Start with a good warm-up: A proper warm-up is essential for both horse and rider. It will help your horse loosen up and prepare for more demanding movements, and it will help you develop a good feel for your horse's movement and balance.
Focus on proper position and alignment: Good dressage riding starts with a balanced, upright position that allows you to effectively communicate with your horse. Make sure your seat is deep and secure, your legs are correctly positioned, and your hands are soft and steady.
Use your seat and legs: In dressage, your seat and legs are your primary means of communication with your horse. Use them to gently guide your horse's movements and balance, and to maintain a consistent pace and rhythm.
Use your hands sparingly: In dressage, your hands should be used to fine-tune your horse's movements and balance, rather than to control them. Keep your hands steady and soft, and use them sparingly to avoid pulling on your horse's mouth.
Keep a steady pace: Maintaining a steady pace is essential for good dressage riding. Use your seat and legs to maintain a consistent rhythm, and avoid speeding up or slowing down unless specifically instructed by the judge.
Focus on the horse's way of going: In dressage, the quality of your horse's movement is just as important as the specific movements you perform. Make sure your horse is moving freely and comfortably, with good impulsion and suspension.
Practice transitions: Smooth, balanced transitions between different gaits and movements are a key part of dressage. Practice these transitions at home, and make sure you and your horse are comfortable and confident before attempting them in a test.
Be aware of the judges: In a dressage competition, the judges are watching your every move. Be aware of their location and position, and make sure you're performing the movements and transitions correctly.
Stay calm and focused: Dressage can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially for beginners. Remember to stay calm and focused, and don't let yourself get flustered or rushed. Take deep breaths, and remind yourself that you and your horse have trained hard for this moment.
Have fun: Above all, remember to enjoy yourself and have fun. Dressage is a challenging but rewarding discipline, and the best riders are those who are passionate and enthusiastic about their horses and the sport.