Tip of the day

Tip of the Day – a pat in a test

Laura gave Alf a lovely little pat mid test -  though it was a bit more subtle than this one!

Laura gave Alf a lovely little pat mid test – a bit more subtle than this one!

Most people get all hung up on producing a perfect ‘performance’ in a dressage test, however this can lead to ‘trying-too-hard’ syndrome and cause tenseness in both horse and rider. I’ve recently been taking a baby 4yo out to his first tests (E-Venting’s project pony Reggie) and haven’t been afraid to give him a little pat mid-test when he does something particularly well. So long as you don’t drop your contact on both reins it’s quite easy just to slide a hand forward a couple of inches and give a little ‘well done’ pat during a movement – for example when he got his canter strike-offs right in his first prelim.

I’ve also done the same with my older horse when he’s done something well that he finds difficult, like a walk pirouette. If your horse is tense it can dissipate the tension and cause it to relax for a few strides and it helps ‘break the spell’ a little for the rider too. It’s only maybe once a test every few tests, but can make a huge difference. If it was good enough for Laura Bechtolsheimer at the Olympics…

Photo Katie Mortimore Photography

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The Eventing Vet