MARK BUTLER DRESSAGE - The Road to the Regional s Dressage -Mental Preparation

Mark butler_logo
Meet Mark Butler - Dressage Trainer and Rider 

Mark is a freelance dressage trainer and rider who will be sharing many of his great tips and quick pieces of advice over the coming months.

Mark is A Group 3 rider, who has previously evented up to Intermediate level before turning his attentions to dressage. He is a classically trained rider having been fortunate enough to train with the likes of Klaus Balkenhol, Charles Du Kunfey, Arthur Kottas, Stephen Clarke and Emile Faurie. Mark is renowned for his patience and calmness and works with a wide range of riders and horses of all levels from Novice to PSG, offering excellent and focused training with a sympathetic approach. He has trained to Grand Prix level and his current competition horse Feureblitz, a 9-year-old graded Westphalian stallion, is currently working at Prix St Georges level at home and competing at Medium level. 

Mark Butler_-_Blitz_at_Hickstead

Part 1

The Road to the Regionals Dressage -Mental Preparation with Mark Butler 
In the run up to a big competition like the Regionals or Nationals, I start to learn my tests paying particular attention to each individual movement.

I mentally run through them in my head making sure I know exactly where I am going and thinking about any particular movement that I know my horse may find difficult.

This way I can work through any issues or problems beforehand at home, often the key to successful test riding is the ability to ride cleverly and ensure that the test flows. Knowing exactly when and where you should be, means that you can present a movement to the best of your ability and this can be the difference between a 6 or a 7.
I always look for the positives in my horse's work and do not dwell on the things they are not so good at. Every horse has a weakness but I try to maximize their strengths, one of my horses has a modest medium trot but he has super rhythm and balance and I make sure that this is evident throughout the test.
I have in the past worked with an NLP practitioner and a Sports Psychologist. These have both helped me to order my thoughts and process the important things as opposed to the those that are distracting!

Using techniques suggested by them both I envisage myself riding the perfect test and thinking about the tools I need to do this, that way when I am in the arena and riding I know I can make adjustments without panicking if things go wrong.
If I have been doing flying changes with a horse but these are not required in their test then I tend to avoid doing them in the run-up to a competition, there is no room for error and untimely flying changes can not only affect individual movement marks it can also impact on the collectives for submission.
Mark butler_rossettesThe horse's routines don't alter and I do the same things with them that I would do regardless of the fact they are going to a competition, for example we have a very sharp horse that lives out at night, he will go out just the same as always. I always ride them the day before their test, even if it is just some simple, slow suppling work, to ensure that I don't have to deal with any unnecessary high jinks on the day of the competition.

And above all else remember it is a great achievement to have qualified for regional Championship, try to enjoy the moment!
Good Luck