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TrooperDynamicImus

Your Opinion on Skipping Levels?

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My trainer recently told me what she had in store for Hia and me to get ready for next show season. Right now, I am at a confident 1st/2nd level, but she believes that we could be able to show 3rd/4th level next summer. So, just out of curiosity....

What do you think about skipping levels? Do you think a rider/horse combo should achieve a certain score before moving up? Should you always continue to the next level, no matter what?

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts! [big Grin]

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I have no problem with horses and riders skipping levels in the show ring. So long as you are building the foundation through the levels at home, you'll be fine. If you were talking about skipping levels in training, then I would worry. But if the homework has been done at home, go ahead and come out where you feel comfortable and can show your horse off. [smile]

Tracy

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A whole lot of it depends on you and your experience level as well as your confidence. Some of depends also on how well you work with your instructor as well, and how long you have been working with your instructor. Is your horse a schoolmaster who knows the movements or will you and the instructor be teaching the movements?

As you move up the levels, to the higher levels, valueable experience can be gained in the ring because the tests do get harder. Gaining experience in the tests, if you haven't ridden at certain levels before and experienced certain movements can be invaluable, especially as you move up.

I tend to be a bit skeptical just from some past experience of trainers who promise the moon ie promising AAs the ability to jump levels, especially several in short periods of time. Things take time and unrealistic expectations can put pressure on both horse and ride, add undue stress, make lessons and shows unpleasant. It should be fun for both horse and rider. The focus should be about the quality of both of the ride in lessons/training/schooling/shows. You have to look at what you are getting. What is the point of skipping the levels if you are getting scores in the 50s? I've seen that a whole lot unfortunately with people who have both skipped levels with schoolmasters and done it with younger horses/experienced trainers as AA.

I don't think it is a matter of just being able to do the movements but be able to do them well. Getting a whole bunch of 5s is merely sufficient, which is basically a substitute term for marginal. For us, we strive to see 7s and 8s. I think you have to decide what your parameters are for showing. Some people want to move up at all costs--showing at the higher levels is more important than the score.

For me, I prefer to get my horse solid at the level, keep him very, very confident, make the work at home a bit more challenging, the work at shows simple. Shows tend to be stressful even if a horse enjoys shows. That way, my scores can (hopefully) be good, remain in the mid to upper 60s to 70s. I always want to be schooling a level to two above where I am showing, not schooling where I am showing. I have a baby though, so it may play into it. I'm just not going to push my horse (or any horse) again though and am luckily with like minded trainers. We are, though, on track with our training.

[ 09-19-2007, 11:32 PM: Message edited by: PMJ ]

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I am not a fan of skipping levels - especially 2nd Level. You are showing 1st Level right now, and getting solid scores, but not phenomenal scores. The leap from 1st to 2nd is huge. The leap from 2nd to 3rd is decent. The leap from 1st to 3rd is a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon. The main reason I see people skipping over 2nd to get to 3rd is so that they can slap a double bridle on the horse and force the horse into a fake collection. Not saying this is what is going on in your case, BUT there is A LOT to be learned in 2nd Level, and I think it is a very valuable and difficult level that should be dealt with at least superficially to prove that the horse and rider can handle the skills required before moving on to 3rd. Saying that you are "schooling 2nd" at home and ACTUALLY being able to go to a show and successfully ride a 2nd Level test and get a decent score are two very, very different things. Can you truly handle ALL of the elments of 2nd Level?? Could you ride them under pressure in a relaxed, supple manner, in a very demanding test pattern?? Most 1st/2nd level riders can prepare and achieve a nice c/w/c transition given enough time and space, but within the demands of a test situation - that's a completely new challenge, and one that should NOT be overlooked in my opinion.

Besides, here's one more question for you to ponder - don't you want your Bronze Medal at some point?? If so, you need two qualifying 2nd Level scores. If you skip 2nd Level, no Bronze Medal. [Wink]

~Shelly~

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That is a major skip 1/2 to 3/4. I would say maybe start out 2/3 for first half and 3/4 for the second depending on how you do [Wink]

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as usual, PMJ and Smithereens nailed it. I would listen to them! Smithereens atleast (i know!) has been working her butt of at 2nd and 3rd level stuff FOREVER!!!! and it takes time. I've seen people skip over stuff and it really does hurt them in the long run. Even skipping one test in a level can really set you back, and then you have to go back and start the basics all over again.

At the AEC's this weekend, i was watching the advanced dressage and.... it was really really pretty. But.... there was a guy we were sitting next to, a coach...who was really good. and he was talking about how when you start pushing horses too fast, you lose the basics and lose points for silly stuff just cause you've forgotten the basics.

so..... i guess we need more info, but ultimately that is a decision for you. I would say atleast make sure you aren't skipping levels in your training at home.

good luck.

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quote:

Originally posted by FleckenAwesome:

Smithereens atleast (i know!) has been working her butt of at 2nd and 3rd level stuff FOREVER!!!! and it takes time.

