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With the Verdo Horse Bedding Dressage To Music Championship qualifiers nearly upon us, Verdo Horse Bedding ambassador and FEI judge and international dressage rider Judy Harvey gives British Riding Club members some useful tips and advice to help get a great 'tune' out of their performance!

Testing Times

• Always know your test inside out and backwards, so when the bell goes, you have one less thing to worry about! Knowing the sequence of movements will also allow you to prepare for each movement better and so enable you to ride each element better too!
• Know your music inside out and backwards, especially the start. Frequent problems/retirements occur where the music starts in the wrong place and the rider is initially unaware. If this happens to you, don’t panic and don't start your test, simply ask the organisers to get the music restarted in the right place.
• Always hand in two CDs in case of a problem with one, and if possible do a sound check. If your horse is nervous keep the volume lower, if he is confident go for more volume and atmosphere.
• Give a clear signal to start your music. Make a note of where the technician is located and make sure he or she can see you!
• Plan/time your entry to start from outside the arena and from inside the arena, you could be expected to do either at the show.
• Ride to your music not to the letters. All surfaces vary and you may find yourself ahead of or behind the music. If this happens ride deeper corners if you are in front of the music or cut corners if you are running a little behind.
• Don't be tempted to ride faster just because it is a competition. Ride to the beat so that your horse’s footfalls fit the music.
• Try to choreograph your test to highlight your strong areas and disguise your weaknesses. Make sure that you present the compulsory movements clearly.

Let The Music Begin

• The judges will generally give the best marks for music that best fits the footfalls of the horse and they are not supposed to allow personal preference to come into it. You must enjoy the music, as you will have to listen to it endlessly. Try to choose music that suits you and your horse, ie: The Sugar Plum Fairy is not great for an 18 hand Warmblood! There are lots of professional companies who can put music together for you and not all of them are expensive and it could be much cheaper than the cost of divorce or ruined relationships with partners and relatives in an attempt to get them to do it for you!! Also, give yourself plenty of time, as it takes months to perfect.
• Before the competition, practice your test and video it. Honestly appraise it and make adjustments. Keep the finished version on video to review when you get to the show to help you remember it. Also it may help to write down the choreography. Don’t panic if someone else has your music, it happens and the judges are unlikely to notice as they have plenty to think about.
• Give yourself plenty of time to get ready and travel on the day. Bedding your horse on Verdo Horse Bedding will not only help speed up your mucking out at home and help reduce stable stains, but it can also be used in your trailer or horsebox which can help encourage him to stale, if he needs to. It also absorbs any urine quickly and with the added benefit of it having a low dust content and shaking easily out of manes and tails, Verdo can help your horse look and feel his best in the ring!
• Finally - remember to smile and enjoy your test. Dressage to music should be fun, so don't let nerves spoil it!

Wishing you all the very best success!

Judy Harvey