Last weekend I was lucky enough to get to ride in the California Dressage Society’s annual Symposium. The panel of presenters was Mike Osinki, Jan Curtis, Melissa Creswick, and Hilda Gurney. I rode 4th Level Test 2 with Kensington and the Grand Prix with Natasha and got feedback from these judges. Here were my biggest takeaways from the event.
Ride the horse you have: Dressage is not all about winning and getting the highest score. It is about the partnership and the bond that you have with your horse. It is more important to give your horse confidence and to ride with harmony and feel than to win.
Focus on your position: You must sit up straight, keep your heels down, and ride with subtle and effective aids. The judges DO take this into account and it does matter. Throughout the day, the judges made small changes and tweaks that did end up making a big difference in the horses and the overall presentation. After all – only a rider in the correct position can give the correct aids!
Judges Judge to a Standard: The same 1-10 scale applies whether you’re Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro or it is your first time competing at a small local show. So don’t get too discouraged by a “low” score. Mr. Osinki also mentioned something that I did not know called a fire wall. In my Grand Prix Test on Natasha, I had a counting mistake in the canter half pass zig zag. He gave me a five and explained that if there is a mistake in a movement, the judge must give a 5 – even if the basics are correct and the overall impression of the horse is good.
I want to thank the California Dressage Society for putting together this wonderful event. There were over 350 spectators – even though it was wet and rainy! It is so important for the sport that we continue to learn and support these educational events! I was honored to participate in the event and it was a great experience for my horses.
PS- Want to see the full videos of my rides from this weekend? Support me on Patreon to see those videos and more behind the scene footage.