Oct 20, 2021

10 Tips to Ace Your Dressage Test with Marilyn Payne

USEA/ KTB Creative Group photo.

Marilyn Payne is one of the most experienced and respected ground jury members in eventing. She has adjudicated at every top event in the world, including two Olympic Games. Here are her top tips on how to impress the dressage judges - at any level.

1) I always tell my students that they need to ride in the test exactly like they do in the warm-up or at home. Many people freeze when they enter the ring and are afraid to do anything or to make a correction. Pretending everything is fine doesn’t do any good. Even if you make a mistake in one movement, correcting and ensuring the horse responds means that the following movements will be better.

2) Set out with a positive attitude and expression: “Watch out, judge, here I come!” The same applies to the end of the test. Even if your test hasn’t gone well, looking miserable won’t help. Avoid getting visibly frustrated. Stay positive and remember that the collective marks are awarded after you have finished; if you smile, pat your horse at the end, and make it look like you are happy, subconsciously the judge will think, ‘Well, that wasn’t so bad…” Fake the judge out a bit!

3) Don’t be afraid to make corrections, but don’t make them harshly. Too often riders can’t control themselves, and the horse gets worse. Horses are very sensitive and feel our tension and frustration. Take a deep breath, make a clear, soft correction, and off you go again. Judges appreciate it when riders make corrections and love to give higher scores when the test then keeps improving.

4) Think about your overall presentation. It’s a show - show off your horse’s best qualities. Lots of event horses aren’t fabulous, big movers and never will be, but everyone can train their horses to get high scores for movements such as the halts, center lines, and transitions. Judges are not looking at the quality of the gaits in these movements. School the things you can do well and do them the best you can.

5) So often people don’t properly prepare for transitions; think ahead. Good transitions really make a difference. Not only will it affect the transition’s score but it will also affect the next movement.

6) One movement a lot of riders lose marks for is the walk. In the free walk, you want to get the horse to stretch down, cover ground, and swing through his back. This will only improve the connection and the quality of the gait. Also, too many riders shorten their reins and get tight when they want to go back to medium walk. The only thing that should change in the medium walk is the length of the reins. The quality of the walk and the march remain the same. Don’t overdo it - just walk the walk.

7) Be accurate! Anyone can practice that. Too often you can’t tell the difference between a corner and a 20-meter circle. Be more precise with the size of circles and center lines. Use cones and try to have someone watching; practice riding 10-meter circles in corners. Losing half points for accuracy really adds up.

8) At the end of the test, make sure you halt and stand quietly. A halt should last a minimum of three seconds. It puts polish on the whole test. Also, if you aren’t quite square in the halt, don’t try to correct; moving will only lower the score. If you are very straight the judge cannot tell if you are square or not.

9) Be sure to pick up your tests and read them carefully. Even if you think the judge scored too low, you can definitely learn from the comments. Judges try very hard to give you suggestions to help you improve your ride in the future. They love to see good rides and give high scores, so learn from your test and help make that happen.

10) Keep looking for opportunities to watch tests from the judge's perspective. Try to watch tests from the short side of the arena, sit with judges at clinics or schooling shows, and of course scribe for judges. You will find scribing both eye-opening and very educational. Judges are also very willing to discuss rides with you when they are done for the day.

Hope to see you soon down riding confidently down the centerline!

Nov 28, 2021 USEA Foundation

Where are they now? The Holekamp/Turner Grant Recipients

The Holekamp/Turner Grant was founded in 2015 by Timothy and Cheryl Holekamp of New Spring Farm and Christine and T.J. Turner of Indian Creek Farm. This grant gives a USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championship competitor the opportunity to represent the United States at the FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships in the 7-year-old Championship (a CCIYH3*-L) at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France. The intention of the grant is to further develop an upward pathway for U.S. team horses in the sport of eventing. Grant recipients who are North American bred will be awarded the full cash grant of $17,500. If the winner is an imported horse, he will be awarded $8,000.

Nov 27, 2021 Convention

World Equestrian Brands Joins as Title Sponsor of the USEA Rider of the Year Leaderboard and Contributing Sponsor of the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is thrilled to welcome back World Equestrian Brands as the Title Sponsor of the USEA Rider of the Year Leaderboard for 2021 and 2022. This year’s USEA Rider of the Year will be honored at the 2021 USEA Year-End Awards Ceremony held during the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention on Saturday, Dec. 11 at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque in Albuquerque, New Mexico. World Equestrian Brands will generously provide the winner with a prize of $500 in value. Next year, the USEA Rider of the Year will be recognized during the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention which will take place in Savannah, Georgia on Dec. 7-11, 2022.

Nov 27, 2021 Classic Series

Slaughter, Berry, and Shade Conclude 2021 Season with Wins in Fresno Classic Three-Day Event

What better way to draw the competition season to a close than with a win in a USEA Classic Series division? Three competitors did just that on the weekend of November 17-18 at the Fresno Horse Park in Fresno, California.

Nov 26, 2021 Convention

Rebecca Farm Returns as Gold Level Sponsor for the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the renewed partnership with Rebecca Farm. Rebecca Farm will return as a Gold Level Sponsor of the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention and will be the exclusive sponsor for the Annual Meeting continental breakfast. This year’s Annual Meeting & Convention will take place at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque in Albuquerque, New Mexico on December 9-12, 2021.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Outerwear of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Horse Clothing of the USEA