June 22, 2021

Waterloo Friday: DSE

GP trainer had strongly suggested I enter Dressage Seat Equitation for Friday of this show. "It'll give him a chance to see the ring at a new place before your tests, and it's just a good class to get feedback from."

For those unfamiliar with DSE, (I was before this show), it's basically a rail class from the hunters with all competitors in the ring at the same time, and the judge calling out gaits and movements. According to my trainer, the fanciest thing they might ask for is a leg yield. You're judged entirely on your position, and the horse just has to look pleasant and steady.

Pleasant and steady. Thank you Teresa for all the media! Btw - no shine spray used here at all, he is just mirror glossy right now after a year on Omega Horseshine.

In the warmup, I was having trouble getting him to do anything, and it wasn't until he had one of his classic headshaking outbursts that I realized I was pulling. I also realized I was sucked back on my right side. Immediately after I started thinking "right side forward", he gave me some of the softest, straightest, trot we've ever gotten.

In the ring, we would be competing against my teammate on her imported Warmblood - actually the same teammate whose saddle cemented the win for Patrick last week. What I wouldn't have given to be doing DSE in that saddle! 

Teammate's outfit is on point


Connor felt amazing in this class - truly the best he felt all weekend. You know, when it didn't matter a bit, haha.

I found two things difficult about this class. The first was that remembering to show yourself off instead of the horse is hard. My last hunter eq class was a decade ago at this point, and I kept finding myself riding to make the horse better and not thinking a bit about what that effort looked like to the judge.

The other thing that was difficult was doing anything in posting trot. It's been almost four years since my last judged posting trot effort, so I completely forgot things like, you know, changing your posting diagonal at X.

The judge called the three of us over at the end and gave us some collective feedback on things we all could do better, and then some individual feedback. To me, she said "There's a lot to like about your position. Did you come from a jumper background?" I took that question quite literally as "show jumping background" and I said no, which I'm sure made me look like an idiot as I was sitting there doing Dressage in a jump saddle, and I'm sure looking back on it she meant "jumping of any kind". But she said I tended to ride with a closed hip and get a bit behind the motion but otherwise she really liked my position.

You don't get score sheets back in DSE, but you do get percentages, and in the end I got a 74%, edged out by 1% by my teammate who deservedly took the win.

After that, I quickly untacked and hosed Connor off so I could return and watch my first ever Prix Caprilli class! This is a Dressage class with jumps up to 2'6 in it and it was SO COOL. One of my other barnmates took her former eventer in it.

From the scoresheet: "Prix Caprilli Test for Horses with jumping experience competing First Level and above - maximum height of fences 2'6". It is understood that in the working gaits, a jumping horse is not expected to be as round on the aids as a competing Dressage horse. The horse must softly accept the bit and may show more "roundness" in the parts of the tests separate from the jumps. Unless otherwise noted, trot work may be done posting or sitting. When allowed to change leads the horse may do a flying change or change though the trot. The quality of the change is what matters. Test may be called"


It was really cool to watch, and I texted Mary midway through to inform her she will be taking Connor in one of these classes someday. She said she'd only do it if she could wear full hunter princess attire - which is legal as far as I can tell!


  1. Yeah, Stella told me at her very first show that I was holding onto her mouth TOO MUCH. But considering all the things she thought worth bolting from, there was some self-preservation at work! ha

  2. that last one sounds like an event that I could do lol

  3. I feel you on the warm-up. It's like you get to the show and all your not so great habits pop right back up. Good for you for successfully fixing things. Looking good!

  4. Very cool that they gave you direct feedback in the DSE class! I did Prix Caprilli classes back in Pony Club many years ago and loved them, I'm so glad they still run them at shows outside of Pony Club. It sounds like it would be perfect fit for Mary and Connor.

  5. Sounds like a great first day! I've heard of DSE but didn't really know what they were looking for exactly. Sounds fun! I had NOT heard of Prix Caprilli classes, those sound fun! Would love to see Mary and Connor do one of those!

  6. This sounds like a great show, I love that they offer these classes!

  7. How cool, I haven't heard of either of those classes!

  8. I love the Dressage Seat Equitation idea! We have something similar here but only for tiny kiddos. Prix Caprilli is really common throughout the country here as part of the kids' interschools competitions. I use it to trick jumping kids into doing dressage, LOL.