Palm Partnership Training™
Building a Partnership with your Horse
So, you and your horse have been training in anticipation of entering your first Western Dressage show. But how do you know when you’re actually ready to compete?
This is a question of confidence. Your instructor or coach should be realistic and give you advice on whether or not you are ready to compete. If you don’t have an instructor, a video camera is your best tool to see yourself ride. Watch for willingness and smoothness from your horse when you are riding. This will give you a better perspective to whether or not you are ready to compete.
Here are a few tips to consider that will help you know if you’re ready for that first show. The following tips can also be used to improve some difficulties that you may be having as you train.
Know what skills are in a test and what level you should start with. If you are not loping confidently yet, you can start with the levels that have walk and jog only. You can get the western dressage tests from Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA) by going online to www.westerndressageassociation.org.
If you are intimidated about remembering the test, you can have someone go with you in the ring and “call out the test” for you. This is a great confidence builder; however, make sure you practice with the “call person” at home before you compete.
Walk the test on the ground with the test in your hand, calling out the test as you walk it. This is the best way to learn the test, without the horse. Get familiar with the transitions, figures, and speed that you need to achieve in each gait. Walking the test will help you gain higher scores because it will help you ride with more accuracy.
Riding with accuracy is a fun challenge when riding a dressage test. You have to learn the “math,” such as learning the size of the arena, the distance between letters and how to ride the figures with accuracy.
Make sure that you get tests that describe each component and the objectives of what the judge will be looking for in each transition, gait, and figure. I use Dressage Illustrations. Even though it is just available now for English Dressage, it is good to study the Training, First, and Second levels as you will gain helpful knowledge that you can relate to Western Dressage. There are judging objectives on the western dressage tests too.
Check out our Palm Partnership Training books available on our website. Practice the tests at home. It will give you the confidence if you are doing the test consistently. Learn your challenge areas and work with your instructor or DVDs to improve. Have someone video tape you so you can see your progress as well.
The final step as to whether you’re ready to show is becoming excited about showing. You have to want to compete for all the right reasons. There is no better feeling than seeing all your hard work and dedication pay off and come together. You have to plan, set achievable goals and go for it!
If you do one show and test, you may be hooked forever. Join us and learn how to become a better rider. We can teach you how to build your horse into a willing partner that is happy to compete. It is so much fun to learn to dance with your horse and become one together in harmony.
Now get out there, set a goal to show and have fun! You will get your test back from the judge with scores, comments and homework for the next show. Another great part of Dressage is that you compete at a scheduled time of the day. You know right when you need to be ready to compete. This is the best way to prepare you and your horse to do your best. Good Luck!