So you're going to give online dressage a go, but what next? Here's our top tips for getting organised and ready for your online dressage test. And we've created a free checklist to download and save.
Have a look at the schedule of classes online and choose a level and test that feels right for where you and your horse are in your training. We provide an overview of each test, so you can see at a high level what kinds of movements are required. You'll need to get a copy of the test sheet too - click here to find out where to buy. There may be some older versions of test sheets still circulating, or you might have them in your own collection, so make sure you've got the right version (we publish the test number and year in the schedule so it's easy to check).
It can be quite daunting trying to remember 15 or so movements, particularly when you've got to focus on how your horse is going, but there are lots of different ways to learn and memorise your test. Find the best one that works for you.
Read through the whole test first, getting a feel for where the movements are in the arena and try to visualise riding it. Then learn the first five movements, repeat them to yourself. Then learn the next five and repeat the test from movement one, then learn the next five and so on.
There's a danger that you might over practice and your horse may start to anticipate the movements instead of listening to you. Have a quick run through (and film it if you can) and then pick out the movements that are the biggest challenge and work on those in the run up to filming your test.
As with live dressage events, there are a set of rules you need to follow to ensure the competition is fair for all riders. We do update our rules from time to time, so keep an eye on the Rules page for any changes - they'll be highlighted in yellow so you can find them easily.
Remove any collections of jump wings or poles from the arena, either move them to a corner or outside of the arena. We want to make sure the judge's view isn't obscured and you get the marks you deserve!
Check the size of the arena for your test. If it's slightly larger than 20 x 40, section it off with some poles or boards. If you don't have an arena to ride in, that's no problem! Find a relatively flat level surface and measure out your arena, we've got a guide on how to set up your own arena here.
We run to BD rules with one exception - if you opt to wear competition clothing (shirt, stock, jacket), add boots or bandages to your horse. This is so the judge knows your test hasn't been filmed at a live competition and already judged. If you're not wearing competition gear, then smart and tidy jodhpurs and riding shirt or t-shirt will do the job! Riding hats must be worn along with suitable footwear with a heel.
Make sure you wear gloves - you'll risk a 2 mark deduction otherwise!
As with live events, some tack isn't permitted in our competition classes: martingales, bit rings, Western saddles, some bits. So make sure you remove these and check the bit on your bridle too.
With all your preparations made, it's time to get ready and film your test! Download our free checklist to get you started.