Doing it Online…Ooh Er!

The blog that’s probably not as exciting as it sounds!

I’m going to have a ramble about Online Dressage/Showing today.

I’ll put my hands up, I’ve only done one month of online comps, but so far I’ve really enjoyed it and been impressed 🙂

It’s really simple, you film a test at home, from the C end, either in a school or a marked out area in your field, and you can have a caller (essential for me, I can’t remember a damn test!). Then upload the video, I use Youtube or Vimeo (sometimes YouTube destroys the quality, so Vimeo is more reliable), pay for the class, send the video link and then wait for results, simples!

It’s a great way to compete if you don’t have transport, pennies are tight and show gear isn’t in the budget (as you wear smart yard clothes) or if, like me, anxiety and nerves can sometimes get the better of you. Or maybe you’d like a judges feedback and this is a simple, stress free way to do it.

I love the online feedback as it shows to me I can achieve it when out, so helps calm my nerves when I go out in person.

I’ve encouraged others on my yard to get involved too, for those without transport, or that can’t afford a regular lesson, then £10-£12 a month on a test, with feedback from a BD listed judge is a positive way to spend their money and receive input on how to improve.

I get a few comments regarding online tests, so wanted to address the most common arguments against it…

The judges are too easy on you and give higher marks – I’d argue that every day! I keep a record of my scores at shows and online and video most of my tests, and say they’re about the same, maybe online is 1-2% higher overall…but that’s because we’re chilled and relaxed at home and haven’t stressed getting to s ahow/warming up and them facing the judge.

The judges aren’t very good and have no qualifications – again, entirely wrong! I’m careful with where I compete and will only compete online if the judges are BD listed or extremely experience in their field.

The idea of online dressage is to encourage people to take part, see what they can achieve when calm and focused at home, and hopefully encourage them to go out and start taking part in local competitions.

It’s a fantastic stepping stone to gauge you and your horses readiness, and if you can do it at home and get good feedback, then surely that will encourage you to go out and about and give it a go too?

Or maybe you want to compete, but have no interest in all the faff of travelling, dressing up and getting out there, so enjoy the online shows!

In the last month or so I entered 3 different online competitions, I’ve written a little review for each below, which I hope you find useful.

The Mane Show £11.00 a class

This was the first one I entered in March, as recommended by a fellow livery at my yard.

It’s easy to understand the rules, complete payment, film, upload and share links. The tests are different every month, there are no restrictions, but it’s clearly stated in the rules to be honest about your horses and yours ability and will help you choose which class to enter if unsure.

The rules are also more relaxed than most, allowing for most types of tack, bitless bridles etc.

I’ve been lucky enough to place in both March & April tests, and have to say the frillies are stunning! Which is another plus point of online showing, money is saved on venue hire etc, so can be spent on stunning ribbons!

The judge is knowledgeable and fair with comments and feedback.

The closing date is normally the last day of the month, with results being posted between 1st-5th and then sheets and ribbons arriving by the 10th both months.

The only down but of the Mane Show is that the ribbons have safety pins rather than hooks, so displaying is a bit of a bugger! and I hate using safety pins around horses, so am super quick with any pics taken with BJ wearing them, but that won’t stop me entering.

Optimum Events £12.00 per class + £1.50 (myridinglife fee)

I’m filming later today for this month (2 days before the cut off…bad Lucy!) but I kept forgetting to schedule it in.

This is a local company in Suffolk which is why I’m keen to support them. They run events locally, but most start at Prelim, and I’m a few months off being happy to go straight in at Prelim, so am currently entering Intro and Prelim classes online to build up the brave pants!

The judges are all BD listed and definitely don’t go easy on you online, which I love! I want to know what BD listed judges think of our partnership and how we can improve so we’re ready to start affiliated competitions at the end of the year and know I’ll get honest and worthwhile feedback with Optimum.

Rules follow standard BD rules, filming is easy, pretty much the same as everything else, but uploading they ask for them to be sent via whatsapp. Due to the size of my files I couldn’t do this, so uploaded to youtube and sent the links via whatsapp, which they were happy to accept.

Cut off is normally the middle of the month, another plus point for me as it means I can get involved with online tests all through the month. Results are posted within 24hrs of the closing date and sheets and ribbons sent out quickly, mine arrived within the week.

Now, I placed 1st in both classes, but I don’t count them, and only looked at my scores/feedback, as in one class it was just me, and the other there was just 2 of us. I’m looking forward to these events gaining in popularity and seeing the classes grow. But hell…we all love a ribbon right? And these are stunning!

E-Riders £10.00 per class + £1 postage

With E-riders I entered April Intro B & C and had entered the Intro an Prelim for the Live Dressage on their FaceBook Group on the 12th May.

Again, rules etc are easy to follow and understand, filming is a little different as you have to introduce yourself at the beginning of your video, confirming your name, the horses name and event entered. Which is a fab idea to stop people using the same video for numerous online entries (but lets face it…those people are only cheating themselves!) and upload is easy too.

Cut off is the end of the month and results post the first day of the following month…and what a tense day that was! lots of refreshing and keeping an eye on the page, and wowzers! so many entries!

Both my classes were split into 3 groups of approx. 20. I was extremely lucky to place even with a 66% and 72%

I noticed a bit of backlash about this on the group and have mixed feelings about it. Personally I saw 75%+ and thought ‘Wowzers…these riders are good!’. A few comments suggested some were entering online Intro classes while competing at BD Novice level. If that’s the case these people should be banned from entering as they have such unsportsmanlike attitudes. While it’s difficult for any organiser to check up on this, I could understand the frustration from some people. But, at the end of the day, it’s meant to be a bit of fun, and if you were out and about competing you’d know that somedays a 65% will have you clear in the lead and others with have you bottom of the pack. That’s just how it goes, it just encourages me to take on board all the judges say and work together with my boy to improve.

I’ll also add the scores and notes from the judges were on par with other judges, both online and in person, so I don’t believe these BD listed judges were being generous, I think there were some fab combinations taking part and they deserved the marks they got!

This then led to a new set of restrictions coming into play, overnight. Which effected my Live tests, I contacted Susie and we discussed my options and we decided it was best for me just to do Prelim, rather than the intro I had planned too. GULP!

Having only been competing 6 weeks, I’ll not lie, I felt a little pushed out of Intro and I’m only working at Prelim at home, so not 100% ready for just Prelim tests, but, big girl pants on, we gave it a go. And along with Georgia and the fabulous Spirit, our yard mates, we got a JOINT 4th! Spirit and BJ bring it home to GHL!!

Unfortunately, due to the restrictions I won’t be taking part in e-riders for a month or two now, I need to up my game before throwing my hat in the ring again.

This is not a complaint at them, they want to make it fair and encouraging for everyone, which I totally respect and will be back when I can take part competitively with them 🙂

I received my sheets and ribbons yesterday, so the 14th, which was a little longer than I’d like in all honesty, and I’ll update this when I receive my live sheet from Saturday as it may have been a one off for slow postage this month. I like to receive online tests within the week, so that I can start working on what the judge has said to start improving for the following month, so mid month does leave me a bit on the back foot. However, there were a LOT of entries so that must have slowed down the sorting/posting of the sheets etc.

Looking forward to May I’ll be entering the Mane Show again, they were my first and I do love them! Optimum events will be filmed today, and as a new one I’ll be trying Dressage Riders Online.

I hope you’ve found my rambling review useful, and hope to see some of your joining in the online fun!

Until next time, love and smoochies!

Lucy & Bojack


Please Note – all information is correct as to how I have read and understood it, please make sure if you’re entering any online competitions that you take the time to read the full rules and terms before filming etc.