I often hear from clients that they keep having the same errors or points off when they perform their freestyles at a show. So, I came up with this list of suggestions for common mistakes to AVOID when practicing your musical freestyle… and it’ll help your test score when you bring this same ride to a show!
- Practice your freestyle and pattern in a regulation size dressage arena. I can’t tell you how many times a rider has been caught off guard because they have been practicing their pattern and timing in the wrong size arena! If your arena is just a few meters too short or too wide, your timing for being in the right place at the right time in your freestyle will be skewed.
- Leave enough room on your finale center line for being ahead of your music. There is nothing worse than running out of arena, and ending up in the judges laps after G and there is still music playing!
- Make sure you know the exact requirements for the level that you are competing. If you are competing at first level, you must include all of the requirements for first level. You must also make sure you know which movements are required on both sides!
- Don’t chase your music. If you are behind in your music or ahead of your music, you must think quickly. You should have a plan of where you could cut a corner, or add a circle, or go deeper in a serpentine for example, to help get you back on track.
- If you have a movement that may be particularly hard for you or your horse, you should try to allow two places in your freestyle to do it. For example, if you are not sure you will get your 3 tempi’s in your fourth level freestyle; create a place in the pattern that you could do it a second time. If your terrific the first time around, don’t try them again and risk lowering your score! Instead, do an extended canter, or other movement that you know you will do well to keep that technical score up!