Dressage has never been so popular with more and more people becoming hooked on the sport. You don’t have to aspire to ride at Grand Prix level to enjoy schooling your horse at home. However, it is nice to go to a competition where you can have your hard work assessed by a knowledgeable and qualified judge, and maybe even feature in the ribbons!
Unfortunately, attending competitions can be problematic for some people. Not everyone lives within easy traveling distance of event venues and transport is expensive while some horses simply won’t entertain being put in a horse box or trailer. Many horses become extremely excited when taken out to a ‘party’ so all your hard work goes up in smoke the minute you enter the arena. Fortunately, competition is still available in the form on ‘virtual dressage’ events and many riders are now able to reap the rewards for their hard work and dedication through entering online dressage competitions.
Here are some tips on how to make a great virtual dressage video:
Although you don’t have to wear the full competition regalia, it does create a good impression for the judge if you look smart. Make sure your horse is clean, nicely groomed and if you have time, plait him up. Wear clean breeches and a smart jumper or jacket and hat.
Make sure you learn the test thoroughly and if you think you might forget where you’re going, ask someone to call it out for you. Be accurate and make sure your circles are the right size and in the right place. If the test asks for a 15m circle at ‘A’; don’t ride an 18m egg that is nowhere near the marker! Remember that you have the chance to film as many retakes as you like, so if you make a mistake, just start again!
It’s important that the arena you use to film your test in is the right size. It stands out a mile to the judge if you’ve used an arena that is a couple of meters too big to make things easier for yourself! If you don’t have a fenced arena, don’t worry. Use spaced-out jump poles or even white rope lain on the ground to mark out the arena boundary. Dressage markers are not expensive or you could make your own using old traffic cones or empty biscuit tins. Stride out the distances between the markers as accurately as possible.
Filming the Test
The test must be filmed from the judge’s eye view at ‘C’. If you don’t have the camera pointing straight down the center line, you will appear crooked or to the right or left, rather than straight, and you’ll lose marks unnecessarily. Make sure that the focus is adjusted properly so that you are always in shot and not blurred. The judge does not want to see an ant in the distance or a fuzzy image that keeps disappearing from view. If possible, fix your camera to a tripod so that the image doesn’t wobble. You want a film that’s crisp and clear and not something out of the Blair Witch Project!
Try to make sure that there are no distractions while you ride your test. I judged one recently where there were two ducks waddling around the arena while the lady was riding her test, and a small dog trotting in and out too!
Submitting Your Entry
Make sure you get your entry in before the closing date and if you’ve had several attempts at recording the perfect test, check that you’ve submitted the correct version.
Video dressage is great fun and is a really good way of ‘competing’ with your horse even if you can’t get to real competitions. Take the time to produce a really good video to give your every chance of success.
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