A New Kind of “Schooling Show”
What is so new about a “schooling show?” Well, if you are participating in one that is organized by Dressage education based Austin Dressage Unlimited (ADU), you will soon find out. The whole focus of the ADU Practice Shows is of assistance and education to the rider, in a relaxing, low pressure, non-competitive atmosphere. It starts out by being held in a beautiful pastoral setting such as is Lucy Meyer’s lovely Royal Equus Farm near Taylor, TX. Then it continues as a non-competitive practice dressage show designed to educate attendees on how to improve their test riding and show performances. The format is that the participant prepares for and performs their first dressage test as they normally would, on their own. The test is judged by a USDF L Program graduate, and the score sheet is given to the rider when they complete their test. The participant then goes back out to the warm up area, sometimes along with their regular trainer, and joins up with another USDF L Program graduate. The rider’s score sheet and comments are reviewed with them, with weak points identified. Also very effective educationally is the fact that, while they ride their 1st test, an ADU volunteer may be videotaping their ride. This video is then replayed for them, and the rider watches along, keeping their eyes on the film of themselves and their horse, as a volunteer reads their scores and comments for each movement. It is immediate feedback while the rider still remembers the “feel” and details of the ride. It can often be very enlightening to discover that what you thought you felt, really does not look as good as it could or should be. And what you thought felt bad may not really look so bad. A rider can more clearly understand the scores and comments if they can see their performance on film while it is still fresh in their minds.
After viewing the score sheet and possibly reviewing the film, suggestions are given, and specific movements practiced with advice on how to improve them for a higher score. The rider then goes back into the show arena and rides their second test. In most cases, they report a much improved performance during their second ride.
Again, this show is non-competitive, so no scores are posted, and no rankings or comparative placings of horse/rider are released. This makes the whole process non-threatening to many riders who are nervous to perform in public, afraid to get bad scores, or afraid to be placed low in a competitive class. They have no worries, since scores are not published. The non-stressful, low pressure environment is encouraging to them to get out and try riding dressage tests at their level of training.
The design of this educational ADU Practice Show is very popular with riders. Auditors can also learn by following along with the riders, seeing and listening to their reviews (with the rider’s permission), and seeing the results. Auditors are also invited to sit with the test “judge” in the arena to see rides from the judge’s point of view. They are also invited to learn to scribe and/or learn how to perform other “show staff” duties such as paddock master, scorers (if riders want their test scores added up), etc, during these ADU Practice Shows.
These ADU Practice Dressage Shows definitely are a “new kind of schooling show” based on Dressage Education instead of competition.