You have NO idea!!! Moving up through the levels is more than simply learning some new fancy movements. It is really a 4 part process:

1) rider mastery of the aids for new movements

2) rider development of core/body fitness and strength to be able to able to maintain overall position throughout the new movements to be of assistance not hinderance to horse

3) horse mastery of new movements

4) horse developent of muscle tone and strength to be able to carry him/herself through the new movements

These things just can NOT be skipped. Perhaps the horse is a schoolmaster and knows the movements, but how long has it been since he/she has done them?? Does he/she still have the physical strength to do the work of the level?? It takes time to build up that kind of muscle tone and strength. Same for the rider. Regardless of whether or not the horse is a schoolmaster, if the rider's position or mastery of the aids is not sufficient enough for the level, the rider will not be able to perform the level and achieve the movements required of the level. These are all things that come with time and lots and lots of hard work. Unfortunately, they can not be rushed.

We had a young girl in our barn that was a 1st/2nd level rider. Her trainer helped her find a 3rd level horse to buy. Even though the horse was trained for a level above her, the trainer still made her spend 1/2 a year showing 2nd to gain the necessary skills she needed at 2nd level before moving her on to 3rd. Yes, she moved on much more rapidly because the horse had experience far greater than her, but the trainer still recognized the importance of having the girl spend time at 2nd level and gain valuable showing experience there before moving on to 3rd. They are a very successful 4th level partnership now.

~Shelly~

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Yeah- big ditto to Smithereens

What scores are you getting now?

I was getting upper seventies consistantly at first 4 at rated shows for over a year, before I considered myself and my horse ready for 2nd level. I was schooling 2nd for 3 years (including injury downtime, so it's a bit excessive) before I showed it. It wasn't until I started schooling 3rd that I felt ready to attempt 2nd level. It worked out- my debut was a 68% on what I considered a mediocre test. Like PMJ said, it depends on what scores you want. I work really really hard, and probably slower than most people around me, who breeze up through the levels so they can say they've done it. But the differnce is the scores- they are happy with a 52%, because they completed it at least. I am happy with a 68% because I did it well.

It's a world of difference in collection and understanding and the speed of which this things come at you during the tests. It's not only the movements themselves that come fast- but you have to do the proper preparation before and after each movement to get a good score. You literally need to ride and control every step.

2nd level is a beast- it seperates the men from the boys.

Don't take it lightly.

Also, I've kept this under wraps for quite awhile, but since it was recently mentioned on the COTH board- In 2009, you'll have to get a minimum number of scores at each level before you are allowed to move up.

edit for typos!

[ 09-20-2007, 03:32 PM: Message edited by: Kiss The Sky ]

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I know someone who skipped a level and has had such a hard time with it even though she has a schoolmaster. That lost level has reflected in the scores. Having that good, solid grounding makes such a difference. That is not to say that you cannot show within two levels a year.

You cannot teach really that "time in the ring" with the undue influnce of nerves. Even if you don't get "nervous" you as a rider have the influence of positive tension under which you ride. If you have shown for a long time, you learn to chanel it, and if you get nervous, you have to learn to cope. Movements do come up fast so you have to learn to adjust, and adjust under a show environment--if you plan to show.

A friend of mine did that because she knew her young horse would be ready for that this year--some 1st at the beginning of the year and then bumped up for 2nd in the middle of April.

With the qualifying system, it was talked about on COTH and discussed. I'd not heard that anything has been finalized and made public about this program by USEF or USDF as far as implementation for either horse or rider or a year actually nation-wide, although it was briefly mentioned at the "L" in Raleigh. Nobody talked about the program like it was going to be started anytime soon. I do think we will see one in the future possibly. They (the USEF) will have to take into account the geography, money concerns, how to continue to grow the base of members, etc. before starting such a program.

KTSDo you have an inside track on other info--do tell!!!! Um inquiring minds, um (nosy) minds want to know--it sounded like you know something more than is out there.

[ 09-20-2007, 08:29 PM: Message edited by: PMJ ]

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I dont skip levels. Period. I think it's important to "master" a level before moving up. Because with each level, you compete, and at each level, the critera for what the judge will be scoring you on gets harder and harder. I think you miss out on alot of important points by skipping levels.

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My only inside angle was that it was going to happen- this was two years back. My trainer went to a very BNT clinic, and he mentioned that they would start requiring the scores at the levels because of people buying their rides and skipping the levels. I think they thought that it would leave a gaping whole in the competition and knowlwedge of training for 2nd and 3rd levels.

I competed at Region 3 Champs 3 years ago- there was in excess of about 20 young riders at first level.

There was EXCATLY 2! in the 2nd level champs class.

The winner had a 61% and the Reserve had mid fifties.

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Big ditto to Shelly (smithereens) and PMJ.

I showed First Level (qualified and went to the USDF Reg. Championships), and dabbled a bit in Second Level (rated shows) last year, '06.

