On a whim, I took my friend's horse into a First Level 1 test Saturday.
This is her first show in probably 5 years (before that low level hunter/jumpers).
We scored a 58% with 2 error points because I went off course (I tried to do the 15m circle at A instead of E, and instead of leg yielding back to the line to do the circle at E, I stopped and asked if I could start over again at A — talked to the judge about my decision later and she said either way I would have lost about 2 points).
The comment we got at the end of the test was "Horse has potential." But we also got some pretty tough comments, which I expected (and wanted) at this level.
It sounds like you guys just had a rough test with the errors. All things considered 58% is not a bad score, especially for your first time out at the level. If I were you I would take the judges comments to heart, continue to school, and next time you have the opportunity give the test another go. It sounds like the scores you received were more a reflection of the errors and nerves than any serious training issues.
This appears to be a schooling show, right? Schooling shows are EXACTLY where you do just that--find out where you belong, and then sometimes stretch the limits a bit to see how far you need to still go.
I say show T-3/1-1 next time, or stick with 1-1, whatever. If your scores are consistently low, then I would take a step back (regardless if the issue is the horse or you--either way it means mileage/training) and see if that helps.
From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.
You might need to scale back in your training but not because you aren't able to do First level but to re-establish the good connection, a round and supple back, and straighness that you need for first level.
This will 'cure' the tilting, crabby, jiggling, wiggling, resistances...
If you are nervous, please don't sit the trot. Especially in the lengthening part. It will only increase the tension in your horse's back and that is what creates quick and short strides. Level one horses don't usually have really strong back so the less you sit, the less you interfere.
You need to know your test. No matter how stressed you are. Have someone read the test for you. You are 2 points behind just for that.
Ride your circles correctly. Demonstrate the difference between the corner and the circle you just started/finished. Show more difference between the working and lenghtening trot/canter. Those are easy points you can get.
(Between you and me, I think they kinda forgot to sustract those two points... with 169.5 it gives 58.44% and with 167.5 it is 57.75%)
Overall, I think you surely did great for a first appearance in the dressage ring!!!
First of all, good work on getting a 58% first time out.
I've had to think about the same thing as I'm riding a horse that consistently gets 65-68 in training level - so I thought about moving up to First for the last 3 or 4 schooling shows of the year. We went to a combined training event that had a "pick a test" dressage portion and I rode 1st for the heck of it to see how we would do. Got in the high 50s so I started wondering about what to ride for the rest of the year. I decided to stick with Training Level because we need to practice showing and getting more consistent and not worry so much about moving up. I kept reminding myself that there is no rush - my horse can only get better at training level with more ring miles.
Looking at your score sheet, you were dinged on some things that I think are the basics. Halts at X, stretchy circle, transitions, for example. You might want to drop back to training level to get those nailed down before you introduce even more into the ring experience. I find that 1st level just whizzes by - demands a lot more from you and the horse. Best to have the easy stuff automatic before you add in lengthenings, quicker transitions etc.
I've found that pushing the horse (and myself) before we're ready risks having to go back at a later date and re-do what should have been set before we moved on.
I think that you should find a good trainer to help you. T and 1st level are all about the basics - and you cant progress until you have those down pat - unfortunately very few trainers teach or really understand them.
so..... personally i would seek out help and go from there!
Based upon the comments and the scores on your sheet...you had some basics that were not right even before you went off course and had the first error. I'd drop down to training level and truly get the basics right. It looks in particular like your lenthenings are just not there yet. Get the straightness & focus and accuracy correct at training level at competitions while working on the lenthenings at home, then come back out at 1st when it has all gelled a bit more. JMHO. Good luck!
Thanks for the great comments all! I'm feeling a bit more confident, but still haven't made up my mind. Everyone gave great input, though it varied (naturally!) so I'm taking it all in mind
Yes this was a schooling show, so really more for learning and improving. The judge is very different from my instructor, so I loved getting the extra insight.
