A study of a variety of different skill-level riders recently found two major observable difference between Grand
Prix dressage riders and the rest of us.
Number One: They spend more time warming up.
On average, a novice rider spends 25 minutes warming up with their horse before a ride. A Gran Prix rider spends 34 minutes on average.
However, the reason for this is that Grand Prix tests require more preparation and effort, so it naturally requires a longer warm up than a novice test. Do the amount of warm-up that feels right for you and your horse but as you progress, remember that skilled and well-trained horses still require proper preparation on the day of a test.
Number two: They have incredibly steady hands.
When a dressage rider is keeping their hands steady, they are extremely skilled at maintaining the distance between their hand and the horse’s bit.
Here’s an amazing fact: that distance will only shift by 1.5cm during a ride. That’s pretty incredible when you consider how much the horse and rider move.
Great dressage riders learn to balance their body with their horse and counteract movements so they can keep their hands extremely steady.
This is something to focus on during training – a steady hand often leads to greater control in general.
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