I have learned that taking the time to watch other riders do their tests is an excellent way to learn. At one-day shows, I simply don’t have time to hang around and watch because I usually have a two-hour drive back home. Sitting around for several hours means getting home after dinner. At two-day shows however, I have nothing but time to sit around and watch, and I did!
Observing from A offers a completely different perspective. You can really check for straightness and accuracy. Straightness and forwardness is hard for all horses, not just the low level ones.
On the other hand, there are many struggling riders out there, and they aren't necessarily the Intro or Training Level riders. I don’t point this out to be catty, only to illustrate that you don’t have to be perfect to move on. I also realized that I don’t look out of place out there. While I am certainly not the perfect rider, I do have a decent seat that is getting better and better.
I also noticed that all of the upper level movements are related to what horses at the lowest levels are learning. I can see how mastery at each level prepares the horse for the next level. Those upper level movements no longer look like magic tricks to me because really, all of the horses are just walking, trotting, and cantering. There’s no magic involved. Looking behind the curtain reveals that you don’t have to be a wizard to ride Grand Prix. What a liberating concept: anyone who works hard enough can get there. Even me!