This year, I am doing all Second, no Third. My highest score has been a 67%, at Second Level Test 4 at a rated show. I am qualified for the Northwest Dressage Championships as well as the USDF Regional Championships. I have worked VERY, very hard to earn the scores I have. It's taken me a good year and a half to be able to successfully show at Second Level. The jump between First and Second is HUGE, it's a matter of strength and muscle; for both horse and rider, correct basics and training, and the ability to put everything together into a test. There is a big difference between schooling the movements, and being able to finesse and fine tune it so you are ready to show. Second Level isn't something you can learn overnight, it takes time, hard work, and patience.

Though showing two different levels in one year can work out, I personally do not plan on actually bypassing any of the levels.

Regional Championships in my region, region 6, are later this September. I looked at my classes online, there are only THREE other JR/YR's qualified in the actual Regional class, excluding myself. So a total of four competitors. In order to qualify as a JR/YR at Second Level, you needed two scores of 61% or better from two different judges, at rated shows of course. I believe there are five other people in my Northwest Dressage Championship class, for that one you needed three scores from any test at 56% or above (I believe three different judges too). There are 20 horse/rider combo's at First Level, for JR/YR's. Now THAT is a huge difference....

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quote:

Originally posted by PMJ:

With the qualifying system, it was talked about on COTH and discussed. I'd not heard that anything has been finalized and made public about this program by USEF or USDF as far as implementation for either horse or rider or a year actually nation-wide, although it was briefly mentioned at the "L" in Raleigh. Nobody talked about the program like it was going to be started anytime soon. I do think we will see one in the future possibly. They (the USEF) will have to take into account the geography, money concerns, how to continue to grow the base of members, etc. before starting such a program.

quote:

Originally posted by Kiss The Sky:

My only inside angle was that it was going to happen- this was two years back. My trainer went to a very BNT clinic, and he mentioned that they would start requiring the scores at the levels because of people buying their rides and skipping the levels. I think they thought that it would leave a gaping whole in the competition and knowlwedge of training for 2nd and 3rd levels.

Be very careful what you go around quoting as “gospel” KTS!!! PMJ is correct. There has indeed been A LOT of chatter all across the internet and horse community about possibly implementing some sort of a qualifying system in this country like they have in Europe; however, as of yet, nothing has been definitively announced. There are many issues to be decided such as how the program would be run, monitored, what levels it would begin at (many are pushing for it to begin at 3rd perhaps), cost, etc. This is much like the debate over whether the double bridle should be allowed at 3rd level – so many differing opinions that no decision can be made!!!! An actual decision may be a very long time in coming, and when it does come, it may look nothing like what you expect. As with the double bridle in 3rd, rather than a simple leave in or take out, they opted to deal with that issue by raising the rider coefficient to 3x. Not what we all expected, but an interesting solution nonetheless.

quote:

Originally posted by luvhorses223:

Regional Championships in my region, region 6, are later this September. I looked at my classes online, there are only THREE other JR/YR's qualified in the actual Regional class, excluding myself. So a total of four competitors. In order to qualify as a JR/YR at Second Level, you needed two scores of 61% or better from two different judges, at rated shows of course. I believe there are five other people in my Northwest Dressage Championship class, for that one you needed three scores from any test at 56% or above (I believe three different judges too). There are
20
horse/rider combo's at First Level, for JR/YR's. Now THAT is a huge difference....

Yes, McKenzie, that is indeed a HUGE difference and it goes to show exactly how big the gap between 1st and 2nd really is. So many people attempt to make that leap up, and just fail miserably. Therefore, attempting to actually SKIP 2nd and go to 3rd/4th, well I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the wisdom in that decision. I’m not trying to be harsh MDC, but the scores that you got in your June show this year at 1st level certainly do not warrant skipping 2nd and going directly to 3rd/4th either.

~Shelly~

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Thanks for the input guys. I do agree with all of you. I really don't want to do a level that we are not ready for and I think that will be my decision not matter how much the trainer disagrees. I will definately only move up if both Hia and me are physically and mentally able to do it. My plan was actually to do 2nd level in the summer. Well, I will keep you all posted on our progress! Thanks for all the help. Keep On posting!

smithereens_86: Yep, my June scores did leave something to be desired, but we also competed in a July show. We scored much higher, high 60s low 70s. Not that this really means much, just thought I'd add. [Wink]

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There was a whole lot of the same type thing going on when the test changed and it was "fact" that the double was on the way out--and we see what happened with that. Lots of people who had the inside track were woefully wrong. Instead, the USEF test writing committee decided to do the X3 rider score. There are just a whole lot of people who claim to be in the "know" when they aren't for whatever reason. I think until you see it in writing you just cannot believe it.

Are you going to the Regionals in Ocala, KTS? i can't believe we are doing that drive. We were supposed to stay for a week and do lessons with Gunnar, but he won't be down yet. I'll only be showing Saturday, but will still be down Sunday.

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