What is Dressage Ireland?

Dressage Ireland is the national body controlling affiliated dressage on the island of Ireland. The main objectives for which the Company is established are to promote the amateur sport of dressage in Ireland and, where appropriate, in other countries amongst its members and to the public, both generally and as an educational, recreational and sporting activity.

The Regional Committees organise Dressage shows and organise training. There are 7 regions: Leinster, Easter, South East, North Munster, South Munster and Northern.

Each region organises shows within its own territory, as well as training and other activities. National Championships are run centrally at the end of the winter and summer seasons.

Dressage Judges are trained and examined by Dressage Ireland and are the official judges to officiate at dressage shows.

Do I need to be a member of Dressage Ireland to enter a Dressage Ireland competition?

Many regional dressage shows also run classes for unregistered riders. You can consult the schedules for each region. In addition, unregistered riders and horses/ponies can usually compete hors concours (H/C) in affiliated classes. Hors concours competitors will receive a test sheet with the judge's comments and marks but will not be eligible for prizes and horses/ponies will not gain grading points (see below).

Unregistered riders need to pay a €5 day registration fee in addition to the normal entry fee. No day registration fee is needed when a registered rider competes an unregistered horse or pony H/C.

How can I register myself and my horse/pony with Dressage Ireland?

All the information regarding joining as a member and registering a horse or pony can be found in the Membership section of the website.

Remember if you are registering a horse/pony which has competed abroad, in order to facilitate processing of the registration, you must supply all details of its competition results from abroad at the time of registration.

How do I enter a competition?

Choose a show from the Show Schedule.

The schedule for each show gives you all the information you need, such as the date and venue of the competition, along with the tests used in each class, entry fee, closing date for entries and how to get your test times.

Select the class(es) you want to enter (see below). Remember to check that you and your horse are eligible for any class you do enter. Check the Dressage Ireland rules about grading and points, if your horse is registered. Check the relevant show schedule for conditions of eligibility for unregistered classes.

You can download the official entry form here

You should always use the official Dressage Ireland entry form, even if you and/or your horse are not registered, as the form gives the show organisers all the information they need in relation to your entry. Remember it is in your interest to provide an address, contact telephone number and email (if you have one), as the show organisers may need to contact you if there are any queries about your entry or if the show is postponed or cancelled. Please remember to write clearly on your entry form or preferably fill it out on your computer before printing it.

Send your completed entry form to the show secretary of the show you are attending - do not send to Dressage Ireland! Enclose the entry fee (cheque or postal order - do not send cash through the post). Make sure that cheques are made out to the appropriate recipient, which will vary depending on who is organising the show. Check the show schedule to confirm the correct entry fee recipient.

If you cannot compete early or late or are travelling with another competitor, please write this on the entry form as most organisers will try to help when allocating start times. This is usually done a couple of days before the show.

What class should I enter?

If you have lessons with a trainer, your trainer should be able to advise you as to the most suitable level to compete at. If you don't have any ready source of advice, check the tests for the classes and be sure to enter a class where you can comfortably perform the required moves. If your horse/pony is currently graded at a level higher than you wish to compete, you can enter a lower grade class H/C.

What do I do next?

Make sure you have a copy of the relevant test and learn it.

Dressage Ireland tests are published on the Dressage Ireland website here.

Copies of British Dressage tests may be purchased from British Dressage, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2RJ. britishdressage.co.uk

Individual tests can also be ordered and obtained immediately on-line from dressagediagrams.org.

Please note that British Dressage Ltd. tests are protected by copyright. Photocopying is not permitted. Legal action will be taken against offenders by British Dressage Ltd.

Remember to ring during the time slot stated in the schedule or, where applicable, check the relevant website (as described in the show schedule) for the start time of your test(s).

What should I wear?

Some riders think they need to spend a fortune on expensive clothes and leather boots to compete in affiliated dressage. This is not the case.

Full details of requirements for riders' equipment are detailed in the Dressage Ireland Rulebook.

What should my horse/pony wear?

Full details of permitted tack are outlined in the Dressage Ireland Rulebook.

What do I do when I arrive at the show?

Arrive in plenty of time to declare your entry at the secretary's office.

Some shows use bridle numbers - if this is the case at the show you enter, you can find out your bridle number when you declare. You can buy bridle numbers from most saddlers.

If there is a call-up steward, let them know you are there and listen out for when you are called for your test. Check where your class is being held, whether you should ride inside or outside the arena just before you start your test and where you can warm up.

Follow the code of practice for warming up (full details are in the current Dressage Ireland Rulebook).

Keep an eye on your watch, as it is up to you to be at the arena and ready to go at the right time.

Remember to remove any boots and bandages before the test.

You can ask a friend to video your performance and you can also have someone read out your test, sometimes referred to as a commander (this person should not stand too close to the judge).

You are allowed to ride around the outside/inside of the arena for a short while before you begin your test. The judge will sound a horn or ring a bell to tell you to start and you have up to 45 seconds to enter the arena at marker A.

If you go wrong, the judge will sound the horn. Don't panic, as you will only lose marks for that one movement. Stop as soon as possible. If you know where you have gone wrong, raise your hand and return to the start of that movement. If you are not sure, ride towards the judge, who will tell you where you went wrong and where to restart. If you have a problem with the horse and would like to retire, let the judge know.

Once you have put your horse away, check your marks on the scoreboard. Your test sheets can be collected about ½hr after the end of the class and it is wise to check the adding up of the scores. If they are wrong, you must point it out to the organiser. If you cannot wait to collect your sheets, you can leave a stamped addressed envelope to have them sent on. Judges are often around the scoreboard after the class has finished. Do feel you can ask them questions to help you learn.

How can I improve my scores?

Get as much training from an appropriately qualified trainer as you can! If you do not have a trainer at the moment, you can locate one by:

  • asking about training organised by your region
  • asking regional committee members about trainers in your area
  • asking successful competitors about their trainers