The U.S. Equestrian Federation announced Sept. 25 the formation of the new Dressage Rider Tests Program for the 2013 competition year.
The program will help riders measure their progress at training, first and second level through tests specifically designed to evaluate the rider. The USEF Dressage Committee worked in conjunction with the U.S. Dressage Federation to develop the program.
"The new tests are designed to evaluate the proficiency of the rider relative to the requirements of the given level, without giving extra credit for the horse's gaits, impulsion and submission," said Lisa Gorretta, sub-committee chair. "Riders will receive constructive evaluations that they can put to use in improving their abilities as a rider. The principles of correct application of the aids, correct riding biomechanics and the accurate geometry of the figures are accessed through five scores evaluating rider's position, correct and effective use of aids, horse's response and performance, accuracy of the exercises and harmony between rider and horse plus written commentary."
The tests do not score each individual movement, but instead the rider over the entire test. Test score sheets are available to download with the other dressage tests when logged into the USEF website .
The training level rider test is mean to ensure the rider has mastered the fundamentals of riding, as written on the test:
To confirm that the rider sits in the correct posture and alignment and shows correct mechanics in walk, rising trot and canter. The seat is sufficiently independent for the rider to maintain a steady, elastic rein contact and encourage the horse to stretch into that contact. The horse is ridden actively forward showing impulsion and balance required for the level, bends equally to the left and right sides on turns and circles and makes smooth, willing transitions.
In the first level test riders are asked show increased balance and effectiveness of aids while performing more intricate movements. The test states its purpose as:
To confirm that the rider, in addition to the requirements of training level, shows correct alignment, posture and mechanics in sitting trot, including maintaining a steady, elastic rein contact. In turns on forehand and leg yields the rider remains centered and the horse responds willingly to the aids. The transitions are ridden in a better balance and with more throughness than at training level. In response to the correct application of the rider's aids, the horse moves actively forward showing a consistent tempo and correct rhythm in each gait, shows appropriate bending, lengthens and shortens the stride in trot and responds willingly to both longitudinal and lateral aids.
At second level, the rider should demonstrate consistency in all gaits and lateral work while showing enhanced skill from first level. The test states its purpose as:
To confirm that the rider, having achieved the requirements of first level, is able to ride the horse reliably on the bit with an uphill tendency. The rider lengthens and shortens the horse's stride in trot and canter while maintaining correct alignment, posture, and mechanics. In lateral movements the rider stays centered and demonstrates an appropriate angle and bending of the horse. As a result of the correct application of the rider's aids, the horse shows a greater degree of straightness, bending, suppleness, throughness, balance and self-carriage than at first level.