How to Boost Your Dressage Scores

Guest post by Christa from

Going to shows is always more or less nerve wrecking, but there are ways you can lessen your nervousness and bathroom breaks (due to nervous bladder or course). Dressage tests and going to competitions are always a great way to do a reality check on what level you’re actually on and what you need to work on at home.

Judges always have their own opinions, and sometimes they differ from each other, so you can’t make every judge like you, however, their advice is something you should always take seriously, if you want to improve.

Also, as mentioned, you can’t make everyone like you, but there are certain things that will automatically boost your scores. They’re very simple, and everyone can follow them.

1. Plan ahead.
You should always make a schedule ahead. Make sure you’ll have some leeway in the schedule in case your horse has a difficult day with your trailer, if you drive in the wrong direction or anything else unfortunate happens. Planning ahead also includes learning your test in advance. A good way to learn it is to “walk” it on your livingroom carpet, or even in the dressage arena WITHOUT your horse. Think if every corner and every turn.

2. Brush, brush, brush and clean
Make sure your horse looks FLAWLESS. Mane should be perfect, tail brushed, and all tack should be cleaned. This also applies to you: make sure your outfit is on point. This doesn’t require any skills, but it makes a great impression on the judges.

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3. Smile
Smile when you salute in the beginning and at the end. No matter how lousy your day is or how badly the test went, always smile and praise your horse. Judges appreciate that.

4. Center line
Practice riding on the center line, halting and saluting. If you make the first entrance perfect, the judges automatically have a more positive image of you, even if the rest of the test wasn’t as good.

5. Watch others
Watch what others do. The good and the bad. What do the good riders do differently?

6. Details
In the dressage test, there is NO TIME ever to relax and not ride. Every corner should be ridden, as a corner is usually a preparation to something, whether it’s a lengthening, shoulder-in or something else. Every single step should be accounted for. Riding every corner perfectly boosts your points for sure.

These are only a few things to consider, but they can increase your scores a ton.

Christa is a professional dressage rider and a full-time writer. She has trained with Olympic riders such as Terhi Stegars and Piia Pantsu, and worked as a rider and groom all over the world. Christa grew up in Finland, but now lives in New York City. After 5 years break from horseback riding due to an accident, she’s finally back on track and aiming to get back to international competitions as soon as possible! Read more about Christa and her journey on and follow her on Instagram @piaffestyle and Twitter @ piaffe_style

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