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Tell me about these dressage tests

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    Tell me about these dressage tests

    Hi all!

    I finally managed to do a virtual show this past week, and I was quite excited. Pony was very well behaved and we put in what I thought were good tests. Well, the results are in today - and not at all what I expected!

    I'll link them at the bottom. But I'll list the things I know could be improved ahead of time as a caveat and to save time.

    Both had mediocre free walks and poor stretchy trots. Canter lengthens were weak, not enough lengthen and no clear transition into and out of it. I ride like a potato, I just switched to a dressage saddle after 12 years in a jump saddle lol so I'm leaning up his neck and my lower leg is a hot mess.

    First level test 1
    https://youtu.be/T8lO2ymekr0

    First level test 2
    https://youtu.be/okuI_xrnBDg

    What do the experts think about these tests? I know most of you aren't judges, but where would you estimate scores to be? I'll link the actual scores after I get a free responses so I don't influence opinions.

    TIA! Please be nice lol I'm a sensitive soul.

    ​​​​​
    When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

    Official Secretary of Sass

    #2
    Without actually marking every movement, I think I'd put test 1 at about 62-63% and test 2 a little lower, maybe a 60%.
    My rider comment would be "be braver and ask for more", it's the sort of test the judge would sit in the box and click to try and will you to add a bit more activity.
    Generally his work is sitting at about a 6.5, and then there are some resistances in canter trans and loss of throughness in canter. Odd loss of balance/activity as well. His walk needs much more purpose. The lengthen trot he's rushing more than lengthening, if the step does get bigger it's very modest. Likewise canter lengthens, weren't really a lengthen so much as just a bit quicker down the long side.

    In test 2 both leg yields had too much neck bend, but the first was better than the second one. The second one you lost the quarters a bit, and lost the fluidness. His canter work wasn't quite as good in this test either. I can't remember whether the canter trans is a movement on it's own or included in the circles but his resistance carried on long enough that if it was two movements it will have affected both.

    But he does it all, he's relatively obedient except the canter trans, and keeps good rhythm except one bobble in one of your lengthens. The stretchy trot could be better but he did keep his rhythm and balance which is more than a lot of horses do!
    Last edited by nzrider; Aug. 2, 2020, 04:24 AM.

    Comment


      #3
      The good points were that you were accurate in riding the patterns and were rythmical. You seem to be able to ride straight, which is something everyone has to work on constantly. The horse was willing. So there was a lot to like. Once you establish a better position, more seat, better leg, more consistent hand - which all comes with practice - you will be able to ask for a lot more from your horse, getting him in front of your leg with more energy and ooomph so that his paces become more active. That will help you make greater difference between collected and extended gaits.

      I don't think your riding surface is very helpful as it looks a bit deep. Do you have eyes on the ground to help you? It is so much easier to have constant feedback.

      Oh yes, score. I would put you at a mid-point, as 'ok' but with plenty to improve.
      Last edited by Willesdon; Aug. 2, 2020, 05:48 AM. Reason: Added score
      "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

      Comment


        #4
        My friend and I did a few of these during lockdown, and out of curiosity each of us sent several of our tests to a few shows/ judges (all of whom were at least L judges with a couple of Rs and an S). There was a huge range in scoring-- one First level test literally received a 54 and a 66. I would have expected based on past results for it to be between a 59 and a 61 or so. Also one judge accidentally scored one of my tests twice and just the two scores she gave me were several points different.

        So I guess don't take it too much to heart.

        Comment


          #5
          After watching the first test, my impression is that the biggest problem is that the horse is not really through and on the bit as needed for First Level. That would affect all your scores. First level is a bit of a stretch for you both at this point.

          I assume that the horse was also trained as a hunter/jumper so he is cooperative but just doesn't have the dressage basics yet. Judges can be pretty strict on that (rightly so) though they vary a good bit, but I would guess in the mid- 50s to low 60s.

          Comment

            Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Willesdon View Post
            The good points were that you were accurate in riding the patterns and were rythmical. You seem to be able to ride straight, which is something everyone has to work on constantly. The horse was willing. So there was a lot to like. Once you establish a better position, more seat, better leg, more consistent hand - which all comes with practice - you will be able to ask for a lot more from your horse, getting him in front of your leg with more energy and ooomph so that his paces become more active. That will help you make greater difference between collected and extended gaits.

            I don't think your riding surface is very helpful as it looks a bit deep. Do you have eyes on the ground to help you? It is so much easier to have constant feedback.

            Oh yes, score. I would put you at a mid-point, as 'ok' but with plenty to improve.
            Thanks! That's about what I was expecting to hear.

