To Compete or not to Compete?

The rider must always strive to hone his skills in order to reveal his capable and subtle communication to the horse. The horse in turn will display the energetic hindquarters and elastic connection over its back to the bit. Correct practice will prepare horse and rider better; repeating an exercise poorly will not.”

Gabriel Armando FEI 4* Judge

That is what it is all about. I must hone my skills to communicate with Biasini so that he can have active hindquarters and an elastic connection to the bit. That is what will improve our test scores.

Know your geometry and be aware of how your horse feels – don’t just ride the movement!”

Lorraine Macdonald Equestrian Canada Senior dressage judge. Retired FEI 4* judge

Be aware of how your horse feels. I must be able to tell, from where I am sitting, how Biasini is going and what I need to do to get him ready for the next movement.

The marks are awarded for the quality of the gait and throughness, and lastly the execution of the movement.”

Lee Tubman FEI 4* Judge

It is how the horse is going that will get good marks . It is not just executing the movement. It is all about how we execute the movement.

The judges will always be looking for a rider who has a good connection with horse’s mouth, and this can only occur if the rider also has good contact with the seat and legs.”

Cesar Torrente FEI 4* Judge

My position is of paramount importance . My seat and legs must be in the right place to give Biasini the aids and the instructions about what he is to do . If my position is correct and I am using my seat and legs then he will be light in my hands and not pulling me out of the tack.

Four FEI 4* judges have given their opinion on how riders can improve their scores at the higher level dressage tests. Can I do all those things? Yes, but not quite consistently enough. So if I went into the show ring there would be moments when my connection or Biasini’s level of activity or his frame will be lost and then I have to struggle to get it back. Biasini and I have lots of show miles and we have always had reasonable scores. But until I can be absolutely solid in the work that my coach Belinda Trussell has been working on with us, for the last year, there is not much point in going into the show ring. I am not quite there yet. Close but not solid enough to go down a centerline in a show.

We are working on it, we will get it and then we can enter at A with confidence.


6 responses to “To Compete or not to Compete?”

  1. David Avatar

    It is a good training option to have. The daughters, when they became juniors, Trish didn’t allow them to compete for a little more than a year. They weren’t allowed to compete in those small, Saturday afternoon club shows between barns. Their only riding was in the practice ring. Also, they did a lot of off-saddle work watching their own training videos, what they did right, what they did wrong, and learn how to fix their own mistakes. It was a quite intensive learning curve. Elizabeth threatened to quit a bunch of times, but always came back for her lesson the next day. Deborah “quit” twice, Tara “quit” four times. When they came back, they both lost their spurs for several weeks. It is a good process to go through since it makes you into a better rider. You become more fundamentally sound.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      I am at the opposite end of the age spectrum David as you know. Belinda does not respect my age at all.😅 She says she does not see any reason to go easy on me. I agree with you that taking the focus off showing and keeping it on refining my riding is the best way to go And…..I will not be quitting because in my case it is ” if not now then when”? Thanks for your comment. I found it very encouraging.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anne Sandler Avatar

    I can’t wait to read that you’ve done it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      I am working toward it but to keep all the pieces together for an upper level test is a big task. We are working on it. Thanks for your positive comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. firnhyde Avatar

    Once we’re past the point of getting a young horse to settle about showing, my coach is also definitely an advocate for not showing too much. Monthly shows are a nice idea, but they’re just too much! You spend all your time test riding and not working on the basics. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a break from competition in order to do that. Thanks for collecting these words of wisdom, Anne. It’s encouraging that even an upper-level rider like you sometimes needs to wait a little before picking out a show to go to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      It makes sense to me. Usually at this time of year I am riding test patterns to prepare for showing in Florida over the winter and going to a couple of shows here to try those tests out . My coach here Belinda Trussell has a terrific attention to detail. For example a flying change may be clean-but was it uphill enough. What happened coming out of the change? Did he get long, lower his poll, lose the frame he had before the change? This are all things I am still working on. Thanks for your horseperson’s knowledgeable comment.


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