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level by age

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  • level by age

    I recently read and article about a 6 year old horse competing at third level. A long time ago I was told to expect to progress a year a level. Possibly training and 1st level could be accomplished in one year in a more temperate zone than I enjoy.
    Is the suggestion of it takes a year to train/condition a level (assuming one has the time and coach to put in the time and training) an accurate progression?
    thank you.

  • #2
    Originally posted by colorfan View Post
    I recently read and article about a 6 year old horse competing at third level. A long time ago I was told to expect to progress a year a level. Possibly training and 1st level could be accomplished in one year in a more temperate zone than I enjoy.
    Is the suggestion of it takes a year to train/condition a level (assuming one has the time and coach to put in the time and training) an accurate progression?
    thank you.
    Assuming a sound horse with a good work ethic and a skilled trainer or pro rider, yes that is very reasonable. For an ammy working on their own, or taking a couple of lessons a week without training rides, the progression will likely be slower.

    There is a lovely amateur in our barn who competed with her 9 year old draft cross at I1 last year. They have moved up a level a year, every year since Training Level to get to that point, getting solid scores at each level.

    She’s a very talented rider, she works hard, and the horse is in a training program. It’s not the average experience but it’s definitely possible.

    Comment


    • #3
      The FEI 6yrs old test is 3rd and 4th level movements.

      Horses of 7 year of age can compete at PSG, they’ve put that rule because they wanted to protect horses from being pushed too fast, so a 6yrs old doing 3rd is not that out of the ordinary.

      BUT, like BigMama1 said, it’s not for everyone nor every horses.
      ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

      Originally posted by LauraKY
      I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Agreed with what was already said. Because she was behind that timeframe (she had a foal) my young mare was not priced like a young horse contender. Since I want her doing Grand Prix into her 20s, I don't care.

        My older mare progressed slower when younger, but prior to her non-riding injury which has kept her out, once she got to schooling 3rd level, the basics we had focused on had her schooling well above 3rd level without having to try - she now has all the aids understood through GP work, so it will be about fitness to get there and maintain elasticity, and we may go up more than a level a year once back at it. But she will dictate that.

        For a horse who matures earlier than she did, one level a year can be very easy.
        If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
        -meupatdoes

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        • #5
          Yes. With a horse that has some talent, a rider that knows the work (isn't learning alongside the horse), and a consistent training program, it's very doable. Training and 1st as a 4 year old. 1st and 2nd as a 5 year old. 3rd and 4th 1 as a 6 year old. 4th 3 and Dev PSG as a 7 year old. I2/Dev GP as an 8 year old (or much more commonly, small tour as an 8 year old and Dev GP at 9).

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Just to clarify, its not something I am aiming for, just wondering about the progression. thanks

            Comment


            • #7
              Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done. Young minds and bodies are far too fragile to be pushed to 3rd/4th at 6.

              This is why so few horses who are stars in the young horse stuff never made GP. Their minds, bodies, or both just can’t take it.

              I don’t even sit in mine until age 4.
              Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.

              Comment


              • #8
                Really really depends on horse, rider, and program. Carl Hester speaks very intelligently about this in his book "Real Life Dressage." He does mini case studies on several horses in his program, and talks about the importance of preserving the physical and mental soundness of all horses. He highlights a few young horses who he sees as having tremendous potential - easily showing tempi changes and the beginnings of P&P very very early, and how he is extremely careful not to actually school those movements but, knowing the ease at which the horse can perform them, that horse will likely be able to move up in terms of showing quite quickly. The key thing here I think is that as a very talented, experienced pro rider, Carl himself doesn't need to drill the one-tempis, for example. So he can work, say, a 7 year old in a manner that develops its physical strength appropriately, and then capitalize on the natural talent of the now-physically-strong horse to execute high-level movements quite sparingly (such as in test prep and then the actual test).

                For us mere mortals, the amount of schooling we would likely need to do to get the 3rd level movements solidified and reliable is more likely to be far too much for a young horse both mentally and physically.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kashmere View Post
                  So he can work, say, a 7 year old in a manner that develops its physical strength appropriately, and then capitalize on the natural talent of the now-physically-strong horse to execute high-level movements quite sparingly (such as in test prep and then the actual test).

                  For us mere mortals, the amount of schooling we would likely need to do to get the 3rd level movements solidified and reliable is more likely to be far too much for a young horse both mentally and physically.
                  This makes sense. I've always wondered why there were so many horses doing 3rd/4th level by the age of 6 when its been said that the back is the last set of joints to fully development around 6 years-old.

                  I wish I could "audit" a BNT's program for two weeks straight and just ask a million questions to understand things from their perspective.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mydogs View Post

                    This makes sense. I've always wondered why there were so many horses doing 3rd/4th level by the age of 6 when its been said that the back is the last set of joints to fully development around 6 years-old.

                    I wish I could "audit" a BNT's program for two weeks straight and just ask a million questions to understand things from their perspective.
                    No kidding! I really highly recommend the book if you can get your hands on a copy. It's not super in depth, but it is very interesting and an "open" discussion of how a top training program works. For example, he shows conformation pictured of horses at his barn and points out both strengths and weaknesses, and then talks about his plans to individualize each horses' program to best suit their physical development and their temperament. He also shows sequences of movements that are not perfect and talks about correcting them effectively. It's a great read.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      BNTs are in it for the money. It’s how they make a living. But, even the best barns are filled with story after story of horses whose careers ended early because they were pushed too far too fast.

