Rider Tests – I did them! Woo Hoo!

Ah Ha! I have completed my mission and successfully completed both First and Second level Rider Tests. By successful I mean I stayed on the horse, didn’t get eliminated, and we performed all the movements (wasn’t a zero score on any part).

First Level Rider Test

The First Level Rider Test started a bit shaky. I made Ava mad right before we went in the ring. You know those warmups where you just want to do something you’ve done a million times just fine, some small little confidence booster right before you go in, and right then is when you screw it all up. Either you’re tense, or the horse is tense, or whatever, but that one “go to” move you knew you could nail is now the biggest IF statement of the entire test. That was my Turn On The Forehand move. Except, instead of just letting the resistance go and moving on during the warmup, I had to fuss with it. Which irritates Ava to no end. So when we got to the arena for our ride and had to wait for the bell to ring… Ava decided that was just unacceptable and started tossing her head and doing little mini-rears. She so non-scary when she does a little tantrum. I know she’s trying to be intimidating, but she’s so fluffy and squishy that it’s hard to feel like there’s any real danger. That and she’s lazy, so you know at most this will go on for 5 seconds and then she’ll realize it’s way more work then she bargained for.

Anyway, Ava’s throwing a little tantrum, the bell rings, we trot on in. Watch the video.. I was laughing about her head during the first halt.

I put the movements on the video so those of you unfamiliar with the test can follow along. Hopefully it’s not too annoying.

Read (or skip) the purpose statement on the test to better understand what is being judged during this test.

Purpose of Test: To confirm that the rider, in addition to the requirements of training level, shows correct alignment, posture and mechanics in sitting trot, including maintaining a steady, elastic rein contact. In turns on forehand and leg yields the rider remains centered and the responds willingly to the aids. The transitions are ridden in better balance and with more throughness than at training level. In response to the correct application of the rider’s aids, the horse moves actively forward showing a consistent tempo and correct rhythm in each gait, shows bending, lengthens, and shortens the stride in trot and responds willingly to both longitudinal and lateral aids.


Final score: 71.000%
The final comments were:  Great test riding of this demanding test. Good basics too. Hurray!

I have never received a score so high in my entire life, so I was thrilled with the score.  This score was from a USEF r judge.

Second Level Rider Test

I was dreading the Second Level Rider Test. We just started showing Second Level this year.  In fact, our simple changes are non-existent. I have to say, I was sweating bullets about them for the last few weeks. We can occasionally get a really good canter/walk transition if the sun and moon align perfectly, but normally it’s a hard fall through a trot. Watch the Second Level test. You can tell a few of the transitions were just crap, but there were a couple that were just, almost, sort of, getting there.

And I was proud of Ava’s medium across the diagonal into counter canter. If you realized what an immense struggle it has been for the two of us to get a relatively balanced counter canter, then this video would absolutely amaze you. Last year at this time we couldn’t even do the shallow canter loop from wall to X without falling over. Let alone go from full on lengthen canter to counter canter. I was so proud of my little girl! Please ignore the down transition after the counter canter though. Those sucked.

Here’s the video.

The Purpose: To confirm that the rider, having achieved the requirements of First Level, is able to ride the horse reliably on the bit with an uphill tendency. The rider lengthens and shortens the horse’s stride in trot and canter while maintaining correct alignment, posture and mechanics. In lateral movements the rider stays centered and demonstrates an appropriate angle and bending of the horse. As a result of the correct application of the rider’s aids, the horse shows a greater degree of straightness, bending, suppleness, thoroughness, balance and self-carriage than at first level.

Final Score: 63.000%

The final comments were: Have a stable position [rider]. Level “Challenging” for horse so trans often tight and abrupt. Traver now is 4 track.

You know.. they don’t introduce shoulder-in to traver until I1 in the regular tests, so when I say this test was hard… I mean, HARD. But om my goodness it was a BLAST to ride! I’m so tired right now all I can think to write is “it was like bam, bam, bam”. hahaha

Anyway… watch the video’s, and then everyone needs to go try these Rider Tests. They are challenging (they’re the hardest test of every level), but I really enjoy how these tests are put together. I had so much fun riding them today.

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Rider Tests – I’m doing them

I’m competing this Saturday at a schooling show, and I signed up for the First and Second Level Rider Tests. I really like how the tests flow. I like the difficulty levels. I like that its not about my horse’s gaits, but about how well I ride and how responsive my mare is. I like those aspects… but dang those tests are hard! As a rider, you have to stay balanced and proactive at all times. There are only a few spots where you have time to set the horse up a little. On the other hand, my mare didn’t have time to get bored, and she was forced to pay extra attention.

In my quest to learn more about the tests, I researched videos of Rider Tests. I can only find two (2) videos anywhere (for 1st and 2nd). Either no one rides those tests, or no one is willing to post their videos after they ride them.

Both tests have changed somewhat since these two videos were taken.

Here are the videos I found:

First Level Rider Test

Second Level Rider Test

Links to the Rider Tests:

Training Level: https://www.usef.org/documents/disciplines/dressage/tests/2013TrainingLevelRiderTest.pdf

First Level: https://www.usef.org/documents/disciplines/dressage/tests/2013FirstLevelRiderTest.pdf

Second Level: https://www.usef.org/documents/disciplines/dressage/tests/2013SecondLevelRiderTest.pdf

I am determined to post any video I may get of my Rider Tests, regardless of how piss poor they may be. This void of Rider Test videos needs to be rectified!!

If you know of any First or Second level Rider Test videos, post the link in the comments section.

The New Rider Tests – Clinic

I went to a clinic Saturday to learn more about the “Rider Tests” that are available this coming year.
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The most important thing I took away is that individual movements are not scored. It’s all collective marks. Instead of the normal 3 collective marks on the back, there will be five, and that’s all the judge gets… Those 5 boxes on the back of the test to score the entire test. It might make for some interesting scoring in the next year.

The emphasis on these tests is the rider and how well the rider influences the horse. So, for instance, if your horse trips and loses his balance, but you ride with such skill that it allows the horse to quickly regain his balance, then you get points, instead of points off for loss of balance.

The transitions are placed where the judge will have a clear view of what the rider is doing. So no more hiding while I’m furiously kicking my pony into a canter.

I also got to watch a video of all three tests being ridden. Those tests look Fun!! I can’t wait to try them.

Oh, also…The rules for the new Rider Tests are in flux, so check the USEF rules frequently.

And remember to check out the new “changing your diagonal” rules while on the USEF site.