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  1. #1
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    Oct. 24, 2007
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    Question First attempt at higher level...

    yesterday and I didn't score very well in the mid 50's. Overall, I was pleased with my test - but I got mostly 5's and 6's with one 7. I know I'm losing points where it counts, such as free walk.

    Does a crappy score mean I need to drop back down a level for a while or should I keep working on those coefficient spots and keep trying at that level?



  2. #2
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    First, you'll lose the same points at the free walk no matter what level you're riding. What level was this test?
    Quote Originally Posted by Linny View Post
    Those martingales were so taut, you could play Ode to Joy on them with a comb



  3. #3
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    If you know you are capable of getting better scores, and you aren't looking to win a championship, keep working at this level. If you and your horse are completely in over your heads, drop back down.

    I wouldn't show my horse beyond his ability, but a few low scores are no big deal to me. It's a challenge for me and motivates me to improve.



  4. #4
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    If your scores were 5's and 6's because the basics (connection, suppleness, submission, collection, etc) aren't established enough for the level - then drop down a level or work on the training and show again when you are more ready.

    If your scores were due to tension in the arena, mistakes etc., then keep showing



  5. #5
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    I'd give it another shot before making the decision... if there was (understandable) tension from riding the test for the first time ever in public, it's easy to make a hash of things that you know are otherwise solid.

    Do you have some inexpensive schooling shows you can go to? If you see a pattern of low scores, then yes, you probably need to drop down and close some gaps, but you may just need to smooth out the rough edges which will let you both relax...
    "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."



  6. #6
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    Oct. 24, 2007
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    Silly Horse - it was First Level.

    I got quite a few comments about late transitions and circle too big. I think a big factor is always riding in a field or in a jump arena w/ no letters, so I don't practice riding with correct geometry. I also got nervous about forgetting the test and found myself totally blanking on doing a half halt when needed, etc. I'd get to the end of one movement and think "shi+! there's another coming up at the next letter...oh no!" and stop riding the one I was on.

    If you know you are capable of getting better scores, and you aren't looking to win a championship, keep working at this level. If you and your horse are completely in over your heads, drop back down.

    I wouldn't show my horse beyond his ability, but a few low scores are no big deal to me. It's a challenge for me and motivates me to improve.
    How can I know if I'm capable of better scores? I know I have better lengthenings and stretchy circles at home, so how else can I get used to putting in the same performance at a show unless I just do it? I just haven't shown dressage much so I wondered if a 55 meant I should just go home and quit wasting the judge's time.

    Still, its not like first level is beyond our ability. I'm not trying to make him piaffe or something, LOL! I did get a video and its not horrifying. Its quiet and workmanlike, just not quite through and supple, like it should be. This is our hang up, especially at a show. I get nervous and my tendency is to drop the contact.

    I hate feeling disappointed after a show. A crappy score makes me just want to trail ride. I wish I was one of those people who saw it as a challenge to do better next time.



  7. #7
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    If you were having geometry and test-riding issues and gave away a lot of marks that way - I'd work on those and give it another shot! You're not going to be able to fix either of those by riding at a lower level; is it possible to stake out an area to help you work on the geometry?
    "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."



  8. #8
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    Apr. 22, 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by DinkDunk View Post

    I wondered if a 55 meant I should just go home and quit wasting the judge's time.
    Of course not!! go to some shows and see what scores you get. ( you know, a lot of the time it also depends on how your judge's mood is that day. or how educated the judge is.) like I said, go to a few more shows and see what scores you get ( from different judges) then if you still do not score where you'd like to be or think you deserve, then stay home for a while and train on the movements where you get low scores.

    Good Luck!

    also, maybe try getting some of those dressage letters that you can stick in the ground. first measure a 20 60 arena, then put the letters in the grass. you won't even need rails
    Last edited by DutchDressageQueen; Jun. 26, 2011 at 01:53 PM.



  9. #9
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    Aug. 28, 2007
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    All you need to create a dressage arena is enough flat ground, a stick, 62m I'd twine and a can of spray paint. Oh and a measuring tape
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by DinkDunk View Post

    How can I know if I'm capable of better scores? I know I have better lengthenings and stretchy circles at home, so how else can I get used to putting in the same performance at a show unless I just do it? I just haven't shown dressage much so I wondered if a 55 meant I should just go home and quit wasting the judge's time.
    I think you answered your own question. You know you can do the movements better, therefore your are capable of better scores. It just takes practice.