                      It’s not just dressage. Horses in all disciplines suffer because BNTs and really anyone looking to make a buck prioritizes speed over anything else.

                      The horses are disposable, like a bicycle, just buy another when it breaks.
                      Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'll take "Sweeping Generalizations" for $100, Alex...
                        Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by colorfan View Post
                          I recently read and article about a 6 year old horse competing at third level. A long time ago I was told to expect to progress a year a level. Possibly training and 1st level could be accomplished in one year in a more temperate zone than I enjoy.
                          Is the suggestion of it takes a year to train/condition a level (assuming one has the time and coach to put in the time and training) an accurate progression?
                          thank you.
                          Not really Any horse will take the time that horse needs to move up the levels or peak at a given level.

                          The young horse classes are not something to judge your horse by, many of them are lame later in life.

                          Your horse might easily understand flying changes, maybe not. My former mare could passage/school piaffe before she "got" flying changes, A friend of mine showed GP as a 9 year old and then went lame.

                          You have to listen to your horse's needs, #1. #1. Number one.
                          Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            No kidding....

                            My mare will be 5 this year. We took it very slowly with her up to now as she is a beast (now above 18hh) and she did not go forward (or could not care less about listening to anyone ). Now she is picking things up lightning fast, so we're working on 1st and a bit of 2nd level - and by me I mean my trainer for the most part.

                            We're definitely not going to hit 3rd at 6, but that's okay. At her size, I am in no rush. Other younger horses in our barn are definitely more advanced than us, but c'est la vie. It's all horse-dependent.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If you have a talented horse and a capable rider, it can be done. Some of these horses don't even show at the lower levels - for some horses, the work is very easy, so the trainer puts the basics on them for a couple of years (often starting them at 3.5), builds up strength and confidence, doesn't do a lot of "tricks", then at about 5 years old, they start working on collection - the horse is plenty strong at that point, and if it offers up the work, it is very easy to do 2nd/3rd level, even try some 4th level at 6/6.5.

                              I sold a nice youngster as a 2 year old - Friesian cross (I use to breed Friesian/WB crosses). His owner is an AA, but a capable one that rides with a good coach. She showed him a couple of times at Training, pretty much skipped the show circuit again until he was 6. Then came out at 2nd and 3rd level - got her bronze medal and was USDF Regional Champion at 2nd two years ago. Showed just a couple of shows to qualify and get her bronze scores, then went to Regionals. Kind of a fun side-story - two of the "boys" I bred were at Regionals that year, both by the same sire, and they won 2nd level and 3rd level Region 7 AA divisions, AND the Equitation Championship. Both were Friesian/WB crosses.

                              She spends most of the time just doing basics - he is mostly ridden like a Training/First level horse, building strength and fitness. For him, the lateral work and flying changes were super easy. So it isn't like there is a lot of hard training required - it is really about building strength and fitness for the talented young horses. Lots of stretching, lots of transitions, play with collection for a few minutes here and there. Not every horse follows that path, and for some horses that is NOT the right path.

                              The general rule with a capable horse and rider is a level/year (and Training and First are considered a single level, many pro riders skip Training Level), but reality is, every path is NOT straight. So you might do a level/year, then hit a snag, and spend an extra year at a level. If you go into it thinking - I HAVE to get to the next level - you will have problems. Too many people try to skip the basics, or smooth over something that doesn't work, and it will come back to bite you later on. Every movement ends up being a building block for a higher movement. So if one of those building blocks isn't there, later on, you'll crumble... It is perfectly OK to spend extra time at a level - or at every level!

                              If you have a talented young horse, the other thing to remember - don't get greedy! Carl Hester points that out too. I've seen a few nice young horses ruined because they were pushed too hard, too soon - they got angry and resentful. It has to be fun and interesting for the horse, and FAIR.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I again agree with the "it depends" folks.
                                my trainer had a mare who was doing most of 2nd level st 4, with few rides on her. However, she was tight and they kept her to training / 1st and working on relaxation. After she was relaxed they would string together lateral movements which were easy. But they did the right thing by holding back her show progression to get the relaxation she needed to progress all the way up the levels. She showed 4th at 8, and I got to ride her a couple times lately and learned she has gotten far easier to ride as she progressed. Yes, I have learned buttons the way my trainer teaches them and therefore knew how to ask, but her gaits have gotten more rideable, and where she used to feel "stuck" as she hovered above the ground, now she is much easier to get going. It was worth the time for her.

                                My older mare always had a trot which took more time to develop. Lateral work is easy for her, but it was developing a decent collected trot and uphill balance in trot which took us more time. For her, the lateral work helped in that body development. Where she has 4 tempis and pirouettes, trot is still less advanced. But her piaffe is nearly ready to go. So we should progress faster at higher levels than lower, most likely!

                                My young mare is basically opposite in her strongest talents. Her trot is easy, but a year and a half into working under saddle, it has been in the last week I have finally felt the mechanics of her hind end working such that I see canter pirouettes in her future. She is all power, less bend, whereas my older mare is all sit and bend, less power.

                                My TB is between the two, and a 3 year old unstarted version of him would likely progress the fastest! I got him after his racing and eventing careers, so I can't say for sure. He has the best natural balance, best canter by far, and while the youngster will probably exceed him in trot quality eventually, his balance and talent in the trot started out more athletic than she is.
                                If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                                -meupatdoes

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