Your comprehensive guide to dressage test and how to remember it!

But first - what is a dressage?

Dressage is a French term, translated to mean “training” and is a form of horse riding that is performed in a competition As an equestrian sport defined by the International Equestrian Federation, dressage is described as "the highest expression of horse training" where "horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.

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What are the dressage test levels?

There are several levels of dressage, starting from Intro, the lowest level of a dressage test where the test is in walk and trot. Intro dressage could be suitable for beginners.

Followed by Prelim, where canter is introduced. After that its Novice, then Elementary, followed by Medium, onto Advanced Medium.

The higher levels of dressage are Advanced, Prix St George, Intermediate I, Intermediate II and Grand Prix.

Each level is made up of a number of tests that you can work through, each test is unique with tests within the same level sharing the same movements.

How do scores in dressage tests work?

In a nutshell, a dressage test is made up of a series of movements and each movement is awarded a mark out of 0 to 10 by a dressage judge, with half marks being used where appropriate.

You can score a 0 for a movement, but that is only if you fail to show that movement altogether.

Each mark correlates to a predetermined standard that all registered judges are trained to observe.

The current scale of marking is:

0 = not performed

1 = very bad

2 = bad

3 = fairly bad

4 = insufficient

5 = sufficient

6 = satisfactory

7 = fairly good

8 = good

9 = very good

10 = excellent

Collective marks

The final four marks on the sheet relate to the “collective marks:” paces, impulsion, submission, and rider.

These marks are arrived and based on the competitor’s overall performance during the test.

Again, these are given a score out of 10 based on the scale of marking above. These scores are often then doubled, for example, if you were awarded a 7 for your horse’s paces, this would then total 14 points.

At the end of the test, all the marks are added together and turned into a percentage where the highest percentage wins.

For eventing, the dressage percentage is then converted into penalties simply by subtracting the percentage from 100. For example, if you scored 65% on your dressage test, this would equate to an eventing penalty of 35. (100 – 65 = 35)

Now you know – what dressage means, what the levels are and how they are scored. But the million-dollar question...? How do you remember a dressage test?