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Moving Up Levels: How fast is too fast?

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  • Moving Up Levels: How fast is too fast?

    I am a pretty new competitor, and have only been to a couple events ever. Even though I am new to the show ring, I have schooled and worked with horses at training and a bit of prelim.
    My current horse is a 6 year old Iberian warmblood who has never been to a horse show at all. Well, actually he really hasn't even been started jumping yet. (we're moving up from crossrails)
    I was hoping that if I could work hard the rest of this year, and next I'd have him ready for some Beginner novice next spring, and possibly be doing novice at the end of 2013, and move on to Training in 2014. (assuming I make it to several shows both years)

    But, for a horse that is a baby when it comes to jumping, would that be too fast? Should I dedicate one whole year for each level?
    I know some people who never move on from beginner nov, or nov or have been staying at training level for years before moving up.

    Part of me feels that this is too fast, because he is still young, but another part of me feels like it shouldn't be a problem for him, he has a great mind and is a very fast learner.
    Another thing that made me think about this was this video, from Doug Payne. He brought Running Order from Novice to CCI**** in 4 years.

    any input is appreciated

    Edit - I don't want anyone to think I am comparing myself to Doug Payne!!! I am years and years away from getting to that high of a level
    Eventers of the West
    A Facebook group I created for Eventers in the West Region of the U.S.
    Remy - My OTTB Gelding! Love him to pieces!

  • #2
    Someone like Doug Payne has been riding and eventing for many, many years. He has the experience to not only train a horse correctly to that level in a "short" period of time, but he also has the ability to recognize which horses can and cannot handle what they're being asked to do, and whether it means the program is not right for the particular horse. Some horses can handle it and excel, others break down or aren't suitable for the sport.

    If he hasn't started jumping yet, don't worry too much about goal setting. Focus on training him correctly at the pace that is best for him as an individual. Once you have the basics down pat, then you can start aligning some goals.
    A quick tutorial on interval training: Conditioning your horse for eventing


    • #3
      I think it completely depends on the horse. I had one horse that wasn't phased by novice fences, so I had to move up to training faster to get her to respect the jumps. Plus, she would get irritated by having to slow down for novice time, and I didn't want to teach her that moving forward was a bad idea. On the other hand, I've ridden horses that have to stay at a certain level for years. Start your training, school cross-country as much as you can, and then see how he's going. My trainer has a rule that you have to do at least 4 clean events at a level before moving up. Once you're at training, the rules will help guide you.


      • #4
        It depends.

        Don't move up until both you and your horse are ready. That may be three events at BN, or it may be 10. Each level is different. He may see little difference between BN and N - but the jump to T is a bit bigger.

        It works best when your timeline isn't rigid and your not worried about hurrying back up the levels.


        • #5
          Completely in the abstract I don't think going from x-rails to T in 2 years is that fast, but I agree with everyone else that all you can really do is train him correctly, then listen to him as you start to compete. You'll know when he is ready for more.

          FWIW they vary a lot. I had one who did 2 events (N) before going T, another who had to do 8 Ns before he really was sorted out and ready for more. Nothing worse than riding an overfaced horse, so see how it goes and plan accordingly.


          • #6
            Quite horse (and rider dependent). I am an adult ammy rider. I rode sporadically and did not event from 1980 (when I was 17) until 1997. In 1995 and 1996, I rode very regularly, but did not event. When I got a very green (and pretty hot) OTTB in August 1997, he did his first BN event in May 2008 and moved up to Novice at his 2nd event, did several at Novice and then moved up to training in October of 2008 (unrecognized training). When I sold him (he was too big for me), I got another OTTB in April of 2009, who was very easy and mature (7 when I got him). He skipped BN and did his first novice in July of 2009, 3 more, his first training in September of 2009 and his first preliminary in July of 2010 (which was also my first preliminary). We were eliminated at the water (jump 19 of 21), but got a ribbon at our second attempt at preliminary in September. We then stayed at preliminary for 3 years, before making the move to intermediate.

            Some of it has to do with your comfort level with jumping. Anything under 3 feet has never seemed like a big deal to me (not saying it shouldn't or wouldn't to many, but for me BN and N are just to get used to the show environment and xc in general, work out which tack works, a warmup routine for that horse, etc). Move up when you are comfortable and feel your horse is too. I don't think without seeing at an event, anyone can provide general guidance on this. You never want to overface your horse, but you also don't want to make a bigger deal of jumping than it is and some horses really are better with a slightly bigger fence (not advocating running a nervous horse at a 3'6" table, but I've had some who were really busy doing other things until training level when the fences got interesting enough to be worth paying attention to)
            OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


            • #7
              All you can do is get started, set your goals, and work towards them. It doesn't make sense (IMO) to lay goals out in long strings, since SO much can happen to torch them, but a goal to do BN with a young horse after several months of proper schooling is perfectly reasonable.

