Spicing up the training at home: competing online with Dressage Anywhere

By Wiola Grabowska

We’ve been meaning to incorporate online dressage tests into Academy programmes on regular basis for quite a while now and have done an odd test with clients here and there. It’s still my aim to make it into a more regular “event” as not only that it brings a nice motivational factor to the dressage lessons but it also makes it possible to acquire feedback from the judges without costly travel.

DA1

Today, we had a go at filming a Novice and an Elementary tests for submission to Dressage Anywhere. Aisha set up the 20m x 40m inside the indoor arena at Brackenhill Stud that is about 30m by 55m which gave a perfect space for placing the camera while having a good view of the whole arena.

I found it surprisingly hard to video the test well with my snazzy equipment (a very thoughtful Christmas gift from my riders a year ago) despite the fact I’d been filming snippets from lessons for feedback since 2009/10! Videoing a test in a flowing manner proved to be a little challenging so Aisha’s mistakes here and there were opportunities for me to correct mine.

DA2

I think one the biggest benefits of staging these sessions for the Development programme riders that occurred to me today will be in creating warm up circumstances similar to real-life shows. Schooling a horse during a flatwork lesson and even talking the rider through the possible ways to warm up for particular tests are quite different to achieving best “test readiness” in 20-30minutes prior the actual test.

The other plus is the option of repetition. Often the atmosphere at shows causes a lot of tension both in the horse and the rider and the fact there is only “one shot” at getting it right makes it worse. Some might say this is the essence of the competition spirit but I reckon that for training purposes, the repetition buffer can help train stress resilience and limit feelings of frustration brought by some small elements going wrong.

The pressure is still on, the rider still needs to be quick on their feet and minds so the job is definitely being done.

Aisha’s second go at her Elementary test had some of the best canter work I have ever seen her ride so I was very happy for her.

Until I realised she forgot to wear gloves and the 2h we spent setting everything up and filming will need to be repeated 😉

We will sure be remembering that one! Another good lesson there 😉

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