    I hate feeling disappointed after a show. A crappy score makes me just want to trail ride. I wish I was one of those people who saw it as a challenge to do better next time.
    Look, it was your first time at 1st level and you made some mistakes. There's a strategy to riding a test -- it doesn't just come without effort and practice.

    The judge didn't give you ho-hum scores to make you feel bad. Take the judge's comments and learn from them. You should always be looking to improve your scores. That's what it's all about. It's no reason to be humiliated.

    On the other hand, showing isn't for everyone, and there's nothing wrong with trail riding.

    But if you do show again, you might consider entering two classes. In 1st level, my horse always did better the second time through.



  11. #11
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    May. 19, 2010
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    Don't give up! If you were nervous about forgetting your test than perhaps try memorizing it to such a level you can do it backwards, literally (and practice picking up any movement from anywhere in the test). Or get a friend to be your caller. My point is that if you ride your horse and not the test, you'll relax and you and your horse can work on the connection and other issues. I would also put together an arena with markings as per Ibex and Petstorejunkie's suggestion. That will help with accuracy. I'm also coming back to showing after a year's absence post a disastrous test so I know how you feel (My score was a lot worse though). Its also OK to take a step back and work on your weak points. I've enjoyed the journey but if I was you I wouldn't leave it for as long as I did. The insecurities and show nerves just build up in your head to monumental proportions Good luck and keep plugging away at it



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DinkDunk View Post
    How can I know if I'm capable of better scores?
    Your trainer should be able to assess the capability of you and your horse. Riders without a lot of show experience would do best to have their trainer with them at shows and working a home preparing for the show.



  13. #13
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    Why you show drives whether you want to drop back a level. If you are trying for rider medal scores, you need 2 scores over 60% in each level for that medal.

    If you are looking to be the high score of the show, then yes, drop back.

    I hover in the 58-62% range, no matter what level. I used to be a 48-52% rider, so I've improved a lot. Now, I'm a very 6 rider on a 6 - 7 horse...sometimes I bring my 5 horse and get mid 50s scores. I work on it, but I'm having fun. I'm an amateur, work a full time job, and while I ride more than many amateurs, I don't have unlimited time, nor an unlimited lesson budget. A lesson a week is my average these days.

    I have no delusions of grandeur. I also trail ride, go to hunter shows, jumper shows, etc.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by dudleyc View Post
    If your scores were 5's and 6's because the basics (connection, suppleness, submission, collection, etc) aren't established enough for the level - then drop down a level or work on the training and show again when you are more ready.

    If your scores were due to tension in the arena, mistakes etc., then keep showing
    I misunderstood - I was thinking by higher level you meant 3rd 4th or PSG.

    Sounds like if you could practice the tests in a ring you could get a big change in your score!



  15. #15
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    Apr. 2, 2010
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    I experienced something similar when I moved my OTTB to 1st. I don't show him much and was horrified when he scored in the 50's at 1st 3 and 4 after a lot of time with a BNT.

    He tossed his head constantly which led to many comments about not being steady on the bit. He also gave away a lot of points on simple stuff (went straight up on canter departure and then picked up wrong lead).

    He wasn't anything like he is normally so for me, it all came down to needing more show mileage than dropping down a level.



  16. #16
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    We are dipping our toes into Second (just rode my second Second Level test today!) and I agree with other posters who have said - it just depends on your motivation for showing. For me, I look to the comments and scores to reflect the progress we've made in training. We have shown several First Level tests with scores hovering in the low to mid 60s. We are consistent and capable - we have been schooling the Second Level movements for a while and are now schooling Second/Third Level movements at home, so it is time to move up.

    Our first attempt at Second we (I) made a couple of silly errors and scored fairly low in the mid 50s. Today I was mindful of those errors (learned from the first try!) and we had a fairy consistent test, though a bit tense/stiff and improved by a couple of points in score. So, obviously my goal for the next show is to improve again! Take each test and the judge's comments as a learning experience - that's what it really is.