              When THAT goal has been accomplished, then it's time to set the next one. You'll have a lot better idea of how realistic Training level is when you've got the horse schooling XC and showing an aptitude (or not) for jumping.

              What is an "Iberian warmblood", please?
              Click here before you buy.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks Everyone for the all the input!

                Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                All you can do is get started, set your goals, and work towards them. It doesn't make sense (IMO) to lay goals out in long strings, since SO much can happen to torch them, but a goal to do BN with a young horse after several months of proper schooling is perfectly reasonable.

                When THAT goal has been accomplished, then it's time to set the next one. You'll have a lot better idea of how realistic Training level is when you've got the horse schooling XC and showing an aptitude (or not) for jumping.

                What is an "Iberian warmblood", please?
                That is true... Maybe I am just getting excited. I feel like I have been at the low levels for so long, and I am excited to move forward!

                An Iberian Warmblood is essentially an Andalusian cross/ horse with Spanish origin (I think)
                I don't actually know a whole lot about it, the people I bought him from called him an Iberian. :s
                My horse had an Andalusian/TB dam and a Hanoverian sire

                This is the sire of his Dam, the Andalusian El Hombre
                Hombre on Cross country

                and this is his sire, Titan
                Titan Jumping
                Eventers of the West
                A Facebook group I created for Eventers in the West Region of the U.S.
                Remy - My OTTB Gelding! Love him to pieces!


                • #9
                  If I've learned anything about moving up, it's don't set expectations/ goals in such a way that you put things on a time line. Your horse will let you know when he's ready. Set goals like when can confidently do X, I'll move on to Y. Hoping to move up at X point in time only raises your expectations and may increase the likelihood that you'll over face him with your goals in the back of your subconscious mind. Not setting these expectations makes unforeseen circumstances, such as a lameness or life event that keeps you from the saddle, much less frustrating if and when they occur.

                  I'm sure this isn't the answer you were looking for, but IMHO there is no good answer to this age old question because everyone's different.

                  Good luck, and most importantly- ENJOY.
                  "As one of those weirdos that always enjoyed the grooming tasks that most others didn't, Kirsten decided it was time to make the most of it and create Shear Convenience Grooming"


                  • #10
                    As everyone has said, it depends.

                    I took a horse from unbroke to prelim in about 18 months (he was a little older, so there was no worry about his development). He never even did BN. Vernon could have EASILY gone training as a 4 year old, and prelim as a 5 year old. I went easy because he was so young and so good...a handful of novices then a long vacation, then a handful of trainings and another long vacation. It was two plus years from green broke to prelim on him. I've known horses who needed what seemed like ages at a certain level, then suddenly they get it, and go right on up.

                    Every horse is different, and every rider is different (ie, MY issues are holding my current horse back a bit). Don't make goals and definitely don't make plans. Just go with it and move up when it seems right. You may move up sooner. You may move up later. It will just depend.


                    • #11
                      that is generally not too fast.

                      I've skipped BN/N and started eventing at Training level before.

                      I generally don't do many if any BN events and just wait to start eventing until the horse is ready for Novice.

                      I've had several horses who I did one or two novice events before running successfully at training.

                      I've had horses that within 6 months of starting were happily going novice moving up to training level.

                      Then I've had horses who I started and worked with for over a year before eventing. Others who did a year at novice. Several who did a year or more at training. I often don't even event my 4 year olds at all...we do lots of other things, but they do not always need to event right away even if their ultimate job will be to be an event horse.

                      It totally depends on both the horse and rider. I can say...stop making plans so far out. Nice to have dreams...but to set goals on a time frame like that is not ideal. You then feel like you need to stick to a time table...and are failing if it doesn't work out.

                      Instead focus on improving and set more realistic short term goals. Your horse is just starting...make your goal to be jumping nice 2'9" courses. Make it a goal to get to some schooling shows or some xc schooling. Then see how he feels. If he feels green...keep working...if he feels great...set your next goal.
                      ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                      • #12
                        You really won't know until you get there. My current horse took 2 1/2 months to manage trotting a circle without coming unglued. Then within another month she was at BN. Moved up to N. Sure, whatever, I can do that. Then she got freaked out in SJ one day and we're back to schooling elementary.
                        Don't forget Doug's horse had a career as a steeplechase horse (ie, going fast, jumping BIG) before he started eventing, and he's pretty special with a really good pilot.

                        You can plan all you want but the horse says when it's OK to move on.


                        • #13
                          As others have said already, get started and see how things go. Goals should be made in "baby steps" especially if your horse hasn't even started jumping yet. I have been lucky with my last couple horses because I bought them green and they caught onto x-c jumping easily. I have known other horses that jumped x-c fences fine but had huge issues with water, ditches or banks. Sometimes horses don't like going away from their buddies and take a lot of work just to get them comfortable with jumping fences "in cold blood". All of those factors can alter how long a horse takes to get from "never jumped a stick" to "first BN event".

