How to Learn & Remember Your Dressage Test

I don’t know about you guys, but I actually find remembering my dressage tests quite easy (maybe the fact they’re only short arena prelim tests could have something to do with it…). I can quickly get my head around the main movements and transitions and then I just have to spend a bit of time remembering any specific markers for transitions – you know, the finer details. But, I am sure this is something that some people could find tricky, especially when you have the pressure of a competition on top too!

So, I thought I would share with you the way I remember my test but also a few other methods that I thought might be useful.

1. Visualise Riding The Test Movement By Movement (If you have a photographic memory this is a winner!)

I am super lucky, I have a photographic memory, so this is probably my ‘go to’ method for remembering a test. I read through the test and as I read each section I visualise myself in the arena, riding down the centre line, tracking left etc. Once I have read through once and visualised it as I go, I can then go back from memory and visualise the test and remember it. I do have to do this a few times, and keep checking up on it but it is pretty much stuck up there!!

2. Highlight!! 

Again, perhaps this is another visual method (sorry if you don’t have a photographic memory!) but hey, you can use pink highlighter so thats a bonus. Take a copy of your test sheet and grab your fav highlighter colour, the brighter the better. Then highlight the letter marker and the the key words that let you know the movement. For example, ‘E’ ‘Circle left 20m diameter, give and retake over X’, I would highlight, E, Circle 20m, Give, Retake, X. This breaks down the long winded and sometimes confusing test sheet into easy to read and remember segments.

3. Clear some space… and dance around your living room

If nothing else, this is hilarious and will give anyone you live with a good laugh. Or if like me you have a dog who always wants to join in on your fun, this can be quite tricky and involve nearly falling arse over tit… Grab your test sheet and walk out the movements in your lounge. Walk for walk, trot for trot and canter for canter. You’ll look really silly, but it should help you to actually remember which direction your going, as if you were riding it! Get someone to read it out the first time, and then try to ‘perform your test’ with someone who can shout at you if you get it wrong. (If you try this, I would love to see your videos it would brighten my day, so please share).

4. Draw it Out 

I think this is a popular one! Read and try to memorise the test, turn the test sheet over and then try to draw out the test on a piece of paper. Once you’ve finished it will look a total mess of confusing squiggles, but whilst you’re doing it, it’ll make perfect sense.

I would LOVE to know your methods for learning and remembering your test, do you do any of the above? Do you have a totally different and unique method? If you are riding at higher levels, I would love to know your thoughts too.

As always, a huge thank you for checking in.


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