    Also remember that as the levels go up, so do the expectations. It sounds as though you are totally capable to be showing at your level but need to continue working on elements like the geometry that really can make a difference between earning a mediocre score versus a good score.
    Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by xrmn002 View Post
    I experienced something similar when I moved my OTTB to 1st. I don't show him much and was horrified when he scored in the 50's at 1st 3 and 4 after a lot of time with a BNT.

    He tossed his head constantly which led to many comments about not being steady on the bit. He also gave away a lot of points on simple stuff (went straight up on canter departure and then picked up wrong lead).

    He wasn't anything like he is normally so for me, it all came down to needing more show mileage than dropping down a level.
    Other than my not being horrified - I could have written this.

    My horse looks/feels like he should score in the 70's at home. And our first time showing 1st level I walked out of the arena, looked at my trainer, and said "Do we think I got a 40?" It was awful, but it was related to misbehavior and tenseness, rather than not being ready for the level. We warm up with 1st level work, then work on harder things after that at home. If he were a possible resale prospect or I were going for high points, I would absolutely drop down to training. Since he isn't and we're not, I just keep at it, and he improves each show. Our last show he was recognizable as the horse I have at home, even if still way too tense. It sometimes just takes many miles.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

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  18. #18
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    Oct. 24, 2007
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    Thanks, everyone, for the replies. I am going to just keep working at this level and fix the stupid errors and hopefully w/ more mileage at the schooling shows we can get our scores up. If not, who cares? I don't usually have delusions of grandeur, but I admit I had higher hopes for the outcome of that test, LOL. I'll try to readjust my expectations, next time.

    I'm not trying for any medals or awards or anything, I just like going to a show and feeling proud of my horse - which I did until I saw the score. I guess that means it was worthwhile to go to the show since I think I have a different idea of how I'm doing vs. what they're looking for at that level. I need to be a bit more focused in my daily riding to the requirements of the test. I admit that I figured since I can do the individual movements, surely I could just put them together for one test. I guess that didn't really work! My normal plan of "lets wing it" didn't pay off this time!

    Quote Originally Posted by ToN Farm View Post
    Your trainer should be able to assess the capability of you and your horse. Riders without a lot of show experience would do best to have their trainer with them at shows and working a home preparing for the show.
    I do take lessons, but I have never had a trainer that prepped me for shows and helped out the day of. I take lessons just to improve my riding, not to show. I didn't even discuss what levels to do w/ her, I just said I'm doing this and this...we'll see how it goes. Maybe next show I'll ask for more input and specific instructions on how to prepare. I do envy those of you who have a trainer that guides you through the whole process. That must make things easier. I've never had that, even as a kid, so I never considered looking for that type of program.



  19. #19
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    Sorry you were dissappointed by your test scores, but a few things to consider. One is maybe get someone to coach you a bit at shows until you are more comfortable with the level. I coach my riders, and occasionally do "non-students" if you are itnerested, suspect you were at MacNairs yesterday, which I was there with two riders and three horses. The thing about riding a test, vs. "being able to do the movements" is, the movements are in succession in a test and you must be preparing for the next movement when the current one is happening! In First Level things come up faster than training, the movements happen at more "precise" places, that is, not so much of the "between letters" for a movement to occur as in training level, but "at the letter". When I teach my students, we always have a lesson before a show to actually ride THE TESTS and go thru what you need to be doing. We ride the tests, talk about the "issues" and reride the tests. But should you quit with a 55%, no! I figure a 55 or above is a good STRATING point and a place to improve from. FYI I do haul in lessons at my farm so if you are interested let me know! But don't despair, as you get more used to the test, things WILL get easier!!



  20. #20
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    My first attempt at second level (after consistently scoring mid 70s at first) was a disappointing 56 or so. I rode it way too conservatively, with only a few mistakes, but utterly dull and uninspired.

    I chalked it up to experience, came out a month later at 2nd one and 2nd two, won both classes, was high score and was in the low seventies. We didn't lose a class at second level for another year, and was high score at the level at every show.

    So, no, you can't always tell what the first show will bring. Make an arena, don't throw away cheap points on geometry, and give it another go. You might be surprised.



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