Dressage Test Riding Tips from a Scribe

I began scribing for Dressage Ireland back in 2014, which I volunteered to do in order to learn more about what judges look for in a test, and hopefully get some ideas for schooling at home. I never anticipated to a) enjoy it so much, and b) learn so much! Shows cannot run without volunteers, and the regions are always so grateful for any help that is given.

I had the opportunity to scribe up to PSG level which was really exciting (and terrifying, as the movements come up pretty quickly!), and while I scribed for many different judges, who had different outlooks and preferences, they all still followed the Scales of Training and were consistent in their assessments.

I have learned a lot from scribing over the years, and have tried so many times to write up my key takeaways from my experiences, but I always struggled to keep my insights concise (War and Peace, anyone?!), so my post went unwritten.

Enter Jessica of Team Leroy Eventing.

Jessica recently spent a day Dressage scribing at a 90cm ODE, and took the opportunity to share her learnings from the day in this post. Her insights really resonated with me, and I don’t think I could have done a better job articulating them myself, so (with her permission) I have shared her Top 10 Tips below. I hope you find it useful – #8 is my favourite!

  1. Smile and acknowledge judge and writer – being friendly makes a good impression and relaxes you
  2. Straight, purposeful center line and use your corner at C after your turn
  3. Work on the scales of training, rhythm, suppleness and contact
  4. We’re judging 90, not PSG – don’t worry if you make littler errors
  5. Be careful of shoulders falling out and ride an accurate 20m circle
  6. We want to help you. My judge worked from 10 down, not from 0 up
  7. Forward is better than backwards, in front of your leg!
  8. This tip is a gem – medium walk should be forward enough to go straight into canter. If you can’t canter from your walk; you need more contact
  9. Say thank you at the end of the test
  10. ENJOY IT AND BREATHE!! Your test will be much more fluent if you relax into it. We want to see you enjoy it.

I would highly recommend that you get involved with your local riding club or affiliated dressage body (for me it’s Dressage Ireland) and volunteer to scribe at a show. You’ll learn loads, the judges are always so helpful and will often take the time to elaborate on their markings or give you tips. Be friendly, on time, and helpful, and enjoy!

Natalie xo

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