Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Any Tips?

Asking for a friend (really), do you struggle with memorizing your dressage tests? Do you use a reader? If not, why? What are your best tips and tricks for memorizing your test?

On another note, I had a great ride on Emi tonight. She came out wound up so I opted for a quick lunge as I hadn't ridden her since last Thursday. A few minutes of lunging and one huge buck later she looked like the kind of horse I'd like to ride. It's amazing to me how much she seems to have grown up in the last month or two. She's feeling more and more broke and is becoming pretty reliable.

We have a clinic in about a month and I'm super excited to get more input. The only real problem I've had with starting Emi myself is knowing when it's time to push her further. At this time I think we are definitely ready to up the ante. Today Emi was pretty sure she had no idea what giving to the bit would mean. I could hear JW warning me to be careful that I don't let her out of the contact when she won't go. In other words, don't throw away the contact to get her to go as that will quickly teach her that sucking back solves the question of having contact. Tonight was one of the first nights where we really had a discussion about it. Luckily for me, Emi discussions usually last about, oh, 10 steps. Haha.

I was careful to push her forward and not give up the contact and after llama necking half a circle she gave it up. I tried to be really aware of whether or not she was actually being soft or if she was just faking it. My attention to detail paid off and by the time we finished up she felt awesome. I could have ridden longer but I know she was tired.

Since we are tackling Intro C at our next show we worked on several canter transitions and got some that were decent. I'm excited to see if JW thinks we are at a point where I can start to influence the canter.  The last time we saw her, in February, she still didn't feel like Emi was ready so I've basically been riding her around in a nice forward canter but not asking anything more than that.

Thursday is going to be Emi's first ride with someone other than me.  A good friend is going to ride her 2-3 times while I'm at Rolex. I'm excited to see how she does with a different rider and also what Melissa thinks of her.


  1. I prefer to memorize my tests rather than have a reader. However, for my first outings with Carmen I'm thinking I will have one because there will be so much to deal with mentally keeping her in the game.

    I can't memorize the test as a series of discrete movements but I do well memorizing it as a pattern. I review the tests frequently and then spend time visualizing myself riding them. To be honest it's a great way to fall asleep if I'm having trouble. :D

  2. I agree with Teresa - I learn tests as a pattern rather than by each individual movement and letter, so you're memorizing bigger chunks at a time. I also take a printed copy of the dressage court and trace it out with a pen or my finger, and say the test out loud in a way that makes sense to me. I.e., instead of "Working canter between K and A," I'll say to myself, "Canter in the corner" since that sticks better than the letters!

  3. I prefer to memorize tests instead of a reader- I find I don't pay attention to riding when I'm listening for a person. I also usually have a plan for almost every step in the ring, so listening for a person doesn't work for me (I find it very distracting).

    I do not memorize "by the letter", I devise my own ring lingo and apply as needed: long diagonal, 3/4 diagonal, short diagonal, in the corner, turn across the school in the middle, etc. I memorize as a pattern. I bought the USEF dressage app (it has training through 4th level) because it shows you the tests as patterns on a diagram instead of words in a table. I draw out rings on paper, then draw the test over and over and over (dots for walk, dashes for trot, solid line for canter, etc).

    Other things to note: if you do something one direction, you'll do a mirror image the other direction. Keeping that in mind while you're memorizing makes it easier.

    I also run through tests in my head if I'm having trouble falling asleep! It is an excellent method of counting sheep, haha!

  4. Another vote for memorizing over the distraction of a reader. I "play horsey," walking, trotting and cantering the test in my house with test in hand . . . I guess that's kind of putting it in kinetic memory.

  5. I like to walk my tests on foot. Not in a full arena, just in a rectangular area (like in my office or if you have a yard). I also like the diagrams I make or other diagrams. Visual works a lot better for me than just reading words.


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