We're normally very square at halt while schooling (proof! https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Z...s720/FDD15.jpg), and although we have trouble schooling stretchy trot at home (the only "flat" area has an incline which makes tempo very hard to obtain), we school stretchy trot very well off-property in flat arenas and before we got into the arena Saturday.
I even remember saying to a friend I was sure I was gonna get an 8 on her stretchy trot that day! *eats own words*
I had the test very well memorized and felt completely confident going in — though I don't have letters at home (not allowed to set up) I watched umpteen youtube videos along with the test in hand. I'm normally not one to forget things so didn't even think about a reader since I knew the test inside and out ... I just had a brain burp, I guess lol (getting old? oh know!)
I really wish our at-home schooling sessions and the morning's warm up translated — it must have been nerves right from the start and even before I went off course. As I said in the OP, I really felt like we were going in to ride a test in the 60s. Our stretchy trot looked great, our free walk was so loose and stretched down/consistent, and our extensions were even, through the back and lovely (with this mare, I only do about 50% of her extensions because she throws some legs and *can* get a little exuberant and then lose balance, softness, tempo if I just let her go 100%).
I did post the entire test. While I will sit about 25% of our schooling sessions at home and felt like I could have sat and then posted extensions (the thought crossed my mind), I wanted to ride like we usually do at home or out schooling.
I still haven't made up my mind. I might try another FL1 early 2013 and see how we feel and stay or move down from there. If I show again in the next two months (unlikely), I might just go to training level.
Regardless, it's clear our schooling and warm-up didn't translate, so we need more consistency and learning!
I'm really proud the journey this little mare has made from re-breaking her less than 6 months ago (I took her back to a rope halter and everything and rebooted; long, long story but she was a complete wreck anytime someone went to ride her) to doing so well on a FL test!
Here we are schooling in June (same location as the show):
First off, I don't put a lot of stock in the scoring from "L" judges. No offense to any of them out there...a schooling show is a place for practice for both the judge and the participant. That said, I would look at the comments, tighten up the areas you can, and continue on at First Level. Don't let one class get you down. If a pattern of weaknesses emerges in your tests then you might need to reevaluate...but until then keep going.
Tilting head means you are arguing in the corners rather than arcing and riding into them and treating them like a part of a circle- those comments just look like drop back to Training and get the basics right. No point in doing First One, which (IMO) requires a lot more balance and knowledge of circles and rate/rhythm...
Master T3 and really own it. Then revisit First when it feels familiar. There are some very basic mistakes noted on that score sheet.
Looking at the test sheet, it looks like you were a solid 55 before the first error. To me, even at a schooling show, that suggests that you haven't mastered the basics enough for that level (and especially in the atmosphere at a show). That said, you seem accomplished enough to safely manage a novice or training level cross country course (based on that picture). First level seems very within your reach.
The earliest test comments suggest to me first and foremost that you aren't riding forward enough in the test and you aren't using half-halts (which include the release) to balance and relax your horse. Not riding forward contributes to the weaving centerline, haunches out in the halt, head tilting and poor lenthening and stretchy circle scores. If your horse goes cross country, I'm certain the forward is in there, and if he goes well in novice/training stadium, he has an ability to half-halt and collect a bit. I'm wondering if you are stifling that forwardness in the dressage test. The comments suggest that you might be a bit stiff - and your horse might be, too, in the test. This really isn't hard to address.
I'd suggest working with a good dressage trainer - one who primarily rides dressage and has trained horses up the levels. You look like you are only one or two "aha" moments from fixing several of your issues. I'd also suggest going to the schooling shows just for the sheer experience of being in the ring. I think that's the only way to learn how to ride strategically at a show. If I were you, I'd go back to the last tests at Training level and work on nailing them. If you're going to wait 5-6 months before showing again like you suggested, I'd say do your homework and then try First level again at that time.
Our problem is not training for the level, but rather misbehavior/aerials at shows. My horse gets tense in a show environment and all goes to pot. (This is a different type of training... plus now-treated ulcers.) No way I will take him back down to training even with awful scores at first because first level is easy for him and gives him too many chances to misbehave already - training would be even more of an issue! I'd consider moving up to second for quicker movements even with bad 1st level scores if it weren't for the fact I think posting at least slightly helps relieve tension issues.
