What prep would you recommend for a young horse before first dressage test.

Horsemad87

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Hi all,

I've a 6 year old horse who is very green, only been under saddle 12 months and have had to take it very slowly.

He is quite under confident in general and I've spent a lot of time building up his confidence and developing his confidence in me.

I'm thinking about entering our first dressage test at a very low key riding club event and was hoping for some tips on what preparation you have done with your young horses before taking them to their first show. We have regular lessons so he's used to going out in the trailer and we have done a couple of arena hires at the place the event is at.

Thanks all
 

Flowerofthefen

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I hired an arena by myself, then with a few others. On the day I asked if I could go first in the test so we were in the warm up alone with horses coming on rather than joining a load already in there. I had in mind that I would withdraw if I couldn't settle him in the warm up. Luckily he was a diamond and was unfazed .
 

paddi22

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if he's been to venue that's half the battle.I usually go hc and do two tests in walk/trot for first show, if lowest level is prelim I just skip the canter. I'd also school in a venue with an arena set up beforehand, so they are used to white boards. I'd make sure I've brought him to a warmup somewhere, so he's not thrown by it. id set up a 20 x 40 or 60 arena with poles in arena to make sure I have the balance on turns etc. for first tests I don't worry about the riding or results. I don't push to get movement at the exact markers if it's going to be a bad transition ro they are unbalanced. I literally just want them to go in, have fun and I praise them all through test. I just want them to come out thinking they are amazing and that im delighted with them.
 
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SEL

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For the first tests (& I still have this at new venues) I basically just steer around the Intro test. I have been known to tie a green ribbon you can see from space in his tail too.

I found judges incredibly understanding. The bell or horn were always sounded when I was at the far end and at least once I'm sure I got extra time to show baby cob around.
 

lizziebell

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What I’ve always found extremely valuable for youngsters is attending “group” lessons, such as riding club rallies. It’s the closest you’ll get to a warm-up in a more controlled environment. Even if your horse works happily with others on your yard, at rallies there will be different horses and people.
 

millitiger

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I like to go to some group lessons/ clinics so the warm up isn't a complete surprise with other horses.
Then ask to be first on in the first class if you can, so the warm up is empty to start and also means you might get an extra minute or two around the edge of the boards before the bell rings!
 

daydreamer

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Mine sounds similar to yours. I did our first dressage competition the other week. It was at home though so a bit easier. I made sure he was used to the white boards and had a practice with my car in the judge’s position and got someone to beep the horn. He was distracted on the day by all the other horses (about 5!) so probably some group clinics or similar might have helped.

I did also ask to go early and was put first which helped so it’s worth asking.
 

SpotsandBays

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I went and had a practice in the arena first, dragging a couple of white boards out for him to look at. Tried to be one of the first people in so that the warmup was quiet, and just focussed on keeping him calm and letting him have a good look. (We just did an intro so it didn’t hugely matter if the warmup wasn’t overly successful!)
 
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