Style, grace and presence are important in the dressage arena. It is true that your horse’s movements and your riding abilities are scored, but how you enter the arena and salute the judge before your test is also important. The salute is not only a sign of respect, but it represents your readiness to begin your test. Remember, as soon as you enter that dressage ring…you and your horse are being assessed. So, here are the steps for that perfect salute!
Enter the arena using the gait specified in your test. Keeping your horse straight, halt at X. Ensure that your horse is straight and square at the halt. Your horse’s ability to stand still during the salute is very important.
As you enter the arena, make eye contact with the judge. At the full halt, make full eye contact with the judge showing your confidence in your upcoming ride.
Put the reins in your left hand and hold the reins. If you are a male competitor, remove your hat.
Drop your free hand (right) to your side, just behind your thigh. Your fingers should be pointing downwards and your hand should be relaxed. Hold your arm straight. Remember that this should be a fluid, graceful movement. Practice this movement at home while sitting on a chair.
You have maintained eye contact with the judge this entire time, and now you will bow to the judge. As you bow your head, your chin should almost touch your chest. Look at the judge while you raise your head.
Wait for the judge. Typically, the judge will be standing as you approach X. After your salute, the judge will sit down and this is your signal to start your test.
If you are a male rider, now is the time to put on your hat.
Remember to breathe deeply. Organize yourself and don’t rush into the test. Make sure that your reins are even and that you are holding the reins correctly. Ask your horse to move forward smoothly into the next movement.
Remember, at the end of the test after your final salute, please thank the judge.