Fed up with low marks? Dressage judge Alex Gingell reveals eight ways you can improve your score on competition day.

1. Improve your accuracy

Be accurate, for example when riding circles. Make sure 15m circle are 15m – not 18m or 16m!

2. Show your horse off

If your horse has three good paces, show them off by giving him enough energy and freedom to move forward.

3. Keep looking ahead

Show the judges that you mean business by looking up and in the direction of where you’re going.

4. Remember to count

If you’re asked to halt for four seconds at C, make sure you count steadily to four. One Mississippi… two Mississippi…

5. Enjoy yourself

Remember to smile – you’re meant to enjoy it! Even if you’re full of nerves, smiling can lift your mood and make you feel more positive.

6. Never stop learning

However good or bad your test is, use it as a benchmark for improvement.

7. Don’t underestimate your halt

Practise getting a square halt every time when you’re schooling at home. These will then be points you can (almost) guarantee at competition.

8. Maintain straightness

When you’re halting on the centre line in a test, try first and foremost to get a straight halt. Judges sat at C can’t always see if it’s square. A halt that’s not square but is straight could very well get an eight or above.