            Not making excuses, but I agree the fitting wasn't helpful. The horse is coming out of an injury and out of shape, so I chose to do a slow but rhythmic test instead of an energetic first half and an exhausted second half.

            I haven't been able to afford a lesson since March, hence why I'm asking random internet strangers for validation 😂.

            ​​
            When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

            Official Secretary of Sass

            Comment

              Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by MsM View Post
              After watching the first test, my impression is that the biggest problem is that the horse is not really through and on the bit as needed for First Level. That would affect all your scores. First level is a bit of a stretch for you both at this point.

              I assume that the horse was also trained as a hunter/jumper so he is cooperative but just doesn't have the dressage basics yet. Judges can be pretty strict on that (rightly so) though they vary a good bit, but I would guess in the mid- 50s to low 60s.
              Thanks! As I said above, I agree I could've used more energy through the whole test. That probably would've made him more completely through.

              Horse was trained as a hunter/jumper but has been doing dressage for 4 years now, he has pretty solid and correct dressage basics when I can get my act together and ride properly.

              I'll also add that this is our second time doing first level - so we're not 100% solid on everything, but past training level if that makes sense.


              Final question for y'all, do you think we could improve enough in a month to be competitive at a rated show? The main reason for my asking lol. I'll be able to do 2 lessons first and we have only a month - but I won't go if we're not even going to be competitive. I don't need assurances that we'll win if we work hard, just that we'll fit in with the average rider level.
              When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

              Official Secretary of Sass

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by grandprixer View Post
                Final question for y'all, do you think we could improve enough in a month to be competitive at a rated show?
                As with many things in life, it depends. Mostly it depends on the competition. You can be first in your class with a score of 54%; you can be sixth, eighth, even lower with a score of 68%. Honestly, rather than going to at rated show at this point, I suggest that you spend the time and money on lessons and practice, on getting stronger, more comfortable in the dressage saddle, and getting the feeling of your horse being through.

                One specific suggestion I'll make is to learn to ride into your halts. I can see you taking your legs off, which results in loss of connection and the horse coming above the bit.

                Your horse is darling and you're off to a good start!
                "She is not fragile like a flower. She is fragile like a bomb."

                Comment


                  #9
                  I think you fit in with the average rider that I see in my region. He is a nice trying horse. I think he could have better gait quality when he finds your hands and knows the acceptance and push.

                  Focus needs to be on establishing connection to the aids. Work on your proper use of aids to connect in to a quiet, sympathetic hand. Sympathetic hand does not mean a loose sagging rein or open fingers. You can see many times that you are spreading the hands. opening fingers and the reins are not connected to the mouth. It can be surprising how much the weight might feel. He doesn't know where you are because those loose reins take your communication away. With proper connection to the hand you can take control of his shoulders and get straighter in the canter. The hand connection is core to all the work; the flow the straightness and balance from the complete circle of energy. This can be a very challenging concept for us old hunter riders to get. I feel I had to relearn how to ride when I went from hunter to Dressage in the 80s

                  You ride very accurate figures which is a huge plus. It is amazing how many points are lost by folks being imprecise .

                  I dont think, right now, you are showing what a judge would look for in a complete and finished first level horse, which is what you encounter at rated shows. Most horses at rated shows, in first level are training second level at home..

                  Without a quieter connection, (therefore acceptance of aids ,balance and tempo scores improve) with consistency, I would not show higher, stay at training level for this one perhaps do First one on the last day if you have the option in a Test of Choice class. Understand how tests are judged. Every time there is a lapse within a movement set from letter to letter, the points start sliding. It is not just the core of the figure that is judged but the work leading into and out of it.

                  Go to the show for fun and learning, you score sheet is your reward

                  Overall these rides look mid 50s , some might go slightly higher, some might be more severe, I know some judges would have given 4 for many of the movements; lack of balance acceptance and harmony..They expect more from a first level horse. It is not training level with more challenging movements Some would be more accepting at First 1/2 of bobbles, but they would note they come from a core issue.

                  If you can improve some of the work with a firmer but sympathetic hand to smooth out the flow and obedience/ acceptance, scores should improve a bit. Can you do it with only 2 lessons, that depends on your knowledge set and grit.
                  _\\]
                  -- * > hoopoe
                  Procrastinate NOW
                  Introverted Since 1957

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by grandprixer View Post
                    Hi all!

                    I finally managed to do a virtual show this past week, and I was quite excited. Pony was very well behaved and we put in what I thought were good tests. Well, the results are in today - and not at all what I expected!

                    I'll link them at the bottom. But I'll list the things I know could be improved ahead of time as a caveat and to save time.

