The end of November is approaching, and with that my sponsorship of the Novice Championship class with Dressage Anywhere. I thought it would be a great time to find out a bit more about this fabulous online dressage competition platform, so Ruth and I had a little chat – and we are also very excited to launch a competition at the end of this month to win a le mieux dressage pad and a voucher towards your entry on Dressage Anywhere. Keep your eyes peeled on Facebook for that!

So, over to you Ruth!

You launched DA back in 2010 – what made you start up an online dressage competition platform?

I started Dressage Anywhere with two business partners and the main aim was to make competitive dressage more accessible to everyone. I had been limited by the lack of transport in the early days of horse ownership and we thought there must be many other people out there in a similar situation.

What is your favourite thing about Dressage Anywhere?

I can’t think of just one – there are many! I love seeing our members post on social media about their successes, whether it’s a picture of a rosette that’s just arrived in the post or a proud rider posting about their result and what they’ve learned. I also love how we’ve developed a system that is automated, so as soon as a test is judged the competitor receives an e-mail with a link to download their scoresheet, sometimes within hours of uploading their video.

What would you say to people who are on the fence about joining? Is there a subscription fee?

It’s completely free to join Dressage Anywhere. If anyone is on the fence about signing up, I’d say get in touch and let me know what your concerns are. If it’s about nerves and other people seeing your video, all of our riders have the option to mark their video as private, so only the judge can view it. If it’s about how your test will be judged, we only work with British Dressage List 1, 2 and FEI judges who many riders don’t have access to – their feedback and comments are both spot on and supportive. If the world of online dressage worries you, I’d invite you to have a go and see what you can get out of it – it can be a great training aid and you might win a rosette in the process!

Do you have any tips for people filming their first ever dressage test for submission?

We include some filming tips on the help pages of our website, but if you follow these tips, you won’t go wrong!

Film from C, the judge’s position
Try not to film into direct sunlight, otherwise the rider will appear as a silhouette
If you’re filming on a smartphone or tablet, hold the device in a landscape orientation
Try to keep the rider in the centre of the frame at all times
Apply a bit of zoom when the rider is at the A end of the arena, to make sure the judge can see all movements clearly.
I am looking to compete in my first ever dressage competition before the close of 2017. Can you give me any helpful advice on how not to freak out? (I’m 99% certain it will be one submitted to DA, and not travelling to anywhere!)

Take your time to learn the test and practice putting some of the movements together in your schooling sessions. Breathe and smile as you ride down the centre line – smiling will help you relax and avoid tensing up. If you make a mistake in the test, say your horse breaks canter, just continue the movement and move onto the next one. It’s important to put mistakes behind you – it’s only one set of marks and focussing on it may affect your performance for the next movement. Quite often the free walk on a long rein movement is double marks, so nail it! Make sure you practice the free walk in all of your schooling sessions, encouraging your horse to stretch over the back. We got some more tips in our It’s All in the Mind Blog.

We would love to know a bit more about the person behind DA. Can you tell us if you have your own horse/s and if so, a bit about them?

I’ve loved horses all my life and have been riding since I was nine. But I didn’t have my own horse until much later in life. Geoffrey and I have been a partnership for 11 years – he’s a very cheeky (but cute) 14.2 cob X and his best mate is an 18hh Holsteiner. We used to have a go at everything – hurtling over cross country fences and around the Hampshire countryside, but these days we keep all four feet firmly on the ground. He’s a quirky pony and we’ve plugged away at dressage for many years, but last year we qualified for the BD Summer Regional Championships which was a fabulous experience!


A random fact about yourself?

I used to have a full-time job in publishing and ran Dressage Anywhere evenings and weekends. I still work evenings and weekends, but not with matchsticks keeping my eyelids open anymore!

Finally, what has 2018 got in store for you and DA?

2018 is going to be our busiest year yet! Our BD Online Championships are transforming into the BD Online Associated Championships and we’re working with a few other organisations to develop leagues and competitions for many more riders