Learning Dressage Tests

At the start of October I am planning on entering a dressage competition the classes I will be entering will be the unaffiliated prelim classes. This means I have two tests to learn. One test on the 20x40m arena and another on the 20x60m arena, its been a while since I have done two tests on the same day so Im a little on the nervous side!

At the moment I’m trying to get it in to my head so I am drawing and redrawing the test. I have drawn an arena and figured out how far I need my circles to go so that when I’m practicing I can look for the lines.

How do you go about learning tests ? Is there a method you use to memorise the tests?

12 thoughts on “Learning Dressage Tests

  1. Never done dressage, but just looking at your photos of the patterns have made me break out in a sweat. I think your approach of drawing it over and over is a good one. When I had to memorize showmanship patterns in 4-h, I would “do” the pattern in small area I pretended was an arena by myself without the horse and recite what I was suppose to do out loud. “Doing” the pattern and reciting it out loud helped me to remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It feels like it will be the only way I woll learn it! My boyfriend was laughing at me because he could hear me muttering “trot trot trot walk walk walk” under my breath ๐Ÿ™ˆ


  2. Draw small squares on paper, one for each movement, and then draw the movement. Dots for walk. Short lines for trot, wiggle line forcanter and for extended make the dotรท, lines, squiggle lines longer of bigger. If there is a halt I put an X and write halt above the letter. I put the letters on the sides of the boxes but only the letters involved in that movement. My daughter used to walk , trot, canter the test on the living room or barn floor. I guess it is whatever works for you.

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    1. I have never heard of learning it using the dots and lines way, I might give it a try! I also do the walking in the living round muttering to myself – it gets a few concerned looks from my other half haha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The dots and lines are just my invention so that I know what gait is going where. You could make up anything you like that means something to you. Best of luck with the show!


  3. Iโ€™m another that draws each movement out and will pace it out in the front room with post-itโ€™s on the walls. One lady I know learns them better if she hears them rather than sees them so she records herself reading the test and plays it in the car. If Iโ€™m trying to learn more than one test I draw them out in different colours and remember the โ€˜redโ€™ test and the โ€˜greenโ€™ test. It seems to help me visualise them on the day. Good luck!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Recording it is an interesting one, I have about an hours commute when I head up to the yard after work due to the traffic so it would be something to listen to in the car. And thanks!


  4. Hey,
    Firstly good luck when you compete ๐Ÿ˜Š I memorise mine visually on paper first. I get a blank sheet and write the letters on it. Then I do a line for walk, dots for trot and a dash for canter. I say it out loud too, so as I am doing these dashes from E to B I am saying; canter canter canter out loud. While I am warming up I try to sneak a peek at the competitor that is before me and watch their test. This cements it in my mind. Then I close my eyes and go through the test in my head.

    When I am riding I try. I try to not remember too much. So I firstly just try to remember if I go left or right at C then I realise I have to be trotting so I figure the circle is going to be at E or B in the prelim level. I also always remember that the stretchy trot in prelim is after the first canter in two of the tests so st home I practice a stretchy trot whenever I come out of canter. It’s good for the horses too because then when they come out of canter they naturally remember to do a stretchy trot ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I am glad they are over the different sized arenas since both of the tests turn right at judges so at least with the small one I know the next movement is E and the bigger one the movement is at R. I must be doing one of the other tests as my stretchy trot is after the second canter right before you finish but thats a good idea for practice!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey mate, yeah we have Preliminary 1:3. It’s the one where the stretchy trot is right at the end. Right turn at the Judge is my favourite. Seriously I am a bit of a Zoolander, I can’t turn left and get a good arc!! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I use the EquiSketch Dressage app. It allows me to build the test by creating little hoof prints in the arena, with the directives next to it. So, I can watch the hoofprints move in their proper gait (green for walk, blue for trot and red for canter are what I use) while visualizing the pattern. If I set up the pattern and “ride through it” a few times, I have it down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooo I have never heard of that app – I just had a quick google and it seems to only be on apple but I have an android phone but I think I could download it for my ipad. It sounds like a great app though for visualising the test!


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