The Dressage TestPro apps are revolutionising the way people learn their dressage tests around the world. Riders are able to listen to the app (even in the saddle!), watch it being ‘drawn’ on the screen and draw it for themselves. Dressage TestPro’s Tracy-Anne Ormrod takes us behind the brand she has created along with her husband and co-founder James.
Tell our readers a little bit about when your love of horses began..
I started riding at the age of 9 and my dad bought me a pony with a bonus he received from work when I was 10 years old. At that time I was mad keen on jumping! My second pony was a junior Foxhunter pony, but he sadly developed anaemia. He required quite a lot of time off to recover and then gentle work on the flat. When I was competing in a ‘best rider’ class I was spotted by the judge who also happened to be a dressage trainer! That series of events was what started me on the path to being a dressage rider.
Horse riding was the only sport that ever appealed to me. I ‘rode’ on the back of my grandmother’s armchair as a tiny child and copied the jockeys I saw on TV… not an auspicious start for a dressage rider! I represented Great Britain four times as a pony rider between the ages 12-18 on two different ponies.
How did the idea of Dressage TestPro come about?
I’m a keen dressage rider to this day, and alongside riding and competing I also coach both para and able-bodied riders, so I’m totally immersed in the sport. James was watching me learn tests about 4 or 5 years ago and said “surely there’s an app for that?!”. Well, there wasn’t so we set about developing one! I have always felt equestrianism is quite poorly served by any form of technology and innovation, in particular for riders! Now, we have apps for British Dressage, British Eventing, Dressage Ireland, US Eventing, US Dressage and FEI dressage and para dressage tests.
What was your professional background before launching Dressage TestPro?
Both myself and James left school and headed straight into the world of work. We both had a keen interest in computers at the perfect time – it was the early days of personal computing, when the first Apple and IBM machines were coming to market and the industry was about to explode! From the age of 21 I have worked on developing software for businesses in various roles, from programming (although James is the technical bod behind TestPro) to project management. My favourite aspect of my work was and remains business analysis.
During my corporate career I have worked for Lloyds Bank, Help the Aged, BBC, the Department of Work and Pensions, L’Oreal, and NATO. Whilst at the BBC, I was part of a team that won a Science and Technology BAFTA for a piece of work I started on a metadata structure for the whole of broadcasting and television.
Now TestPro takes up most of my time!! I reserve snippets of time for my riding, competing and also teaching both para and able-bodied riders. The apps are my full-time job and then a bit extra, but I love it!
What have you learnt taking Dressage TestPro from an idea to an app used by riders around the world?
For me as a dressage fan I have learnt an awful lot about the different dressage tests around the world! It’s interesting how each country phrases the instructions even though essentially it means the same thing. I’ve also learnt that, although it’s an amazing marketing tool, social media is a tricky platform to balance working, personal and family life on. People seem to expect 24/7 support and can be difficult if they don’t get an immediate response. That’s especially difficult with customers in countries with a big time difference!
From a technical point of view the biggest challenge was how to detect where the user is drawing on the screen. Mapping that to where they are in the test so that we can highlight where they are going wrong was a huge challenge. Our success is what makes TestPro so amazing and totally unique.
Finally, as a husband and wife team we are together all the time, so we’ve set clear boundaries on when work finishes and to make time for ourselves and our four-legged friends. James is keen on walking and climbing so he has to fit in time for mountains. I am also carving out time to ride and compete. It is a big juggling act, and involves a lot of diary management!
What are your future plans for Dressage TestPro?
We are working on expanding the portfolio of dressage tests that we have apps for. I would particularly like to cover Germany and the Pony Club tests. A freestyle version of the app is on the cards too! We see ourselves as the “go to” company for dressage and eventing tests wherever you are in the world. There are also some other apps ideas floating around, still equestrian but in a different area completely.
If you’re looking for an easier way to learn dressage tests, Dressage TestPro is the tool to help you succeed! Take a look at their website to discover more. You’ll find more info and links to download the apps from the Apple or Google app stores.