I would go watch a show before you compete in one and observe what the riders do and their marks from the judges.
I would think that trot steps are allowed at the absolute minimum, but I would make sure that my horse has all the movements next to perfect before competing...but I am a perfectionist to the point where I think it is a disorder
would strongly recommend watching some of these classes if you haven't already. it's a different world than a usual dressage test.
you should also know that there is still wide variation among judges as to how the tests are scored. I believe the USEF is trying to educate more judges but it's going to take time. the point of this is: don't get too upset about a bad score or too excited about a really high score unless you know they're coming from experienced judges (my favorites are Linda Zang, Hilda Gurney, Lilo Fore and Stephen Clarke, but there are lots of other good ones.)
showing these tests is not for the thin-skinned. some judges can be insulting. for example, one judge at Raleigh last year told a rider (who is a USEF judge) that her horse was alright but it was never going anywhere with her riding it.
I think the US is coming along but it's still developing.There seems to have been a stronger push each year to discourage folks w/o international talent (rider and horse.) that's probably been the goal from the beginning but it feels to me like the USEF has gotten more and more intolerant of average horses/riders in this program.
as for riding the tests: there's a video on youtube of steffen peters and janet foy working with some young horses and giving them tips on riding these tests. I think it's worth a look if you'd like to participate in the program.
p.s. I've been involved with several horses that have gone to Verden and have won YH regionals (Raleigh, Lamplight) and been successful in Ky. but
I'm pretty sure I won't be competing in the program again anytime soon. You can PM for details if you like.
the finale test is the one primarily used -- only one for qualifying -- it does indeed require sitting trot only, including stretch trot sitting which take some specific practice to accomplish nicely
however the "prelim" 5 yr old test which is used for the first day of the championships will have trot rising for the stretch trot only
they are correct that no trot in the c-w-c and you will be nailed if the haunches swing in during the transition, the horse jigs during the transition, etc. Also know that although the rules would say differently, it is common that judges will not judge according to the rules -- example -- it is super important to have a very good counter canter or else you will get nailed in the canter score, the submission score, and the overall impression score (even though it should mainly be submission and a bit overall impression)
for the 5 year old test the horse is expected to be showing at a similar level to a 2nd level test 1 that scores at least mid to high 60's, just so you are prepared for the level of expectation......though the method of scoring is quite different, the degree of training barring "young horse sillyness" is similar.
In my opinion they ask too much for the average training of the average horse that is currently 5 years old
Totally agree, especially given the fact that most of these horses are only 4 1/2 years old when beginning the qualifying process, which starts in January of the year the horse turns 5. Some of the movements in the 5yo YH test are equivalent to a 2nd level test.
The tests are for exceptional horses headed for the top levels. Horses that are exceptionally athletic and well balanced, even at a very early age. Such horses can be prepared for these tests by a skilled, experienced trainer and perform them with no strain at all.
These tests are NOT for average horses or riders. Unfortunately a lot of people seem to be gravitating to these classes where it really isn't appropriate.
The way these tests are ridden and scored is very, very different from the regular tests. The horses are VERY forward, and I don't think someone should enter in one of these classes without first seeing some of the video tapes of previous national and world championship classes. There is also a very, very public commentary and it is definitely not for the faint of heart.
The young horse tests are not like "suitability for dressage" classes. They are for really talented horses, with very good training, more advanced than the average 4,5,6 year old. You need to have very clear aids, the horse has to be on the aids, have engagement, and 2nd level collection.
The canter walk transition in the simple change is just that, the horse has to have enough training, balance, self carriage to do it well.