Dressage Tests

As we work to keep our positive outlook and have faith that spring is on the way (despite the thermometer trying to tell us otherwise as it struggles to reach a positive number), we can’t help but beginning to think about the start of show season… and with that, dressage tests!  Previously, I suggested taking advantage of the cold weather (and time at the computer instead of in the barn) to get yourself and your horse registered (or updated and renewed) with the USEF, USDF, IDCTA (our local GMO), and any breed registries relevant to your horse.  Hopefully everyone is working on that!

I have my own memberships set to go… but I need a little help with Liam.  I can’t decide if I want to show him as “Liam” or use his Jockey Club registered name “Gallant Gesture”, or something else entirely.  Liam is his name, it’s hard to call him anything else.  But as far as Jockey Club names go, Gallant Gesture isn’t half bad.  And I’m proud that he’s a thoroughbred, and I’d like to work towards a USDF All Breed Award for him through the North American Thoroughbred Society.  But I can use either name.  What do you guys think?

Anyways, getting back on topic.  Dressage tests.  As we sign up for all this stuff and start to get excited about showing this spring, we have to begin to think about what tests we want to ride.  We have to start memorizing the tests.  Now is also the time to make a plan to work on any of the parts of the tests that are still a little sticky.  No one wants to be training in the show ring!  But for those of us new to dressage and showing, the tests are quite mysterious.  It begins with those random letters scattered around the arena, and then all these shapes we are supposed to ride.  Where did they come from?  

On the USDF website, I found a very informative page with an interesting description of the possible history regarding the origin of the letters.  It goes on to describe the scoring of the tests, and the collective marks.  This is a must read for anyone ready to head into the ring!  http://www.usdf.org/about/about-dressage/competition/tests.asp

There’s also an excellent page with a very simplified summary of the required get-up for your first dressage show, complete with beautiful pictures http://www.usdf.org/about/about-dressage/competition/tack-equipment.asp

If your thirst for knowledge is not quenched by the information provided on the USDF website, let me recommend a book.  It’s called “Dressage from A to X” by Barbara Burkhardt.  Amazon or your local tack shop should be able to get you a copy.  I am not through reading it yet, but so far I am very impressed!  It covers all the basics, and then some.  The illustrations are awesome.  They are black and white drawings, but effectively get the point across, even for sometimes vague concepts (like a rounded topline, or a training level frame vs a first level frame).  This book covers everything from rules you should know, to preparing a warm up routine, to what to pack on the big day.  It explains tests, scoring, and what the judge is looking for in different movements.  While it has many parts specific to showing, it also provides excellent guidelines for anyone wanting to train and progress in dressage, even if they don’t show.   I rate it “Awesome”, and I’m trying to decide if I want to merely share parts of it with my show team, or just go ahead and make it required reading.  Book club anyone?

One thought on “Dressage Tests

  1. My vote for Liam’s show name is his JC name – Gallant Gesture. Why? Because I like retaining the racing name, just in case someone somewhere recognizes that name and realizes that that the old racer they once knew is now doing dressage.

    And as racehorse names go, Gallant Gesture is a good one. Don’t believe me? Ask Swamp Monkey, Vacuum Cleaner and Doremefasolatido ….

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