successful and fun outing!


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