While dressage is a supremely objective discipline, there are still ways to sway the judge from the start, and thus ensure he/she will look favourably upon the rest of your performance. How do you do this, you may ask. I shall enlighten you. The following steps should suffice:

1. Show no fear

ex. Medium canter = give’r

2. Thwart authority

ex. A, down centre line, halt at X. Excuse me, but, I will halt where I please, or not at all. No one is going to tell me what to do. 

3. Be creative

ex. A 20 meter circle is fairly mundane, there are several ways it could be re-interpreted (ellipsis, oval, diamond, parallelogram, pentagon etc…). The letters are really just guidelines anyhow.

4. Rage against the machine

ex. The entire show is organised based upon the fact that each test should take between 5-7 minutes. It’s time to go against the system: feel free to ride that test in under 2 minutes.

5. Be a crowd-pleaser

ex. Even if the judge is not on your side, you can get some crowd participation (oohs and ahhs) with your fancy footwork; throw in some moves they won’t expect!

6. Know your test

ex. Each letter has a secret meaning that the judge is looking for. In case you didn’t know, H stands for “hurry”, A for “accelerate” and F for “faster”. Once you figure out this secret code, you’ll win bonus points from the judge.


Stay tuned for my next installment, where I break down the minutae of jumping…