Focus on the Positive, Don't Override

Make your next dressage test the best one yet by staying positive and not overriding.
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Make your next dressage test the best one yet by staying positive and not overriding.

I find a lot of people, when I watch them, do a beautiful warm-up before the show but then they go in the show ring and totally override--trying to get that little extra out of their horse which they've never asked for before. The result is that you'll most likely run into trouble. I've done it in the beginning as well.

?Patty Lasko. All Rights Reserved.

?Patty Lasko. All Rights Reserved.

To ride a better test, make yourself aware that when you're showing, you're actually doing your test ride--it tests the work you've done at home in practice. I find that in order to get the best possible results, I need to concentrate on my test and do it the way I do it at home in practice. Knowing that I've done it well and right 101 times in practice, gives me self-confidence.

This helped me a lot in the 2002 Central American Games. Riding the 12-year-old Dutch mare Inatana Las Marismas, I was in first place in two classes. When I went into the final and looked at the scoreboard, I saw a 70 percent. I'd never gotten a 70 percent before, so I told myself to just relax and do what I knew worked. We won the individual gold medal with 70.95 percent.

Before a show, I actually prepare the whole week because in that week I don't try and correct anything or teach the horse anything new. I just try to improve work on positive aspects, but I don't try and reinforce the negative ones or try to correct them.

For instance, when your horse is not good at walk pirouettes, don't try to improve them. In that week before the show, don't think, "I've got the changes, I've got all the hard stuff, now let me go and work on the walk pirouettes." The only thing you'll end up with is a worn out and upset horse, which will affect you in the test. If you'll come to the pirouettes, they will be so new and fresh for him that you will have to correct them, and that will have a negative effect on your test.

So in the week before the show, don't deal with anything where you have to ride your horse hard or discipline him in any way. If it's not there, it's not there, and you're not going to get it then.

I know that staying relaxed at a show is hard to do, but once you've done it the first time, it gets easier. Just relax and enjoy and be confident about how you're riding in your test. Do what you've been told in your lessons and your ride should feel the same in the ring as it does in practice. I find this plan works and everything falls into place.

Born in Kenya, Africa, Yvonne Losos de Mu?iz studied business at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, before she moved to the Dominican Republic in 1992. With the 12-year-old Dutch mare Inatana Las Marismas, she won the individual gold medal in dressage at the 2002 Central American Games in El Salvador. The pair was also part of the bronze medal winning team at the F?d?ration Equestre Internationale Dressage Championships of the Americas in Blainville, Quebec, Canada. She and her husband, Eduardo, own Las Marismas, a training and sales facility for Dutch warmbloods and Andalusians.