From Endurance to Dressage
The 64 Million Dollar Question
I wish this were not such a loaded question. I wish there was an easy answer. I wish I knew the answer already. So what is the question? Well, it's one we've all asked before, and one we all struggle with I am sure. Essentially, when do I move up a level? Or rather, when do I move completely out of a level, and by that what I really mean is are we ready to go all in at training level?
I started showing at Introductory A & B before there was an Introductory C. We showed those two tests through the last half of 2010. In 2011, the new tests were introduced so I showed Introductory B & C which felt like I had moved up a level because the C test was somewhat similar to the old T1 test. The C test is where the canter is introduced.
At the end of 2011, I ditched the B test and moved on to Intro C and Training Level 1. My scores at Intro C have been steadily climbing and are firmly in the mid to high 60% range. In fact I've already qualified for the CDS Regional Adult Amateur Competition at Intro C. My scores at T1 have also begun their rise and are resting pretty solidly at over 60%. The T2 test appears "easy," or rather it seems very much like what I am already riding: changes of rein, canter circles, and a left bend stretchy trot.
Are we ready to go all in at Training Level? I don't think anyone was intended to show Introductory Level indefinitely. Right? I have a schooling show this weekend which is an excellent chance to give T2 a try. I've entered T1 and T2. What do you all think? How did you know when it was time to move up?
4/24/2012 11:07:34 pm
I use the criteria for qualifying for the USDF/CDS finals as an idicator of mastery of a level. These require so many scores, at so many USDF and/or CDS recognized shows by so many different judges. It is very specific and you can look it up. It is different for different levels and different for amateurs vrs open. Although you may love schooling show scores, ignore them for the purpose of advancing because the judges are usually not licensed.
Well, there's 2 times to move up: 1) at the end of a show season, once you've finished going after any specific awards or designations in any given level. And/Or 2) when it feels "right" to move up, normally with a combination of boredom of your current level/realization that it is a bit below your skill, and when the next level looks doable or only slightly challenging.
4/25/2012 11:12:14 pm
Sarah - I think this moves just feels right. I mentioned to Mia down below that I was feeling pinched at Intro level. With the move into training level, I feel like there are a lot more things I can work on and play around with. This level will definitely do for a while. But ... First Level is just around the corner! :0)
This is just my view... But the horse/rider combo should be training one level above what you're showing. Showing training level means you're working on lengthening and shortening the strides, and smaller circles. All of those exercises, to be done well, require that the horse have more engagement, collection, and connection. Otherwise you'll careen around feeling out of control. Since the tests are not to test you're ability to master a specific movement then waiting to move up is foolish. The tests give you movements that will show (or not show) the level of engagement, collection, etc of a horse that is building up to true collection. It's not like school, where you have to get x score to get a certificate and then you can move on. It's more like... if you were a runner and wanted to complete a marathon. Your end goal is the marathon, not the 5k. But you use the 5k to see how fit you are, or where issues might arise. It seems like most riders view the levels as "the end goal". Even if Grand Prix is not realistic, you should still train with that level as the main goal of dressage. Then it's no longer about a movement in a test, or a test level, but about the overall training of the horse and reaching true collection. It allows you to see the levels afro what they were designed to be... feedback to let you know if you're on the right path to hit the end goal.
4/25/2012 11:09:42 pm
I agree, Mia. I read the the directive ideas for each test and level very carefully. I love how the 2001 tests are organized (at the lower level, anyway), and can can see quite clearly that they are organized to build one upon the other. I remember looking at Training Level thinking, I'll never get there. Now I am looking at T1 thinking, we're getting close! At last night's lesson, we worked on those smaller circles and on lengthening once Speedy was balanced and between my aids.
4/25/2012 03:26:51 am
Where is the show? I want to go check it out! I learn so much by watching others ride.
4/25/2012 11:00:45 pm
Sandy - the show is at Hansen Dam, on the 210. It's about an hour and 45 minutes away. Probably too far for a casual visit! :0) There is a nice show in town on May 12 Rancho Rio. I'll be showing there as will most of the local riders. That would be a good to put on your calendar.
4/26/2012 01:50:43 am
Thanks for the info about Hansen Dam! I will definetly be at the show on the 12th as i will be one of the stewards :).
First. Definitely. With all the time you have put into shows and preparatory lessons, you are certainly ready for Training Level. This is especially true, because you have mentioned how improved Speedy's canter has become. Go for it!
4/25/2012 10:59:02 pm
That has been what I've been thinking. I think my intro experience has been a good one, but I think we're ready to do Training Level without the Intro C test to warm us up. We'll see how the T2 test goes on Sunday. :0)
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: