Written by Jane Critchley - List 1 judge, judge educator, BDCC L3 Coach and Coach Educator, and International Rider.

I've worked with Jane since the start of 2024, and already had the privilege of photographing her and her horses at home and attending various BD and Denstone Stud camps. Jane has an amazing and kind way of working with horses that's divine to watch, and I'm so excited she took the time to share some of her top tips with me and you.

As an experienced dressage judge and coach, these are the top 5 things I think every rider can implement to see an increase in their dressage score straight away.

Know Your Arena. 

Knowing the size of your arena goes a long way in producing an accurate test. Make sure you know how far apart the letters are in the size arena you're riding in, and where they're placed around the arena. This helps you ride more accurately, and therefore helps you eek out those extra marks when producing a great dressage test.

Looking for a little extra help with your test riding?

Know Your Test. 

You should know your dressage test like the back of your hand - not only will this relieve the stress of knowing where you're going (especially when you're nervous on show day), but understanding where each movement starts and finishes can help you ride each section to its fullest potential.

Remember as well, if you do make a mistake it's only one movement. Focus on the next movement and do your best through the rest of your test.

Preparation Is Key.

Understand the preparation and process for each movement - build this into your visualisation and test riding sessions. Practising your test in your mind and in real life helps to turn movements into muscle memory. Make sure your horse is prepared for the next movement to make transitions smoother and more accurate.

Arrive In Plenty Of Time.

This is a huge step to keeping stress levels at a minimum on show day. There's nothing worse than arriving late and realising you've forgotten something and letting the day spiral out of control. Arrive early, check the layout of the competition, check the show is running on time, and if they're early or late adjust your plan accordingly.

Is there plenty of room ro ride around the arena before your start your test? Which rein will you enter on? Knowing all these things will make you feel more relaxed as you head towards the centre line.

Also remember to check in with the show secretary and show your passport if needed.

Looking for a little extra help with your test riding?

Check In With The Steward.

I always like to check in with the steward when I get to the warm up arena. Make a note of who is in before you and how many are still to go. Have a warm up plan which has flexibility, and remember to always stick to the warm up rules (left to left, no walking or halting on the outside track etc).

So there you have it, my top 5 tips to improving your dressage scores this year.

Wishing you best of luck for your next test!

If you need a little extra help and would like some coaching with Jane at Denstone Stud or any of her camps or clinics, visit her facebook page and get in touch with her there.

Looking for a little extra help with your test riding?

Sign up to my mailing list to stay up to date with all the latest news, offers & more.