DRESSAGE TRAINING - Improve your dressage scores with practice and rehearsal

Practice and Rehearsal – Know the difference

As a musician Rich was made aware of the difference between practice and rehearsal.  On the surface the two words may sound the same but they represent distinctly different roles for the musician.  Rich explains how he applies the distinct difference between practice and rehearsal to his dressage training.

Rich neale band member
As a musician I want to be able to give a perfect performance.  The way you build up to this is very important, even more so when you are in a band.  Whilst in a band in the 1990’s one of my fellow band members said to someone “Their problem is they don’t know the difference between practice and rehearsal.”   I didn’t like to admit it, but at that point neither did I.  So I asked what they meant, the reply was “practice is what you do alone so that you can play as well as you can before you start rehearsals.”

Practice is where you perfect the technical side of playing your instrument and where you learn the music you want to play.  Rehearsal is where you turn what you have learnt in to a performance.

So to apply this to dressage, practice is where you work on the technical aspects of your riding and what is required of you in your test – the shapes, the transitions, the contact, etc.  Then once you have those things sorted you learn your test – for me this starts in the front room with no horse in sight and school letters on ‘post it’ notes stuck to the walls.

Rehearsal is where you run through your test at your yard, working on the correctness of the whole test and making sure it flows perfectly.  As in music we also have dress rehearsals, these are usually the final rehearsal which is at the venue of the performance and should be as close to the final performance as possible.  With in dressage you might be able to hire the competition venue you are to use, or just hack to a friends yard, so you can recreate a bit more of the feel of the competition day so you are as prepared for the final day as you possibly can be.

In my next competition I will be riding the British Dressage Novice 27 test.  For my practice I examined the test and identified the list of technical aspects I needed to practice.  They are:

•Trot – Walk for one horse’s length – Trot transitions

•Changing rein in trot with a half 10m circle from E to X and then a half 10m circle from X to B

•Giving and retaking the reins while cantering along the long side

•Showing medium trot strides on the long diagonal

•Free walk on a long rein over the long diagonal

•Trot to halt on the centre line
 Rich neale dressage May 2016
Once we are happy with our practice of these we then move on to rehearsal.   We ride the entire test as one single entity.  

If I make a mistake I start from the beginning again – I do not want to learn my mistakes, I want to learn from them.

 On the Saturday before the test I will ride the test as if it is the competition day, my horse will wear the tack I will use and I will wear my riding boots and show jacket and jodhpurs.  

I will have a friend video this so I can check back that night to see if I rode the whole test as correctly as I can.

My practice and rehearsal regime certainly helped as Tommy and I scored our highest ever dressage score of 73.5% for P7 in April.
www.mountainhorse.co.uk Supply Richard with his riding clothing and footwear and www.championhats.co.uk - Supply Richard with his riding protection.