                    Both had mediocre free walks and poor stretchy trots. Canter lengthens were weak, not enough lengthen and no clear transition into and out of it. I ride like a potato, I just switched to a dressage saddle after 12 years in a jump saddle lol so I'm leaning up his neck and my lower leg is a hot mess.

                    First level test 1
                    https://youtu.be/T8lO2ymekr0

                    First level test 2
                    https://youtu.be/okuI_xrnBDg

                    What do the experts think about these tests? I know most of you aren't judges, but where would you estimate scores to be? I'll link the actual scores after I get a free responses so I don't influence opinions.

                    TIA! Please be nice lol I'm a sensitive soul.

                    ​​​​​
                    Looks accurate. But overall I see a horse going under tempo, not tracking up behind at the trot, rolled behind the vertical at times (evasion) and inconsistent contact other wise. At the canter on long side, falling haunches in.

                    Honestly "forward" is the thing most ammies lose especially without good coaching. A decent dressage ride is much more forward and bigger steps even at first level than we tend to think. I would say work on forward first of all, his working trot should at least track up. Then work on getting more consistent reach into the bit.

                    Yes, your legs look very busy as if you are having to nudge the horse each step of the trot, but that's likely that you can't keep a steady leg when you post. As a hunter jumper rider you know the cure for this: two point and go for the burn! It's a rider strength thing. When you can post more off your thighs then your lower leg can be still. Having a bumping lower leg correlates to a horse ignoring leg aids and getting sucked back.

                    I would also work on hands. At the moment your hands still bob a bit at posting trot. They should be independent of the movement of your torso and stay motionless. It will help if you concentrate on keeping your elbows where they belong. Also, try to carry your hands in a stable position at the level of your belly button. At the moment your hands move around a bit and even drop below the pommel onto your thighs. Unsteady hands make it harder for the horse to find and accept steady contact.

                    Get more impulsion first even if that seems to make precision more difficult. Then work on contact. This is easier with more impulsion. And work on your own strength.

                    Depending on what the judge's frame of reference was, I'd say mid 5Os for an L judge at a schooling show and maybe down into the 40s for an R judge at a rated show depending on how correct the other riders were. I wouldn't bother showing again until you have got impulsion and then figured out how to remain precise with impulsion.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I agree with the mid 50s guesses, though some judges would put this in the 60s for sure, so it depends who was judging.

                      You need to look at how your work is going to help lead toward upper level work, as the point of it all is to continue developing the horse. I think you could easily have improvement to raise your score 5-10percent within a month with some intense time with a really good trainer - with a judge who is exactly the same level of toughness as this one. However, fixing the holes I see will take longer, and they are holes most of us have had.

                      Nearly every former hunter/jumper has trouble with elastic contact, correctly bent elbows, and not thinking we should pull down to get the head down- even after we intellectually know, our bodies still want to do it. Many years later, it's still a battle for me vs my instincts. But until you bend your elbows and keep bit contact only to the corners of your horse's mouth, you will have trouble keeping an elastic and steady contact. You need to learn to feel that you are riding your horse's hind legs up between your elbows and to your hands.

                      An example where you should be able to see that is in your canter transitions. It should feel like you are going over a cavaletti - your horse will lift up in front as the hind legs push into the canter. Instead, your horse drops through the withers and inverts. Your jumping background should help make that an easier one for you to fix. Those type of transitions are really necessary to get the sit behind needed to progress toward second level and beyond.

                      Overall, there is a ton to like about the two of you, just some basics specific to thinking of dressage as development of your horse to get there.
                      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

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by nzrider View Post
                        Without actually marking every movement, I think I'd put test 1 at about 62-63% and test 2 a little lower, maybe a 60%.
                        My rider comment would be "be braver and ask for more", it's the sort of test the judge would sit in the box and click to try and will you to add a bit more activity.
                        Generally his work is sitting at about a 6.5, and then there are some resistances in canter trans and loss of throughness in canter. Odd loss of balance/activity as well. His walk needs much more purpose. The lengthen trot he's rushing more than lengthening, if the step does get bigger it's very modest. Likewise canter lengthens, weren't really a lengthen so much as just a bit quicker down the long side.

                        In test 2 both leg yields had too much neck bend, but the first was better than the second one. The second one you lost the quarters a bit, and lost the fluidness. His canter work wasn't quite as good in this test either. I can't remember whether the canter trans is a movement on it's own or included in the circles but his resistance carried on long enough that if it was two movements it will have affected both.

                        But he does it all, he's relatively obedient except the canter trans, and keeps good rhythm except one bobble in one of your lengthens. The stretchy trot could be better but he did keep his rhythm and balance which is more than a lot of horses do!
                        exactly right! I only looked at test 1, but i had it about 63%
                        www.settlementfarm.us

                        Comment

                          Original Poster

                          #13
                          Y'all are spot on, I'm the idiot here! 59% and 62%.

