I Could NEVER Do First Level Test Three!

So with all the snow that we have been having in my area I have totally turned into a hermit. The upside with spending extra time at home is that I finally got a chance to look at the new USDF tests! I have been reading lots of complaints about how much harder the tests are this year in comparison to last year and I have to say that at first glance I totally agree. Unlike most people though I think that is a good thing.

So I pick up First Level Test Three for a look over. I start to panic because right off the bat there are letters that I am not used to seeing. Where the heck is R? And S? So at that point I couldn’t even read through the test because I was so panic-stricken and self defeating right off the bat. What was I thinking? I have no idea what I am doing and should not even be looking at this test. I am a horrible rider and sucks at dressage and this is one big giant fail.

So I walked away for a bit before I suddenly remember that I made myself learn all the letters a few winters ago, duh. Call Mr. Rogers Before People Forget All Kinds View Every Single Horse. So I get out a piece of paper and make a fake arena with CMRBPFAKVESH around the edges, take a deep breath and look at the test again.

As I read through the test the panic lessons. The Schoolmaster and I can do extensions at the trot and canter. We can handle 15 meter circles, maybe this wont be so bad at all. Then I get to the leg yield with a 10 meter circle. Forget. I have decided that can’t do that. There is no way I can do that. I put down 1-3 and felt like a failure. I texted my trainer saying that I am just not good enough to do 1-3 and I told her why. She texted back with a little reminder that not only can I do it, but I have done that and done it well. My first lesson back on the Schoolmaster after a month off was filled with things that were even harder than a leg yeild to a circle.

I had forgotten all about the lateral movement to 10 meter to lateral movement exercises we did. So I took a deep breath and went back to the test and this time I make it all way through the test, but there is one movement that I know is really going to be an issue. The Schoolmaster has a hard time changing bend in the canter as well as counter cantering. I get the impression that he doesn’t think he can do it. I am not sure if there was always an issue with it (could be…his owner did give him up to my trainer after all) or if he really is just not balanced in the canter (he doesn’t feel that way, but you never know). There is a bending line at the canter in 1-3. That is going to be an issue.

So me being me I throw my hands up in the air and say that I can’t handle this test and I don’t want to show anymore. I tell my trainer the issue and she reminded me that I don’t have to go out 1-3. DUH! Why didn’t I think of that!?!? She also said that it is very early in the year and since show season runs through October in my area there is a very good chance that the Schoolmaster and I can fix the issue before the end of the year. Why do I constantly mentally block myself in? She is so right. I don’t even have to show first level if I don’t want to. So I set about looking at the other tests to see where I thought the Schoolmaster and I could be successful in the show ring. Looking at the other tests is a story for another day. I just think it is so funny that a stupid dressage test can cause me such emotion! Anyone else out there like that or is this just a me thing? And for the record I know deep down that I can do a 1-3 test…and I actually could probably do okay in it bending line and all right now. I have just lost my show ring confidence along the way.

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9 thoughts on “I Could NEVER Do First Level Test Three!

  1. What I learned in the clinic that I went to is that even though some of the movements seem harder, they actually better prepare the horse for the next movement coming up. Does that make sense? Supposedly it is all supposed to flow better. So one movement transitions better into the next. Yes harder, but better to ride. You can do it!

  2. The whole reason there is a first-3 is to prepare you for second-1. But that means there is a first-1 and a first-2 so you can ride first level. The tests were set up to HELP you progress up the levels. So, don’t look at it as a failure not to do first-3 right off the bat. Look at it as not skipping a couple of steps (you did only do TL last year). And your trainer is right…you have all season. No one says you have to ride the same tests all year.

  3. It is a progression, so if a test appears impossible, in theory you should be able to drop down to the previous test and find the exercise that will fix the hole.
    Take a deep breath and tell yourself it is not all black and white but many many shades of grey and steps forward and steps back. Like a dance. Try to enjoy the process.
    I have to tell you that I went through months with Nina where it was one step forward and two steps back. Now, THAT was frustrating. Now we are making one or two or three steps forward and one step back.
    I have a student just like you who views a step back as a failure. Think of it more like a half halt. Rebalance, take a deep breath and try forward again. 🙂

  4. Yeah… Erin was saying something about that. I need to take a look. Ozzy and I are never going to make it past intro if he doesn’t stop spooking at the fence anyway so I’m not terribly concerned. I hear they got rid of the halt in Intro A, which makes me sad because halt is about the only thing Ozzy does well. LOL.

  5. Oh geez!!! Start with looking at FIRST ONE silly!!!! It is foolish to start at the top level of the test until you have successfully ridden one and two. ;-P

    For the record, I don’t think the tests are harder. They are DIFFERENT so everyone gets all upset that the patterns are different, you are asked to do a trot or canter at a different letter, etc. and interprets that as “harder”.

    I think this after being at the USDF Symposium in Florida last December and just hearing “S” judge Charlotte Trentleman speak to my GMO yesterday.

    YOU CAN DO IT! Start with the first two tests of the level. It is only February and you have TONS of time to ride and practice. That is the point right? To practice and improve! WHo wants to go out and do perfectly the first time??? There is no fun in that! LOL! ;-D

  6. I love your trainer – she seems to know what to say to get you to calm down! 🙂 I think the others are right too – start with test 1 and work your way up over the season. Your love for dressage and riding will get you through the tricky bits!!

  7. If you can do trot serpentines you can do 1-3! I actually like it – it asks you to circle on the same bend you had leg yielding, then trot a figure 8, basically. (Umm… I’m saying this without my whinny widgets handy, so it’s possible I’m remembering wrong.) You leg yield back essentially on the bend you have from your circle. The part folks will have the most trouble with is the change of bend on figure 8, but I’ve seen you get Phoenix to straighten out of a bend, and also go from straight to a bend, staying balanced the whole time. That’s all a change of bend really is!

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