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Why have the FEI tests gotten so much easier?

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  • Why have the FEI tests gotten so much easier?

    This is not meant to be a super-controversial discussion but I had forgotten how much harder the I1 used to be until I dug up footage of my mother riding her stallion in the mid-late 80's.

    *if this is viewed as advertising, it is not meant to be...just footage of the test in question & the horse is deceased*

    There was a swing rein back (trot-halt-back-forward-back-trot out), 4-8-8-4 zigzag, extended trot into medium AROUND the arena, as well as the regular extensions, mediums, 2s, 3s, full pirouettes and then the capper - a canter-halt-rein back-canter out on the last centerline before the final halt.

    Blame some form of amnesia but I honestly didn't remember the tests being HARD until I watched the footage. By comparison, the current test is a breeze. (I am not being snotty, I swear) But all of the HARD stuff is gone at I1...what is left is not easy by any means but it is a dumbed-down version of the old test.

    I remember the PSG had canter 10m 1/2 circles in true & counter canter with a single change on the long side to do the same exercise on the other rein. And there used to be a 6 loop serpentine & the swing (halt-rein back-forward-back). The canter zig zag used to be 5m-10m-10m-5m...where did all this stuff go?

    The GP has had major changes for crowd appeal (gone are the walk pirouettes, swing rein back, etc). Test B is is wa-aay easier than Test A was...so that too is part of my question...is the marketing aspect ruling what riders/horses are expected to do in the arena?

    Why did this happen?
    Last edited by Tasker; Dec. 12, 2007, 10:28 PM. Reason: zag not zap! whoops!
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  • #2
    How funny to see the indoor with out the dressage stands/banners/and people!!! My, how Raleigh CDI has come a long way since then.


    • Original Poster

      Actually it was an April show in Raleigh...I think before there was a CDI. I was 8 or 9 on that trip and on my spring break in Elementary school. I came home with a southern accent (its easy for me to pick up accents) and all my friends at home thought I'd been some where fancy...)

      But the place has changed...so has the sport (obviously). Sponsorship, advertising, etc play a huge role (and it's a good thing) but...why have the tests changed so much?
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      • #4
        Beautiful horse. About the ring, I remember showing in that ring in the same time frame with my Arab at the NC State Fair and breed shows, with those awful pickets along the top of the walls. If you were really lucky, and a kid was kicking on them, they would fall out on you as you went by on the rail!
        RIP Mydan Mydandy+
        RIP Barichello


        • #5
          well, if you can first tell me why the "best" rider in the world cannot get her horse to halt at x, then maybe i can tell you why the tests have gotten easier.


          • Original Poster

            class - Thanks for the heartfelt & sincere answer. Really, it helps a lot to enlighten everyone. This test is from '87...so a bit before that individual's break through on to the world stage...and besides, I believe my mom got a low mark on her halts as this fellow offers up some piaffe steps before squaring up...oh and he got marked down for being 'too expressive & having too much movement' but I digress...

            None of that stuff explains why the tests have changed!

            PP - yep, it was a different place back then! The fans still squeaked in the roof & the outside doors would bang...ah the joy of the indoor @ Raleigh!
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Tasker View Post
              class - Thanks for the heartfelt & sincere answer. Really, it helps a lot to enlighten everyone.
              Amen, sister, I was just thinking the same thing.


              • #8
                It seems class touched a nerve.

                I can't answer your question, but I remember being at Dressage at Devon back in '95 I think it was, and seeing beautiful tests all the way up to Grand Prix -- at Grand Prix the picture changed, a LOT of tension in many of the horses, pacey walks, etc. Does anyone know if the Intermediaire and PSG tests had changed by then?


                • #9
                  my answer was heartfelt and sincere. and you answered your own question when you said it was too hard. why don't people train their horses to levade or capriole? because it's too hard. why don't you have to jump a rolling barrel anymore? because it's too hard. why did they eliminate the swing? because it was too hard. what is the mystery?


                  • #10
                    In my opinion, today's FEI tests try to be a little more harmonious and easier to watch, not necessarily easier to ride. I do think that one of the goals is to attract more spectators which is evidenced by the emphasis on free styles.
                    Siegi Belz
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                    • #11
                      I think one of the main reasons was to make them shorter, especially in regard to the indoor shows in Europe. Those indoor shows only have one ring and have to stuff in as many tests as they can while leaving time for the jumping classes and other events. This has happened with all the FEI tests. The test in your tape was 6:45, and there were two breaks where something was skipped in the tape (some walk left out?). The current Int. 1 is 5:30. It's also part of the reason why the 1 minute warm-up round was tightened to 45 seconds (that's one rule we have copied from the FEI that I really don't like).

                      The only thing I see harder now is the trot half pass, all the way across the ring. The zig-zag was definitely tougher. They actually too it out for awhile in the '90s.


                      • #12
                        what did this stallion scores for his medium walk?


                        • #13
                          It is not just these upper level tests that have been dummied down. Yes, they are too hard...too hard if the horse is not being trained correctly....too hard if the rider has no seat...too hard if the horse is not in proper contact, but being pulled by the hands.


                          • #14
                            The canter tour of the 1998 (97?) Young Rider Individual test still gives me nightmares. Now it's the (yawn) Prix St. Georges, where if you get lost in the test, just go across the diagonal, and you're probably still on course.

                            I'm hoping to ride 3-3 and 4-3 next year with my nice young mare, which I think are the hardest tests currently out there short of the GP Special. I liked the technical questions of the old YR tests (not that I could ride them at the time), because they didn't require a super mover to score well. I think 3-3 and 4-3 fall into that category as well. The current PSG? Not so much.
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                            • Original Poster

                              class - sorry for snapping...I guess I misinterpreted the tone behind your response! Sorry for the misunderstanding!!! Whoops!

                              Funny thing about the swing - I always found it to be the best way to see if the horse was on my seat...but maybe that was just me. One of revisions of the GP a while back had either passage in or out of the swing and ooooo that still makes me cringe! I don't know how many times I got piaffe forward instead of walk...aaahhh!

                              grayarabpony - I don't have a clue when the PSG & I1 were changed. I do remember having to learn 5 new GPs in 4 years though! Try telling your schoolmistress (who knew if a right turn after a halt meant the GP and a left meant the Special, etc) that things had been changed each year! The Madam didn't think it was necessary to change Her Test!

                              Dressage Art - I don't have a clue for the walk scores. The test isn't up to be picked apart for scoring purposes - it was just up as is (without any editing from me, goodness knows what was missed/changed, the tape was in a box in a back room covered with dust) to show what used to be in the test. Scoring was a bit different back then in general - a 60something was a BIG score, so it is hard for me to guess. There is a filing cabinet in the basement that has all of the old tests, but I am not going to go digging to find this particular test - it was a long time ago. I was more annoyed that a ride from 06 is missing an entrance & other 'missing' bits from far more recent shows!!! urgh.

                              Margaret - Thanks for the explanation! It does make sense to have shortened the test but it really is much easier than it used to be. Having found it makes for new exercises for the ponies to practice this winter!

                              dressagediosa - when I did YRs it was the individual test that was the most technical but easiest to keep them on their game...difficult enough to keep them focused without 'free time' to get creative like the Preliminary test... But I agree about 3rd3, 4th3 & the GPS (love that test)...tough and real tests of where things stand!
                              Last edited by Tasker; Dec. 12, 2007, 10:44 PM. Reason: forgot something...
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                              • #16
                                All the tests have gotten easier. And shorter. Eventers do tests with no halt at the beginning of the test, in the interest of getting more entries processed in a day. Shows added Training level and then Intro level below First level. I have heard there is a movement to develop walk tests for those who don't want to trot. Show economics.
                                Regarding scoring. If a horse's nose went behind the vertical or the poll was not the highest point when this test was ridden, the movement was given a four. No Rollkur in the seventies or eighties!
                                "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist


                                • #17
                                  So, what you mean by "easier" is less technical?

                                  I have no facts, but it seems that it might be following (or leading?) the trend to great movement and harmony that has been attributed to the influence of the "German" horses?

                                  It's an interesting question ... I'd love to see the experienced FEI riders' and judges' opinions. What does your mother say?


                                  • #18
                                    I think no initial halt for eventers is a brilliant idea.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by not again View Post
                                      All the tests have gotten easier. And shorter. Eventers do tests with no halt at the beginning of the test, in the interest of getting more entries processed in a day. Shows added Training level and then Intro level below First level. I have heard there is a movement to develop walk tests for those who don't want to trot. Show economics.
                                      Regarding scoring. If a horse's nose went behind the vertical or the poll was not the highest point when this test was ridden, the movement was given a four. No Rollkur in the seventies or eighties!

                                      I was stunned the first time I worked an event rider through a lower test that had no halt. I didn't really see the point of taking it out. If you can mount and dismount, you can get a halt! And it really doesn't add much time to the test.

                                      Walk tests????? Egad, I'd HATE to have to judge that! How would the judges stay awake? Red Bull anyone?? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....
                                      "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"


                                      • #20
                                        The initial halt is actually a very difficult movement to do correctly, and as most event horses are very forward, especially the greenies at their first few events, why begin the test with an argument?