                          I would work with a good trainer who can help you get this horse started over fences correctly. After he is jumping little things confidently, then do some x-c schooling. Do some schooling dressage shows, little hunter shows, etc. These would all be good "mini" goals and great way to prepare for your first event.


                          • #14
                            Make sure he loves the job, b4 you make any plans. (:


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks everyone for the great advice!

                              I will for sure just take it slow and see how he does. I'll be schooling the baby stuff at Golden Spike (Utah) at the end of August so we will see how he gets used to that scenery!
                              Eventers of the West
                              A Facebook group I created for Eventers in the West Region of the U.S.
                              Remy - My OTTB Gelding! Love him to pieces!


                              • #16
                                experience counts!

                                Ask your instructor, Doug Payne was an experienced event rider; how about your experience?
                                breeder of Mercury!

                                remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans


                                • #17
                                  As long as you and your horse are both comfortable then you can move up.

                                  For instance: in dressage--if you feel (test after test after test) that the movements come up too quickly then you are working at a level you and your horse are not ready for. (Hilda Gurney told me that on Dressage Symposium hahaha)

                                  in XC--you should have 1 or 2 fences that you feel are a challenge.

                                  SJ is just SJ. The devil's tool. blech!
                                  Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by scubed View Post
                                    some horses really are better with a slightly bigger fence .... I've had some who were really busy doing other things until training level when the fences got interesting enough to be worth paying attention to
                                    'other' things! I'm glad you said that! Every time we say that about our horse folks roll their eyes. But we know the horse, he's a prankster and has a busy mind. He likes meat with his potatoes. You know what really spooks him - a starter fence! He goes wtf is that??

                                    It is so much fun to bring up baby and see what they like to do!! enjoy them while they're little dear (an old lady told me that about my children yrs ago).

                                    p.s. it just dawned on me that other things could mean 'other things' like in hunter classes, dressage shows .... I was thinking about the inventive other things!
                                    Last edited by pony grandma; Jul. 13, 2012, 06:35 PM.
                                    The cue card kid just held up an empty cue card. For a minute there I thought I had lost my sense of humor. --- Red Skelton


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by deltawave View Post

                                      What is an "Iberian warmblood", please?
                                      Try this one out

                                      or this

                                      When I bought Sterling he was listed as "warmblood", but knowing folks tell me he's "iberian".

                                      This is a long story, but one night I had been in the cups a little bit and had wandered out to check on my small herd. Sterling walked up, did the usual check for treats then seemed content to share time with me. Finally I looked at him and asked, "where did you come from". Not really expecting an answer I was quite surprised when I heard him say, "about time you asked. So you know, I don't tell everyone this, but I am a Lipizzaner from the Piber farm in Austria. Let me tell you my story."

                                      I don't know what caught me off gaurd more, a conversational horse, or that he was from the famed School of Spanish Riding. "Well" I finally uttered, "I am all ears". "Actually Dad, Mercedes is all ears, yours pale in comparison, but we don't hold that against you". Oh no, a wise guy and a free spirit, this wont ever be normal. "Okay mister, fess up, tell me how you went from pampered prince of Stiermark to paupered pony of South Carolina?"

                                      And so he did. The rest can only be told in person

                                      My Sweet Iberian?


                                      • #20
                                        experience counts!

                                        I believe jumping biomechanics are most important; that is where LOTS of gymnastics and hunter courses are essential to jumping safely; once you and the horse are jumping through and around safely and easily; when a gymnastic with last fence at at least 3'6" is easy for both of you with you
                                        holding the mane, i.e. mo reins AND no stirrups and a childrens' / adult jumper courses at 3' 9""is also easy; ; around here , with lots of opportunities, h/j shows, courses to school and foxhunting; I would move up fairly quickly, once at baby novice, which, I would expect to be too simple;

                                        I would expect to move up to training then prelim with just one or two runs at Training I would try prelim; ; however, when I lived in Indiana, I found no opportunity to school, or even condition; the only
                                        course in our area was not IN horse center was nice but too far to use as often as necessary, so, that was the year I switched full time to jumprs though now, back in Va. I realize our "big horse "would have been well suited to eventing eventing, she had grown up, as a two year old in the huntfield; was naturally balanced ( olsteinr/ TB well suited to dressage and eventing which her owners/ breeders had thought; unfortunately, the year
                                        she came to me I moved from VA to IN; and the opportunities to move her into eventing were few and VERY far between;

                                        find an experienced trainer/ instructor who , has experience bringing horses AND riders along and depend on their judgment; the courses should start looking easy to both of you, horse and rider so, Laz, start getting the mileage BEFORE you need it!
                                        breeder of Mercury!

                                        remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans