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How to Decide When and Where to "Move UP"

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  • How to Decide When and Where to "Move UP"

    I'm thinking I'm actually ready in my mind as well as my body to start eventing again...one of my big questions as I start putting the pieces together after years and a broken neck away from jumping easily around Training courses is: "how do you know when you're ready to move up"? My trainer, Lellie Ward, lives 2 1/2 hours from me so some of my training has to be "online" - not the actual training of my riding but the training of my riding brain. Keep in mind that this is a person who in the middle of a lesson on how to ride down a hill straight explains it all in terms of " think of your horse on a piece of graph paper...he's a slender triangle and it's your job to keep that triangle equally distributed in the quadrants..." Yep, gotta think when we're riding, especially with Lellie Ward.

    so, here's what Lellie explained to me one night about moving up...thought that all of us could ask our trainers the same questions and post the answers here. Will be interesting to read and discuss...

    "One reads a lot about move "move up courses". What is that? If one is going to enter a certain level, Novice or Training....any level,one needs to be PREPARED for all standard questions appropriate for that level. One should NEVER go to an event unprepared. The questions asked of the horses should NEVER be so difficult (especially at Prelim and below) that it should back a horse off. You aren't going to an event, Lynda, without you knowing ahead of time what you and Rasta can do WITHOUT me in any situation on that course...and you know we won't school it ahead of time.

    All courses up to Prelim should be educational for the horse. There may be some rider "frighteners" out there but certainly that is up to the RIDER To be prepared. ALL RECOGNIZED COURSES are checked out by the officials first. They have to be given the green light by experienced licensed officials. Usually at least 3 people: Course Designer, Pres of Ground Jury and Technical Delelgate. I can assure you they have the horses best interest at heart.. You've watched me ask Tremaine questions, Cindy questions, and I've answered theirs..These questions are important because the questions we ask horses and riders have to be fair, the footing has to be the best, or we don't run...there's the standard. So, I suppose I need to teach you more about what to look for yourself...

    The moral of the story is: Ride better and be better prepared for what you are asking your horse to do. If you have doubts, then you'll move down a level. Forget the clock and the prizes and enjoy your horse. Learn to ride and enjoy the partnership you've started with Rasta.

    Practice more than you ever thought you could while out there just hacking around. Get out of the ring and into the woods......Bond with the horse. Eventers are not made in the ring. Believe this... I'll run in front of you to stop you if I think you're going to crash..."

    I'm looking forward to reading what others post about how their trainers think about "moving up"...
    ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

  • #2
    I don't think it can be said any better than what you've got there! What a thoughtful trainer you have.
    Click here before you buy.


    • #3
      What a good bunch of stuff. No wonder you like her! Good girl!
      My trainer too is very adamant that we master the level. Not just the dressage which she always likes to have at least a level above the test, but especially in the jumping. If you are going Novice, you will be jumping training level at home easily. That's just her way and she has a slew of students riding all the up to Rolex successfully so it must be right. I like looking at the first fence on course and thinking, "I got this". Yes, it's practice, but it's also confidence knowing you have done those questions before at home and know what tools in the toolkit you have to use when things come up.
      The only thing I'd add is something Phillip really stresses, that the horse must be in front of your leg consistently, so much so that you can count on it no matter what.
      Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
      Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


      • #4
        Lellie really couldn't put it any better. Listen to her.

        I'm excited that you're thinking of heading out! I wish I lived closer so I could easily come and cheer loudly and wildly!!!!


        • #5
          What an excellent piece of info to put into my brain

          Thanks Lynda... and Lellie


          • Original Poster

            Yep, Lell's brilliant about horses, training riders and horses, has hysterical taste in chicken apparel, pajamas, and will mow her fields way into dark after riding and teaching all day. To throw some more laughter into the equation, the directive re: think about graph paper, triangles, and "make your horse straight DAMNIT" occurred late summer on my 3rd ride post "all clear to walk and trot" on this 17.1 hand PercheronX gentle giant that I needed to somehow navigate down this hill, walk across a log and drop down into the water. So, here I was, trying to remember how to even stay on the damn moving tower with 4 legs going downhill and Lellie starts instructing with geometric metaphors...

            But, we've got the start of this conversation from Ms. Ward - how about contributing your own trainer's thoughts? Never asked? Then go do it and post back when you've got them. We'll learn a lot more from lots of those wise folks out there...BFNE does a lot of work with Jimmy Wofford - anyone out there training with Phillip Dutton? Lellie's been working with him this winter while Phillip's been in Aiken - I'll ask her this weekend what Phillip has her doing cause I know she's looking at moving Peter Pan back up to Intermediate his next event with an eye on Advanced when he's ready...

            Go ask your trainer!!!
            ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan


            • #7
              Gee I didn't know so much thought was put into moving up. I just kinda did it.
              It felt right, only had on rider looky jump on course, stadium was scary but I pretended the triple was the fruit stand on the xc course and we were good.
              But what Retread said; we'ld be schooling xc novice and some training for awhile. Jumping stadium at novice level for over a year. Dressage was what it is.
              I too am interested in what other event trainers say about moving up. Off to re-read Jim Wofford books to see if I can gleen what he says about it...


              • #8
                that's all great advice from your trainer.
                I put exactly this question to a few top U.K. riders last year, here are their responses: http://www.eventingworldwide.com/stepping-up-a-level/