Dressage test tips for maximizing your scores.
This blog post is more aimed at competitors at the grass roots level, just coming through grade 6, 5 and 4 or Prep and Prelim level, some little bits of advice I think are useful, from a person who often stands next to the open car window of dressage judges on comp day.
5 ways you're throwing points away
You're wasting your exit.
There's a potential 10 points to be gained from a lovely calm exit that utilizes the entire track and demonstrates an unhurried exit from the arena. Your exit could well make the difference between winning a class and finishing in the bottom! Don't throw those points away. I've heard way too many judges say "a beautiful test, but they threw away the exit."
Keeping a good rhythm is the backbone of your dressage test. No matter the gait, you should feel a rhythm that's steady and unchanging through the motions. Perhaps practice with music, even just singing a song to yourself that matches the rhythm you're aiming to keep.
Along a similar line to rhythm, tempo plays a major part in your test giving a smooth feel to the observer. When there are tempo changes, they should feel seamless and not jarring at all, in all ways very deliberate.
Pay attention to what the coefficient movements are, and practice them the most.
It'll add up the points (or deductions) very quickly.
I know it's rough, Dressage is a sport that seems to invoke a lot of stress amongst athletes. Try not to forget about the little things, the very basic things, and make sure you know them in the first place. Invest in your training as much as you invest in your partner's training. Poor form and lack of education is as detrimental to the test from the rider as it is from your partner. I've found that if you invest in quality coaches, the results speak for themselves very quickly.