Mary King’s 6 Top Tips for Perfecting Your Dressage Test

By Mary King on 04 April 2017

  1. Be black and white with your training so that your horse understands what you want as a rider. Always be methodical and pick up on little mistakes before they become big problems.
  1. Don’t school every day. Keep you and your horse interested by including regular hacking and some canter work. When preparing for a dressage test a couple of days a week in the school is plenty, to focus on areas you need to improve on.
  1. Always give your horse a day off to keep him fresh – our horses all have a day off every week with at least half the day in the field.
  1. School on grass whenever you can as this is usually the surface you will have at a competition and it will help your horse get used to not having any arena sides to ‘lean’ on.
  1. We often take dressage markers to a flat section of a field and move the quarter markers closer to the corners to make turns tighter. This way when it comes to the dressage test there suddenly seems to be plenty of space to turn!
  1. Prepare thoroughly but don’t overdo it the day before the dressage test. Run through some of the test movements but not the entire test so that your horse doesn’t anticipate.

If you’re feeling inspired and would like more information on dressage you can read our ultimate beginner’s guide to the sport here.



Mary King is one of the UK’s most accomplished and admired professional event riders. She has represented Great Britain at six Olympics from 1992 to 2012, winning team silver in 2004 and 2012 and team bronze in 2008. She has also won team gold at two World Equestrian Games and four team golds at the European Eventing Championships. Mary has a raft of individual medals including European Bronze in 1995 and European Silver in 2007. She is a four-time British Open Champion, won Badminton Horse Trials in 1992 and 2000, Burghley Horse Trials in 1996 and the Rolex Kentucky in 2011. Mary regularly competes on homebred horses, which always have the ‘King’ prefix. Mary’s daughter Emily is also a successful event rider.

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