Before you go out to practise your dressage test or to actually ride it in the arena, do take the time to read the test all the way through, to not only learn it, but to learn where the marks are allocated. There are always a mix of movements with transitions and if you remember some of the these that go together, then you can improve your marks considerably.
It is a good idea to be fully dressed with your jacket on, before you start your warm-up, so that you can keep your concentration throughout, and into the test, and this way you will be more consistent with everything, including your contact.
The same applies to the horse’s boot or bandages. If at all possible have them off from the beginning, but if that is not possible, then they should be whipped off by a helper quickly and quietly.
The warm-up itself does depend on each individual horse, and can vary a little from day to day. Some need very little time but others, need to be settled and loosened up much more. The travelling also affects the horse, with its excitement level, and how stiff it becomes, standing in one spot for however long. Your job as a rider is to learn from each outing to ride in to help and not to tire.
Once you enter the arena, the following points should help you keep the standard of your test up from the beginning to the end.
The centre line is the first impression, so straight and forward makes a good picture.
Remember to keep your, and your horses balance on all your turns and circles, by keeping the consistent contact on both reins, the rider sitting in the centre of the back and the energy really thinking forward so that the contact stays steady.
Ride all your figures accurately as it is a silly way to lose marks, when you fall in, onto too small circles, or miss markers in the transitions.
Finally, try to make the test feel the same forward rhythm and regularity, from beginning to end, even when you are tiring or struggling with concentration.
Finally, finally! Enjoy your ride and treat it to test your training and give you pointers for improvement.