Countdown to First: Things To Remember

Hoping for lots of this in the show ring...
Despite not being 100% prepared and confident, not having ridden in a regulation-size dressage court since like... last year, and suspicions that my new-to-me dressage saddle may need some professional adjustment to be as perfect as it could be, we're going to a horse show this weekend and taking a whack at First Level 1 & 2.

It's a schooling show, and my main goal is not to embarrass us while simultaneously squeaking out a 60% at this level, which I haven't showed at since college back when you had to sit the trot at First.

Needless to say, it's been a while.

But I think that First 1 will be a generally good test for us, except for the stretchy circle coming up so early in the test. I'm not sure Dino will be as eager to stretch down at that point as he is later on in a test, so that movement will take some riding on my part. I do like how much more rapid-fire the movements are vs. the Training Level tests, and I think it will keep Dino's attention much better than straight lines and 20m circles. He's been doing a great job at the lengthenings, and the canter departs at the letters have been spot-on.  First 2 is a little more challenging for us, but I think the trot lengthenings right off the bat will help get the motor running right in the beginning of the test.

If I can just remember these few things, we'll be just fine:

-I need to not get so frantic about completing the test that I forget to help Dino keep stretching over his topline and relaxing. Lots of deep breathing and reminders to allow myself to relax will help here, as well as focusing on stretching in the warm up.

-Keeping my hands UP and FORWARD - especially during transitions - has made the difference between Dino getting braced and hollow and staying on the bit.

-Holding the left side of my body UP and OPEN makes left bend actually happen.

-Half halts. Those are a thing. They help.

My riding plan for the rest of the week includes a day off today while I run another 5k (#3 for the season!) and lots of relaxed, stretchy flatwork on Thursday and Friday, likely followed up by a light lunging session in the chambon on Saturday to really get Dino loose and feeling good about himself. Sunday is show day, and while I hope we won't have to rest on the merits of the cute new outfit I have on order, if we totally bomb both tests at least we'll look good doing it!


  1. oh man, i'm super excited for you!! love all your goals too - they sound totally reasonable and on point for the first show of the season. it's all about just getting out there! seriously tho, you guys SLAYED last year in the dressage ring all season long, so i'm really excited to see what you can do with the tests from a more fun and complicated level!

  2. OOoh so exciting! RE not getting frantic, one trainer told me to make every movement take as long as possible. Not go slow per se, but make sure it had a beginning, middle, and end (which should be the set up for the next movement), and complete each part of it entirely. That helps keep me focused on what I'm doing now instead of rushing ahead to the next thing.

    Y'all are definitely more than ready though, so go have fun and good luck!

  3. Super exciting! I know you two will do great!

  4. So exciting! Have fun and enjoy!

  5. shall i stand behind the judges with cue cards?

    could work!!

  6. Go pony! This is so exciting!

    But what is this... breathing you speak of?

  7. Yay! Show time! Have a great time, and I hope you get some photos!


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