So you need to ask yourself what the problem was, and what it means. Problems riding corners of which you were unaware mean maybe you should go back to training. Problems which stemmed from tension and a lack of desire to step under, which you knew were happening and normally don't, mean maybe try different techniques in warmup.
Originally Posted by Silverbridge
If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.
Personally, if I weren't planning to show soon, I wouldn't worry about what to call it. I'd just take the test back to my instructor and with her help, I'd work on fixing the fundamental issues using whatever mix of training & first-level exercises helped improve my basics.
If I were planning to show again soon and I had some indication that show nerves/inexperience impacted my score (from the warmup being better that the test), I'd drop back to training level to build up my confidence and get more experience showing. I think it really depends on the horse and person in question, but this is what I'd do knowing me.
J-Lu, I only work with one instructor and she's solely dressage She's fantastic.
(well I've clinic'd with eventer Sinead Halpin, but that was jumping/XC focused)
Looking back, I really think I forgot to "give" throughout the entire test and even the BN A test. I've mulled it over a few times in my head, riding it again and again, and I think that has to be it. That's why our stretches fell apart, that's why our extensions were bad, and that certainly explains our bad halts, bad circles etc.
Funny since that's 99% of what we work on in every lesson, and what I work on in every schooling session. I know I did it in warmup ... but I guess nerves must have gotten the better of me.
Great comments/insight all! Taking them all to heart to improve our ride next time
Ah I wouldn't worry too much about it. I don't think many people go from one level scoring well and move up to the next without dropping a bit. Heck if you were getting high 60's all the time in training level and went to 1st and were getting high 60's again, you probably should have moved up to 2nd.
There's lots of factors that affect your score, don't be too hard on yourself as you said you just hopped on a friend's horse and went to the show. Doesn't sound like you had been riding that horse a lot beforehand so probably weren't entirely familiar with him, the test was new to you and you had some nerves. No big deal! That's the fun part about dressage, looking at the constructive comments that the judge gives you and working on those things and seing your score improve next time. Practice makes perfect and I think while most horse/rider pair should be able to "wing it" at training level, First level requires some work. Keep on with it!
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The big reason your score was so low was due to your center lines. They apparently suck. It wouldn't have mattered the level you were riding. Those center line scores killed your overall score. If both center lines had been 7's, and you hadn't had the off course, you would've had your 60+%.
I strongly disagree with the idea that this rider/horse combo should go back to training level. You had some very good movements in that test. Your second trot lengthen earned a 7 even with the the loss of rhythm in the second half. Your circles were good quality except for the head tilting, and that's a rider error (probably too constricting on outside rein).
From the way the test reads, it looks like you came into the test very tense but gradually worked through it to give a pretty decent performance. From the comments on the test, you belong in First level. There's no need to go back to training level... unless you just like the blue ribbons for your own confidence. But you and the horse (based on what the judge wrote and your scores) are more than adequate for First Level.
Your horse showed that it can have the balance required to do the movements (your second half of the test shows this). Your horse is accepting contact, but has issues with straightness. You have the foundation there, you just need to work on the weak areas a bit more. There was really only once that the judge remarked on rhythm, and that was the second trot lengthen (usually due to loss of balance). The big issues appears to be with your contact, and from what the judge wrote, it appears that you like to get a bit too strong with the reins instead of riding more off your seat (I didn't see the test, so take that with a grain of salt).
My first First Level Test 1 test was in June. I barely scrapped by with a 60%. The comments read a lot like your test.
My second time showing First 1 was a month later. I earned a 65.5%, which was the highest percentage for all of three First Level tests (and all divisions) at that show.
I'm going to try Second Level Test 1 next weekend. My goal is to get above a 55% for our first time. I just want to get one Second level test under our belts before the incredibly long winter. That'll give us plenty of time before next summer's show season starts to work on our issues.