I don’t know about you I really struggle to remember my dressage tests. I am historically a show jumper, however as I have grown older I have liked the challenge of being an all-rounder. I have now done a few riding club dressage tests and even a couple of one day events, with varying success. I can for some reason remember my jumping courses easily, however with dressage I am useless at remembering my tests. At my first one day event with my pony Cassie I forgot my dressage test twice and the horror of that Judge’s car horn beeping twice haunts me to this day. Since that day I must have a caller every time and that is just not possible sometimes. Even with a caller you still need to be able to remember what move is next to make sure you can do the test the best you possibly can.
So, you want to be the next Charlotte Dujardin?
Here are my 6 top tips for remembering your dressage test.
I have found the best results need patience and a good sense of humour too!
1.Walking your test on foot.
This is a very effective way of making you look like a complete nut case! But I have found it to be very effective. The best way to do this is take the ‘Dance like no one is watching’ approach and pretend you are riding but do the test on foot. I mean walk, trot and canter on your own two feet as if you are your horse. Practical Horseman Mag suggest this way is particularly good for kids! This also is a good way to repeat the movements of the test without your clever pony getting bored or thinking they know a better way. It can be done in the actual arena or any made up arena in your lounge/ car park/ office etc.
2. Drawing your test on paper or on a white board.
Dressage4All suggest another personal favourite of mine. Just draw out an arena with the markers in the correct place on a washable white board or a piece of paper and draw the route of your test on the sheet. This method works best if you have practiced the test and are familiar with it already. You can get as detailed as you want and use different colours for each gait or keep it simple. Just imagine that you are doing the test and draw it on the paper. I found this method very helpful as it is easy to repeat over and over again.
3. Listening to your test being called.
Another method which could be helpful is calling your own test out and recording it on your phone. You can then replay it to yourself when you are riding it or repeat it whenever you want to revise the test. Alternatively Equivisions offer a service that plays all dressage tests from intro to advanced medium at 3 different speeds as MP3 downloads.
4. Watching others do your test online or in real life.
This one maybe controversial. People seem to have differing views on whether it is helpful to watch others do their test. However the FEI have recommended it as a good way for you to visualise what your test looks like when it is ridden.
5. Dressage Today suggest reciting the test for a friend so he/she can follow your instructions to see if you can remember it properly.
If he/she can do the test with you reciting it – well done! If they can’t you need to memorize it better!
6. Use an app.
Of course there is an app for EVERYTHING. There are many dressage apps that incorporate the above techniques to help you learn your tests. The British Dressage app Testpro British Dressage is free. There are other ones to purchase available such as Equi Sketch Dressage and FEI Equi Tests to name a few.
I hope that my top tips will be useful and give you some new ideas to help you memorise your tests.