CREATING YOUR OWN RULES FOR DRESSAGE -‘Gamification’ or the PSG Challenge!

Richard creates his own rules to enjoy and have fun with his dressage

The ‘Gamification’ of Dressage or the PSG Challenge!

Richard Neale dressage1
In 2015, whilst looking for a new challenge, Richard and his horse came across ‘Dressage Anywhere’, an online video dressage competition which predominately uses British Dressage list 1 judges that gives you the opportunity to compete from home and progress at your own pace. This was just what Richard needed to kick start his dressage training and get back on track. He spoke with his coach, Lisa Morris BHSI, and together they decided it would be a great addition to work along side their lessons, enabling them to track progress and get additional feedback.

Rich continues: 

After a short while I realised that I was creating my own additional rules of how I wanted to progress and I soon became aware that I was using Dressage Anywhere like a computer game, my imagination clicked in and together with my trusty steed Tommy The Horse, I would battle our way through the levels in our efforts to save Valegro from Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada. We must defeat the boss and transport Valegro to Rio in time to win gold at the Olympic Games.

OK, so that's not quite what I meant. But on a simpler level, with the aid of ‘Dressage Anywhere’, I had a plan for the ‘gamification’ of dressage. Like a computer game, the idea is to have a score you must obtain before being able to move up to the next level. If on the way you qualify for a championship class this would be a bonus level. As with a computer game, each level is progressively harder than the previous one until you reach the ultimate goal, successful completion of level 7 – Prix St Georges.

The rules of the game are simple. You start at level 1, Intro, to move up to level 2, Prelim, you must score 65% or more over three times in a row or over 70% twice. You apply this rule for moving up each level in turn until you complete level 7, Prix St George, with 3 scores in a row over 65%. Once you manage this you will have defeated the evil Xur and rescued Valegro... errrrh sorry didn't mean to slip back in to my game, but it certainly makes it fun when using a little bit of imagination.

My targets for this year are to qualify for the BD Associate Member Online Championships run by Dressage Anywhere at Prelim and Novice.  I hope I can do this by the summer, then on with my leveling up.  If I end the year getting to Elementary level and scoring well I will be very happy.

Richard Neale dressage2
So, what are you all waiting for! Come and join in this fun game and see how far you can get in a year or more!

To test my theory out I ran my idea past a few friends and got mixed reactions. Below are just a few of the questions asked and the answers given: 

Q. Shouldn't you compete at a level below the level you are training at? 

A. No, not in this instance. I am doing this to aid training so the feedback needs to be at the level I am training at. I understand in showjumping and eventing there are safety reasons for this idea but this is not the case in dressage. If I travel to a competition then yes I will be competing at a lower level than I am training at, but for the PSG challenge it is all about pushing my self to higher levels.

Q. You know you are unlikely to ever get to Prix St Georges level? 

A. This could be true but it will be fun finding out. It might be that Tommy the Horse just isn't Prix St George’s material in which case I will have to think of plan B later, but at the moment we are scoring over 60% at Novice and there is plenty of room for improvement. I'd rather have this as a challenge than in five years time look back and see I am still trying to perfect Prelim.

Q. Don't you think you should wait until you win before you move up? 

A. No, I am in competition with myself, if I win it will feel good I am sure but that's not the reason why I am doing this, as I said above I am using it as a training aid and to create  a new opportunity to learn new things and push myself to achieve higher levels.

Q. It sounds easy and I think I cold do it no worries?

A. Please do! The more the merrier, I'd love there to be more people take on this challenge with me, it would be fun to have other people to chat to about progress and what aims we have each month.

Q. You do realise that even if you do manage to do a Prix St George’s test it’s not real, this isn't proper dressage? 

A. I know this isn't affiliate competitions and that doing a dressage test at your own yard is always going to be easier than at a real competition because it’s a much lower stress environment. But as I said above, this is a training exercise and tool and the feedback from the BD level 1 judges is incredibly useful to me and my horse.

Q. I’d love to try but I don’t have a school? 

A. If you have a yard with a school in hacking distance then they maybe happy to hire it to you.

Q. I’d love to try but I don’t have a horse?

A.  May be your local riding school will be able to give you a monthly private lesson so you can video your test.  Your riding school my be interested in setting up a Dressage Anywhere team to take part in their team competition.

Remember, it is important thing to have fun and enjoy whilst learning and improving. Supply Richard with his riding clothing and footwear and - Supply Richard with his riding protection.
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