                          Looking back, I can totally see where I went wrong in my self assessment of my test - I forgot the training pyramid was a thing 🤦‍♀️.

                          We spent 3 years at training level trying to get this horse to accept the aids and relax enough to function on the flat, so I've gotten myself ingrained in the mindset that rhythmic and relaxed test is all you need to win.

                          Hence, when my first level tests were smoothish and reasonably quiet, I was overjoyed at the lack of tension on his part and automatically assumed that it made the test perfect.

                          Whoops.

                          For the show, turns out there's no pre-registration, so I can just show up and decide my tests then. I'll school hard for first but drop to training if we don't make some real progress.

                          Thanks y'all!
                          When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

                          Official Secretary of Sass

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I am late in responding, but just wanted to say, I think you have a good foundation to work on and have gotten some great advice. In the first test, when you canter across the diagonal and transition down to trot, he is nicely up and open for a couple strides, and then it looks like you pull him a little back and down. I would be trying for more of that feeling in all of the trot work so he can be more free in his shoulders and through from the hind end. Shorten your reins a few inches and get your shoulders back and your hip angle open. This will also help him come up and through. I also noticed that you tend to be a little abrupt in picking up the reins from stretchy trot and free walk. I would try to do this a little more gradually, and make sure to use leg so he can reconnect into an elastic contact instead of banging the bit. Lastly, use your corners to build energy and prepare the transitions to lengthening or canter. The corner should be 3 strides of the inside hind, and you can think of energizing and coiling that leg through each corner, then stay sitting back and allow him to lift into the transition instead of having to chase him into it. Good luck!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              you are correct with rhythm and relax, so at first there are added requirements as you build, i always called dressage a progressive series of setbacks each level a higher set of demands to train to.

                              scribbler and netg spot on. working on your seat and learning how to get to that proper hand contact will be key. you may find some of this is easier in a sitting trot in your dressage saddle. posting trot is fine for shows but if you can get the connection sitting it might show better.




                              /
                              _\\]
                              -- * > hoopoe
                              Procrastinate NOW
                              Introverted Since 1957

                              Comment


                                #16
                                In watching test one around the 1:00 mark I thought to myself "envisioning myself in the riders body what would happen if I pushed my hands away from my body?" and the feeling I gut feeling is that the horse would drop their head but wouldn't actually take the contact down. From the look of the reins I envisioned the horse would feel light but unsure in my hand. Over the next minute you can see that guess play out with a weak stretchy trot. You mentioned in the OP that the stretchy trot wasn't strong but I think it is more a manifestation of where he is at in terms of his knowledge right now.

                                It looks like you're doing a great job with rhythm and relaxation. I don't think his understanding of the contact is ready for first level. From those two videos (just a moment in time) it doesn't look like he totally understands yet that he can reach out to the bit and keep an active conversation with your hand. it looks like he's learned how to be respectful of the bit but doesn't totally believe he can reach out to it for the duration of a ride. He reaches out and then drops down and then comes above and is subtly unsure.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by grandprixer View Post
                                  We spent 3 years at training level trying to get this horse to accept the aids and relax enough to function on the flat, so I've gotten myself ingrained in the mindset that rhythmic and relaxed test is all you need to win.
                                  This is me too - currently on my 3rd year at Training with my OTTB after 20 years riding hunt seat. I thought we were on the right track and ready to move up, but this weekend at my first show since January it was a real reality check slap in the face. I have a lot of the same problems as you, except my horse's aversion is going above the bit.
                                  http://trainingcupid.blogspot.com/

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    I didn't judge movement by movement, but I came out right about 60% on the first test. I was at 6 or 6.5 most of the time, with some 5s mixed in, especially in the canter. Rhythm, tempo, and accuracy were all good. He doesn't show the more consistent contact with the bit that we want at first level. That may be where he is in his education, and just something you need to focus on going forward, learning to move to the bit. Or, it may be that he wasn't able to show everything he knows about contact on that day because he wasn't forward enough to need to push from behind. I would stick with posting the trot, and work on creating more energy. Once you have that energy, I think you'll have an easier time educating him about contact and maintaining it.

                                    Going back to the directives always helps me. Training level is: "To confirm that the horse demonstrates correct basics, is supple and moves freely forward in a clear rhythm with a steady tempo, accepting contact with the bit." First level is "To confirm that the horse demonstrates correct basics, and in addition to the requirements of Training Level, has developed the thrust to achieve improved balance and throughness and maintains a more consistent contact with the bit."

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