Dressur: Training und Prüfung

Tipps von Kyra Kirklund, finnische Olympiareiterin Dressur

As a competition rider you need to understand the difference between educating and training your horse in daily work, and preparing warming up and riding him in an actual competition.

When you educate and train at home it makes sense to try to find the horse´s weak points and to work to improve them, but this has to be done without making the horse insecure. I truly believe that when training you should not only concentrate on the horses weaknesses. But you should also train the things he can do well. I always end the schooling session with something the horse can do easily. This allows him to go back to the stable with a positive frame of mind.

When I encounter a problem that I can´t solve directly, I try to find something that is related to the problem, but which is more basic and therefore easier. If I succeed in this I have the opportunity to reward the horse and tell him he has done well.

I have seen a lot of riders work only on the bad things, which just makes the horse worse because he loses his self-confidence and finally the motivation even to try. As a competition rider, you must accept that every horse has his weaknesses and his limitations. It is important, though that these don´t develop into really big problems. A word of warning here: while it is wrong to concentrate on the horse´s weak points equally you should not over-train the things the horse is good at - for example, extended trot, which is really strenuous for the horse.

Don´t let onlookers influence your training. You must work on the things that you or the horse really need to improve, even if it might look less impressive to anyone watching.

When a competition is approaching, I ride special test exercises and focus on precision, so I know I can ride from one point to another. I do this to check that I really can cope with the degree of difficulty demanded at the level at which I am competing. As a competition rider, you have to know how to ride the different movements even if the horse is not performing at his best. It is maybe only five or 10 times a year that your horse will feel very fantastic and if one of these occasions just happens to be during a competition, it is almost like a miracle! You must learn to accept the horse not feeling perfect during a competition ride - you have to ignore it an still show your horse as well as possible.

Young or inexperienced riders are often so ambitious that they expect absolute perfection all the time. If things don´t turn out exactly the way they want, they punish the horse in their frustration and he also becomes frustrated. The performance level of both will suffer. There will be times during a test when you will feel that a movement is starting do deteriorate or a mistake could happen. Here you must decide if you should take the chance to improve or correct it. If you think the odds of improvement are bigger than the odds of making it worse, take the risk and improve what you can.

You have to know yourself and your horse so well that you never make corrections that result in a worse execution of the movement. It is essential that the competition rider knows what every score is based on and where each movement starts and ends. If you decide to make a correction, make it so that it affects the score of only one movement and not two! Even better make the correction when you are in "no man`s land" between two movements as here the correction will cost fewer points.

When I warm up before a competition, I try and avoid situations where the horse could make a mistake. Even if I don`t succeed in tuning the horse 100% it is more important that we enter the arena with self-confidence, fully believing "we can do this" I certainly do not want to be going in thinking that we are going to fail because we made so many mistakes in the warm -up.

Of course, when you compete you should try to do as well as you can, but do be realistic about your own standard and don`t set your goals so high that they are unattainable. If you do so, you are only going to be disappointed and frustrated if you don´t achieve them. The goal is not necessarily always to win, but maybe to do a little better than last time. If you are too ambitious when you compete in a tough competition, there is a tendency to "override" and, as a result, fails to come up to your usual standard.

When your technical ability to ride the movements is good and the basics are correct, then you can start to improve your competition technique through sports psychology. This involves using your mind to enhance your physical performance. You need to learn how to relax totally and to shut our distractions so well that you become almost unaware of your body and can concentrate only on your thoughts. When you reach this state of calmness, you can visualise a detailed "film" of yourself performing the best of your ability.

When I arrive at a competition, I immediately look for the arena in which I will compete. I make my way to the setter A to get the same view of the arena I will as I have when I enter it to do my test and I try to copy this picture on the arena and its surroundings onto my "mind film".

Mental training complements your riding. If you repeatedly rehearse every single aid you will give the horse with accuracy and in the smallest detail and feel the reaction you want to have in every step and every movement, you can reach a point where your influence on the horse will become automatic. You are the able to react to a problem quickly and confidently and you will have more ability to feel and use finesse to make your ride something special. Pessimism, fear and anxiety cause poor performance. It is important for the rider to become so proficient and secure in his physical daily training that he can avoid a really bad test. If you are afraid of a major disaster in a test, or if one actually occurs, the resulting fear can start a vicious circle in which the poor performance will reinforce itself. If this happens, you should try to find and reaffirm a comfortable secure level of performance in training It is only through this renewed security that improvement in competition will come about, as it will enable you to overcome your fear of failure or disaster.

Try always to be realistic and honest about your personal level of competence. Remember the more secure your normal level of performance the greater your chance of riding a really good test.

Kurzfassung Deutsch

Die wichtigsten Ratschläge von Kyra Kyrklund:

"Unterscheiden Sie zwischen Ausbildung und Training zuhause und dem Abreiten vor und Reiten in einer Dressurprüfung : Zuhause macht es Sinn, die Schwächen des Pferdes herauszufinden und sie zu verbessern, immer ohne das Pferd zu verunsi-chern. Konzentrieren Sie sich nicht nur auf die Schwächen, trainieren Sie auch die guten Aktionen, speziell am Schluss des Trainings, damit das Pferd mit einem guten Gefühl in den Stall zurückgeht. Wenn eine Uebung nicht klappt, versuchen Sie es mit etwas Ähnlichem, Einfacherem.

Wenn der Prüfungstermin näher kommt, reiten Sie Ihr Programm und legen Sie Wert auf die Genauigkeit der Figuren. So sehen Sie, ob Sie mit den gefragten Anforderun-gen zurecht kommen, sogar wenn Ihr Pferd nicht seinen besten Tag haben sollte. Im Viereck: Stecken Sie Fehler weg und verbessern Sie die nächste Figur. Darum ist es so wichtig, den Ablauf des Programms genau zu verinnerlichen.

Vermeiden Sie beim Abreiten Situationen, die zu Fehlern oder Streit mit dem Pferd führen. Nur so können beide selbstsicher ins Viereck einreiten.

Wenn die Grundtechnik und die Figuren sitzen, können Sie mentale Stärke einset-zen. Lernen Sie, sich so zu entspannen, dass nichts mehr Sie ablenken kann. Spei-chern Sie das Programm wie einen Film in Ihrem Hirn. An der Prüfung selbst schau-en Sie sich den Wettkampfort genau an und fügen Sie diese Bilder in Ihren 'Film' ein. Mit regelmässiger Uebung in Mentalem Training wird Ihr Einwirken auf das Pferd automatisiert, und Sie können rasch auf Probleme reagieren. Die Angst vor dem De-saster verschwindet. Ihr Ritt bekommt Sicherheit und Ausstrahlung. Sie können ein wirklich gutes Programm reiten !