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The jump between First Level Test 3 and Second Level Test 1

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  • The jump between First Level Test 3 and Second Level Test 1

    Forgive me. I am just a dumb event rider.

    I am considering taking my prelim event horse to a local schooling show this weekend, just so we can get off the farm and stretch our legs. So, I was glancing at the First and Second level tests, figuring out which couple of tests would be appropriate for where we are in our work, and just give us something different to do other than the couple of USEA Prelim tests.

    And what I noticed was that the jump from First Level Test 3 and Second Level Test 1 seems HUGE to me! Am I alone in that?

    I haven't ridden the First Level tests since 2010 (so, they've changed and have allowed rising trot). I remember test 3 and 4 being fairly challenging for my then horse with decent amounts of counter canter work. But this new one just offers a simple loop. Then, you get to the Second Level test and you are being asked for 3 loops. The rest actually seems fairly sensible (I've already decided we won't be attempting it more for the collected and medium gaits required- his collected work is not strong enough for a whole test and his medium trot is non-existent), but the counter canter, especially, seems like a big, giant leap.

    So, is it a big jump now, from First to Second? Are people finding it hard to make that step? Or am I just clueless and missing something here?

  • #2
    It is a big leap, as Second level is the first one that requires collection. The shallow canter loops at First level are a preparation for counter canter. Most people I know who show are schooling at least one level above that where they show, so they are schooling collection, counter canter, SI, HI, and medium gaits as they are showing the shallow loop, lengthenings, leg yields, and working gaits.
    Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


    • #3
      The three loop serpentine effectively has a 20m half circle of counter canter. The first and third loop are in true canter.

      the amount of counter canter is about the same in the 2011 first three as was in the 2007 first four.


      • Original Poster

        Yes. I understand that. And my horse is fairly solid at the majority of the Second level/Intermediate work (collection is tricky since he's a hot little TB and he just struggles with medium trot. He just finds it hard). I was just shocked to see that the tests go from the shallow loop to 3 full loops. The eventing tests build on it more- a shallow loop, then a big loop from B to E, then on from there.

        Is there a reasoning behind the big jump instead of a little more of a progression? When I rode the old 1st Level 3 and 4, they seemed to ask for more counter canter. Am I mis-remembering?


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by SaddleFitterVA View Post
          The three loop serpentine effectively has a 20m half circle of counter canter. The first and third loop are in true canter.

          the amount of counter canter is about the same in the 2011 first three as was in the 2007 first four.
          We posted at the same time. That actually makes more sense when said like that! Thanks (my biggest struggle in dressage is geometry. Especially once I'm expected to loops and whatnot....and seeing it written instead of RIDDEN can boggle me a bit ).


          • #6
            I think you'll find that most horses can do passable second level work given good training. Some may never be able to collect enough for good scores, but shoulder-in, counter canter, turn on the haunches etc. are not that hard for most animals.

            The real hurdle is that the rider has to be able to sit the trot, and this is something that most dressage riders never learn to really do.

            The good news is that once you can manage 2nd, the rest of the levels just sort of fall into place until the I-1 to I-2 jump.


            • #7
              It can be rough if you dont have a good trainer with a good eye helping you get the horse doing collected work out of an "offer" vs you riding at them.

              Someone said recently that collection should just show up one day unnanounced. I like that.
              ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


              • #8
                When you school at home, gradually deepen your 1st Level canter loops until they resemble the Second Level serpentines. I had to sneak the counter-canter work up on my guy. As a former jumper, he had auto changes and I had to unteach him to change. CC creates strength and balance.

                Now we're doing flying changes and I had to remind him he KNOWS how to do them!


                • Original Poster

                  Actually, my guy's counter canter work is probably some of his strongest work (every now and then we have a meltdown in the right lead AT shows...never at home). We can counter canter all sorts of patterns and can pick it up on the straight. My question was more in general terms. I am certain he could do the three loops (I think). I just don't think I would bother with the test, even just for fun, because of a few of the other movements he's still settling in on.


                  • #10
                    The counter work is a big leap for sure. However I must say, when I was picking which second level test to make our debut at this summer, my trainer and I looked at all three. We had a strong counter canter but she would have burnt out at the time with the amount of canter work in second level test one. If you look at second level test three, there is far less canter work! There are other movements and transitions that make it harder, but it is an interesting difference. We actually jumped right to second level test three because those movements were our strongest as opposed to second level test one. I forget what's in second level test two, though..


                    • #11
                      I found that the biggest step up from 1st to 2nd wasn't the counter canter, but the simple changes. That's the part of the test where the quality of your collection (or lack thereof, as was often the case for me) really comes into play.

                      I sort of muddled through 2nd level with Ringo with pretty mediocre simple changes, and then paid the price for it this winter when we tried to start adding working pirouettes for the move up to 4th this spring and discovered that we had never really figured out that true sitting canter required for a good canter-walk (and a good pirouette). The simple changes were a killer with Dually when we moved up to intermediate as well, so I'd definitely suggest putting the homework in on those!

                      I'd also not count out 1st 3 - the movements come up quite quickly, especially the leg yield stuff at the beginning. (I can say this after having to ride it what felt like a million times last year for intercollegiate stuff)


                      • #12
                        I don't think the old first level tests had anything more than a loop of counter canter either.
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