When they were first being done. We had a show, and it was probably recognized. There were two riders, my friend and myself. There were no other riders, and I don't believe there were any limitations on it. Hilda Guerney was the judge. I rode to a part of Beethovens 9th symphony, and Doris rode to 'The Voice' by The Moody Blues. She won. Whenever I hear that song, I always think of that show.
It was at Hunter's Vale in Johnson Co Kansas in the 80's. They were baling hay in the field RIGHT next to the ring. [Different owner of the field of course.] It sucked if you were riding when the balers went by!
Canadian Pony Club has walk/trot freestyles, walk/trot drill teams and Prix Caprilli at two levels, in addition to a Training level freestyle. It's cute. It's fun. The kids love it. Why is that a bad thing? Low-level freestyles and drill team definitely helped keep some of the kids I worked with interested in dressage. That's the goal, right?
When I organized shows for Pony Clubbers (or in-house shows for a very new-to-dressage clientele that included novice adults) it was important to choose a judge with the temperament to be able to sit through, score and comment on a whole pile of low level tests. Not all judges are good at that/don't want to do that. Find one that is willing to do it and then let all the participants have a good time.
I don't get all the pearl clutching replies though. Personally, I wouldn't pay a giant pile of money to ride a training level freestyle at a big show, but I have (and will again) ride them at schooling shows.
Founder of the "I met a COTHer in a foreign country" clique!
Personally, I am pretty darn excited about this. I just bought my horse in December of last year and we are finally starting to make some head way in our showing (schooling).
My former passion, when younger, was both Marching Band and Wind Ensemble. I played the clarinet and took Music Theory to heart - writing a quartet my senior year of high school AND performing it. Music allows my mind to relax...and in the saddle - that is a WONDERFUL thing. I overthink my aides way-to-much! When I plug in my iPod and take a spin...my horse is seriously THANKFUL, as I am not ridged in my seat, my hands relax and I follow my horse's movement much, MUCH better.
The addition of a Training Level Freestyle is going to be fabulous for our local GMO. Some of you say it's going to be boring...I beg to differ. The musical selection, editing and "way of going" of the horse and rider is what will allow the audience to forget that it's a lower level test. There are some serious co-efficients for this test....with "4s" for Harmony between Horse and Rider and Choreography and "3s" for Music suitability and Interpretation. My guy is a clydesdale/tb cross. Our music is going to be intense...a musical mixture that I am hoping people will remember and talk about for a while! AND, as someone else mentioned, will be easy to "tweak" into a higher level freestyle.
In the end...we want more people interested in Dressage. We can't step on and belittle the lower level riders...as one day they COULD be the next FEI super star. Everyone has to start at the beginning. It's time to embrace and cheer them on
Awwww, I've judged Training Level freestyles at a few schooling shows - they were actually kind of fun! The music perked up some of the horses, and a few people were pretty creative in how they choreographed. For someone who hates judging Training Level, I suppose the Freestyles will be "boring", but a judge is paid to JUDGE, including Intro and Training Level. I don't think we're going to see dozens of these freestyles at a show, but I think it is a nice option for those who want something creative to do with a Training Level ride.
And you can put together a freestyle without months and months of work - esp if you are already riding to music and have some idea of what works for your horse. We slapped together an FEI musical "exhibition" ride in a week - music editing, choreography, etc - it was a little frantic (the process, not the final result), but I think a person could put together a freestyle in a month or two. Might also be something you put together early in the season, then be able to show the following season along with a debut at First Level.
I think it will be great for young horses who feel some comfort with music, for young riders who might get bored with plain ol' training level, and for some adult ammies who are newer to dressage - not everyone moves up a level every 6 months or a year!
Thank you USEF/USDF for offering something to the Training Level riders!