As a rider, you may have already heard about online dressage competitions. Discover the: who, how, why, where and what’s, as our Equestrian PR Team speak to Ruth Chappell, Co-Founder & Co-Owner of online dressage portal, Dressage Anywhere for a ‘Dummies Guide To Competing In Dressage Online’.
Who Are Your Judges?
We have 52 British Dressage Judges on our panel. Of these 27 are List 1 judges, the most experienced judges who judge Grand Prix tests at Championships.
Who Can Compete?
Anyone can compete! We have a whole variety of competitors taking part. From grassroots Introductory dressage right through to more experienced PSG riders. The majority of our entries come from Intro-Elementary riders, although the higher levels are growing in numbers.
How Do I Register & Ride A Test?
Registering with Dressage Anywhere is free and once you’re a member, you’ll receive regular updates about all of our competitions and access to our private Facebook Members Group for support and inspiration.
You’ll need to enter a competition online. If you’re not sure what level you should ride, you need to assess where you are in your schooling and training. If you’re very new to dressage, have a look at the Introductory (walk and trot) and Preliminary (walk, trot and canter) levels. If you’re a more established dressage rider, then you’ll know what level you should be entering. Dressage Anywhere schedules include a summary of the movements so you can assess which online dressage test you can enter.
Once you’ve entered a competition, you’ll need to grab a copy of the dressage test to learn and practice. All of our competition classes are run to British Dressage rules, and we provide a summary of these on our website, it’s worth having a quick look to keep up to date.
Once you’re ready to ride your test, have someone film it for you and then upload the video for judging. It really is as easy as that!
Why Do You Think Online Dressage is becoming so popular?
I think there are a whole host of reasons – online dressage provides that opportunity to compete for riders who don’t even have their own horse, and we’re seeing an increasing number of entries from riding schools.
We believe that dressage should be accessible to everyone, and that’s at the heart of everything we do. We work with mainly BD List 1 and 2 judges. For many riders, they wouldn’t usually have access to this level of judge at their local shows and unaffiliated events, so it’s an excellent opportunity to ride in front of higher-level judges without competition nerves!
Lots of riders use Dressage Anywhere in-between competitions, to get a sense of what the judge is looking for in the arena. And I think it opens up more opportunities for riders who don’t have their own transport.
We also run monthly training classes with a BD List 1 trainer judge: Riders ride through the test, and our judges provide feedback. It is becoming a useful tool for riders to use between their training sessions and live competitions, without having to schedule significant extra time to travel.
We’ve worked with Riding for the Disabled for many years, running an Online Championship for members of RDA Groups. Groups find it a great resource, not only for the riders they’ll be taking to the live National Championships but for those who aren’t able to go. RDA Groups rely on support and funding to travel horses and riders to live events, so there’s a lot of pressure and our online competitions, judged by specialist para judges really help to ensure all riders have an opportunity to compete.
Where do I upload my video? Absolutely everything is run via our website, so there’s no need to upload a video elsewhere. We’ve developed an automated system, so as soon as an entry is uploaded, the judge is notified and can judge the test online. We take that one step further to inform competitors as soon as their test has been judged – they can download their scoresheet and print or save it.
Where Are Your Competitors Based?
We have members from over 70 different countries; month on month the majority are from the UK, Jersey, Dubai, Qatar, Netherlands, Norway, Cayman Islands, Australia and South Africa. Our furthest competitors are based in Australia and New Zealand. It’s hard not to be insanely jealous when we’re knee-deep in mud and watching people riding in glorious sunshine!
What Level Can I Compete Up To?
You can compete right up to Advanced level & Advanced Medium at Championship level. We’ve been running an Online Championships with British Dressage for around seven years. We wanted to provide opportunities for a Championship Show experience to riders who might not get the chance to go out with their horse physically to a show of this calibre.
It’s grown over the years, and this year we’re really excited to be running it as the British Dressage Equetech Online Championships.
Riders qualify in our regular monthly classes from Introductory to Advanced Medium levels, and all they need are three scores of 60% or above. It’s open to British Nationals and British Expatriates and the qualifying period closes at the end of September 2020. The Online Championship Show runs during November. BD List 1 judges will judge all classes.
What Advice Do You Have For Filming A Test?
We include a filming guide on Dressage Anywhere. Make sure the camera person is at C, where the dressage judge would usually sit. A tripod will help to keep the camera steady, but if you don’t have one available, make sure the person operating the camera keeps you in the centre of the frame and tracks you slowly. A bit of zoom when you’re at the far end of the arena will help the judge to see movements clearly and make sure you’re awarded the marks you deserve.
What Tips Can Your Judges Give Us?
Our judges talk about getting the basics right and building on their foundations, using the Scales of Training to improve your performance. Kim Ratcliffe, BD List 1 Judge, says, ‘Be clear about the requirements of the test – not just the pattern, but what the judge is looking for in each movement – they are set out on the test sheets.’
Debby Lush, BD List 1 Judge, says:
‘Preparation, preparation, preparation – always let your horse know what’s coming next BEFORE you get there.’
Leanne Wall, BD List 1 Judge, says:
‘Focus on your goal and develop a plan of how you are going to achieve it – tiny tick-able attainable targets!’
About Ruth Chappell & Dressage Anywhere:
Ruth is Director of Operations for the company and has two horses;
Geoffrey, a 14.2hh chestnut cob ex-riding school horse who celebrates his 20th birthday this year with Claude, an 18hh bay Holsteiner, also 20 years old.
Dressage Anywhere was launched in 2010 and has been running monthly online competitions ever since. Co-founded by Ruth Chappell, Nereide Goodman and Lucinda Freeman, they continue to leaders in their sector.
Photo of Ruth Chappell By Karen Bennett Photography
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