How to Ride the Introductory Dressage Tests: Part 2

horseback riding for beginners

We looked at how to interpret the numbers and letters on the sheets for Introductory Tests A and B. Now we’ll decipher the test movements and directive ideas.

This is where you’ll realize that even though you may not have taken part in horseback riding for beginners for very long, you can already plan on entering a horse show.

Enter at A
You’ll always enter the arena at A, whichever test you ride. There is a gap for that purpose, so you can’t accidentally go in the wrong way.


In both tests you ‘enter working trot rising.’ During your horseback riding lessons for beginners, you’re learning how to perform the rising trot, and get the horse to ‘track up’  by riding with enough energy for his hind legs to land in the tracks of his forelegs.  In other words, you’re mastering the ‘working trot rising’ required in the test.

The directives, on the far right of the test sheet, tell you what the judge is looking for. In this case, it’s the straightness of your entrance into the arena and the quality of your trot.

This is easily achieved by riding your horse throughout the whole test with energy. Judges have to watch slow-pokes riding one after the other, all day long, which gets very boring for them. You will immediately get on their good side if you show some enthusiasm when you come in!

More energy doesn’t mean faster, it means more active. You’ll find it easy to ride straight if you ride with energy plus your horse will give you a good quality working trot.

Halt Through Medium Walk
Performing movements accurately gets you better marks, so transition your horse smoothly down to an active walk in time to halt at X.
In the medium walk your horse’s hind legs move into the hoof print of his forelegs. If your walk is energetic enough, your horse will halt ‘square’ – with his forelegs and hind legs directly opposite each other.  A square halt gets great marks!

To achieve this, hold the reins against the movement of his walk and let him quietly come to a smooth halt.

While your horse is stationary, put both reins and the whip into one hand, and bow your head while stretching your free arm back across your thigh.
Don’t hold the whip in your saluting hand, as it’s considered bad manners.

Next we’ll look at successfully riding the rest of the test.

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