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How to Perform Better in Your Next Dressage Test – Top Advice from Carl Hester

June 28, 2023

Dressage is a dance between horse and rider. However, the dressage test can be a nerve-wracking experience, even for seasoned professionals. Are you looking to boost your performance and attain higher scores? Do you wish to move beyond nerves and common mistakes? We bring you an exclusive insight into the winning strategies of renowned dressage master, Carl Hester.

Here’s 7 tips to perform better in your next dressage test:

1. Embrace Preparation

Preparation is the key to success. Carl Hester emphasises the need for thorough preparation before every dressage test. “Take your horse to a different place to see how it reacts. Maybe even plait the mane and dress up. I always take the young horses to arena hires to know what to expect at the show,” he shares.

Practicing the movements in your dressage test is also important. A week or so before the show, ride through the entire test. Recording your practice session allows you to revisit your performance and pinpoint areas for improvement. Remember, preparation is your ticket to perform better at your next dressage test.

2. Train Above Your Competition Level

The secret to reducing stress and increasing confidence is simple: always train at a higher level than you compete. This strategy ensures that both the rider and the horse feel confident, relaxed, and prepared. The familiarity with more advanced movements can help make the actual dressage test feel less intimidating and more achievable.

3. Maintain Your Warmup Routine

Arriving early before your test gives you time to calm your nerves and prepare yourself and your horse. It’s important to keep to the same warmup routine that you follow at home. The consistency helps to reassure your horse and set a positive tone for the upcoming dressage test.

4. One Movement at a Time

Navigating a dressage test can feel overwhelming, but here’s a valuable tip from Carl Hester: ride one movement at a time. If a mistake occurs, it’s not the end of the world. The key is to not let it unsettle you. Instead, forget about it and focus on your next movement. This approach helps maintain your focus and ensures that one error doesn’t throw off your entire performance.

5. Concluding Positively

Every dressage test, irrespective of the result, is a learning opportunity. After your test, return to the warmup arena and give your horse a nice stretch. This action helps end the experience on a good note, even if the test didn’t go as planned. “Take five minutes to moan about it, then focus on what you can learn, and how to do better next time,” says Carl Hester.

6. Reflect, Learn, and Improve

Every dressage test is an opportunity to learn and grow. Reflect on your performance and pinpoint areas for improvement. Were there moments of tension? Did you and your horse maintain a smooth rhythm and connection? Each dressage test is a unique experience, and each experience holds lessons. Taking the time to reflect and learn from each test is an essential step towards becoming a better rider.

7. Consistency is Key

Success in dressage isn’t achieved overnight. It’s a journey of consistency and perseverance. Consistent training, consistent mindset, and a consistent warmup routine are all essential elements for success. Stick to your routines, and remember that progress, no matter how small, is still progress.

Join the Carl Hester Dressage Challenge

Carl Hester’s Dressage Challenge in Ridely aims to help riders like you to perform better at shows and collect higher scores. It provides a comprehensive guide, starting from the first halt and center line, through to circles and corners, differences of paces and different movements. This program equips you with all the tools needed to improve your scores.

By implementing Carl Hester’s exclusive tips and advice, you can conquer your nerves, improve your performance, and master your dressage test. Remember, the goal is not perfection but continual improvement.

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Learn from Carl Hester in Ridely!

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