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How To Score High - EA Dressage Tests

How to Ride a EA Dressage Test & Receive a good score

1) Prepararation

Make sure you sign up for a test within your abilities. Train with a dressage coach on a regular basis to get advise from an experienced trainer on the ground. Make a plan with your coach on how to prepare for your test, practice your weaknesses on a weekly basis. Even the easiest tests requires a balanced horse that can perform walk trot and canter in a relaxed manner.

2) Warm-up

A lot of riders get nervous on the day and warm up for too long. Make sure you familiarise your horse with the area, however don't warm up for too long to make the 'horse tired' as this won't benefit you in the show ring. A warm up between 20-40minutes is usually enough. Ride each gait and bring a cach or a friend that can keep a track of time and let you know how far off you are. It is usually a good idea to have a last canter and trot in each gait right before going in.

3) Relax

The overall impression is the most important aspect a dressage judge looks at, is there harmony between the horse and rider? Is the horse relaxed, calm and comfortable? A horse in a steady rythm with his head high and not collected will score better than a horse that works in a frame but looses rhythm is unsteady or unbalanced.

4) Work on Transitions

Transitions, transitions, transitions -  you've heard it all before. There is a reason to why all coaches ask you to do lots of exercises with transitions. Transitions makes the horse carry themselves without leaning on the bit and helps them work through their back and hold them more through their back legs.

5) Match the horse with a suitable rider

Alot of people try to re-train young/inexperienced horses in a new discipline even though the rider does not have the knowledge and experience to do so. Do NOT buy a green horse just because its cheap and beautiful, go for an older schoolmaster that can teach you the basics before trying to train a green young horse.

The Basics of EA dressage tests

Dressage competitions involve a number of movements on horses that are already determined to be ridden in a chronological order. These movements are usually performed in a 20 x 60 meters area arena. Occasionally, an arena of area 20 x 40 meters is also chosen depending on the requirements. Throughout the arena - 12  letters are placed that are more like an indication of the starting point of the movements, the finish points, the points where the pace has to be changed, or the lead has to be taken. Every dressage competition, in general, involves a horse to display three different paces. These paces include walking trotting and cantering.

There are a number of tests in Australia that are set up by the Equestrian Australia national federation. These tests vary in difficulty and range from beginner level to an advanced level. Beyond that, the other tests that include the FEI tests are those that are conducted on a national level.

There is an official competition arranged by EA that hosts over 21 seniors, 10-21 young riders and about 10 pony riders. Every state hosts inter-school competitions that make use of the dressage tests as they are set by EA. Typically, there are three types of EA dressage types that include:

  • Dressage tests for beginners
  • Dressage tests for intermediate riders
  • Dressage tests for advanced riders.


    Photo: Flickr

      How often are the EA Dressage tests updated?

      While there is no fixed date set for updates for these tests - they are constantly under review and do get updated quite regurarly. For instance, the last update for the EA Dressage tests was made on July 1, 2018. 

      What to think about before your first dressage test?

      Competing in dressage can be quite daunting as it is a spectator sport where every single move is judged, and you are trying to perform at your peak while being nervous together with a 500kg live animal so there are a lot of things that can go wrong. 

      Make sure you study your test in detail and know it inside and out, there is nothing worse than forgetting your test in the middle of riding it.

      Manage your time wisely and make sure you arrive early on the competition day to familiarise yourself with the surroundings and find out where your warm-up and competition ring is and whether there are any scratched riders. In short, you should be taking each and every precaution so as to let things flow smoothly.


      Photo: Flickr

      As far as the dress code goes, usually, you will be required to wear a short coat that is usually black or navy blue in color with white breeches or jodhpurs. Along with this, you will also be required to wear a tie and a stock. In summer however, coats are not always necessary to wear.