You know how it is — you practice your forthcoming dressage test at home and your horse is impeccably well behaved. You then go to a competition and he proceeds to jog in the walk movements. It’s a gutting feeling, so to help you out here’s some useful advice to try and keep any jogging at bay.
- Get out and about
Some horses are just lacking in confidence while out competing and therefore this comes across in a dressage test as excitability and tension. This can often be exposed as the horse will jog in the walk. To help overcome this, take your horse out to plenty of different environments — not necessarily always competitions, even hiring out an arena away from home is a great exercise to help your horse settle in alien environments.
- Ensure your horse is on the correct aids
Sometimes going back to basics is the best answer. The trot aid is very similar to that of the walk aid, so make sure you are clear from the start how the two differ. It can be useful to ride a slight shoulder-in while training to encourage your horse to accept your inside leg while in walk, rather than running away from it.
- Don’t always practice going from free walk to medium to trot or canter
It is also important while schooling at home that you don’t always make a transition from free walk to medium walk and then straight into trot or canter, as you might do in a test. Instead make sure that you include plenty of free walk>walk>halt>walk>free-walk transitions and so on. By mixing it up, you will help prevent your horse from anticipating an upwards transition and therefore jogging.
- Take a deep breath
Remember that you, as the rider, also needs to stay relaxed to give your horse the best possible chance of also staying relaxed in the arena. So take a deep breath and enjoy it — if it doesn’t go to plan, there’s always another day.
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