Not Your Typical Ride-A-Test
What is the difference between a usual Ride-A-Test Clinic and an Austin Dressage Unlimited “Dressage Test Riding Workshop?” Any attendee at one of these very popular dressage educational days can tell you. It begins when you notice that these ADU workshops are organized with a panel of as many as four USDF “L Program” graduates who act as moderators (the USDF Learner Judges Program is the first very extensive USDF training program a rider must complete in order to start the process of becoming a dressage judge). The panel at these workshops work together to advise and coach the riders, as well as answer questions and give explanations to the many auditors present.
The learning begins with one of the main focuses of the workshop – the very important “Warm Up” session before the rider goes into the
competition arena to perform their test. The panel of L Graduates have the riders perform various suppling exercises, as well as practicing some of the movements specific to the upcoming test to be ridden. The rider, as well as auditors present, can clearly see the corrections made and the improvement in the horse’s performance before and after coaching.
Once the warm up instructional session is finished, the rider then performs their actual test of choice. At the same time, the panel of USDF L Graduates judge the tests, filling out separate detailed score sheets with numbers and comments for each movement performed in the test pattern. Auditors are also invited to act as judges and try their hand. Once the test is completed, everyone present discusses what they thought of the performance, both good and not so good points. And, of course, advice is given on how to improve the performance and any problem area is repeated with additional coaching.
As one participant, Rebecca, explained, “I love the learning aspect of these workshops. It was really nice to hear the comments about all of the riders and see how the simplest little change of hands or shift of weight had an immediate difference. I am fired up!”
In between all of this learning, is the necessary eating. Attendees are asked to bring a dish for the crowd to “graze” on during the hard work of learning. This certainly keeps the energy level of the crowd high. ”I don’t know that we could improve on the workshop’s format OR the food!” commented participant Anna. It was also a wonderful social event as dressage enthusiasts met and got to know each other.
These ADU workshops are a unique opportunity for a very enlightening educational dressage session for both riders and auditors, in a relaxed friendly setting. “That workshop was absolutely top rate,” as one auditor, Candace, wrote later to the ADU organizers. Not your typical Ride-A-Test clinic, these ADU Test Riding Workshops have so much more to offer!