What level am I???

Okay, I admit it. I am embarrassed of my riding right now. Or should I say, I am embarrassed to be entering a show at the moment. Why? Because I am heeding my trainers advice which means…I am a walk/trot rider this year.

There I said it. Man, I even cringed when I typed it.

I need to get over it though because if I want to show this year (which I obviously do) this is what it is going to have to be. It kills me that I couldn’t get out of my own way when it comes to the SchoolMaster. In fact, I think that might be why I am having such a hard time with it. Just a few short months ago I was working on canter halfpasses (mind you I was freaking out about it in my head) and now I can’t even canter in the show ring.

I made the decision to ride at walk/trot for many reasons, but it is still hard. The most obvious reason was that TM will not stop after a canter. I blame that on her OTTB ways. She is not taking off with me or galloping away, but once she starts to canter she thinks that she has to canter forever. I occasionally still have to use the fence to get her to trot again. That is not exactly a safe technique in general, and especially not safe during a show where there could potentially not be a fence as well as having lots of other horses around. As my trainer says, the canter will come. It is already getting better and so with time TM will have three lovely gaits.

I also decided that with all the trouble she had at the last show, doing something that I find easy might not be a bad thing at the moment. Hopefully she will be a total angel at the next show, but just in case she is not at least at walk/trot I feel confident that we can do everything that is expected without adding too much additional stress. Plus, it will mean that I can have more control over the flow warm up (instead of needing to canter early which is what I found I need to do with her to have any chance of getting a good trot after the canter).

So my dream for this year was not exactly to be riding Starter Horse Walk/Trot, but with all things considered I do think that it is the perfect level for where TM is right now. Plus, the bonus is that once I get TM’s head on straight for a show she has the potential to get some nice scores. I get very envious of people who get to go though the levels with their horses. I am just going through the same levels over and over again on different horses!

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11 thoughts on “What level am I???

  1. I’ve had my horse for a year and a few months. He evented training level, does good starter canter pirouettes… and I’m considering entering some intro level dressage classes with him (probably hors concours or however that’s spelled.) He stresses too much at shows. I’m thinking maybe if we make it so easy it’s boring and no reason to stress that’ll help him. Except that his mind gets going too fast when not occupied. Again, that OTTB thing!
    There’s nothing wrong with doing the right thing for a horse. And it sounds like for TM, just walk trot is the right thing for her. Good luck – and I bet you find it works out well soon!

  2. Ribbons. Think about the ribbons. You are bound to get ribbons doing walk/trot!! Heck, I’m 48 years old doing walk/trot and winning most of my classes and damn proud of it.

  3. Going through the same doubts as you about showing at what level – thinking I should be higher than I am for all of the effort and time I’ve put into this dressage thing.
    But you must do what’s best for the horse first and foremost. Second, you will loose confidence if you show above the level you are ready. And by “you” I mean “the human and the horse”. It’s a partnership with two parties. You know YOU can go out and do a good TL test, but TM is not even really walk/trot (from all you’ve described, she’s really not, so you may want to lower your expectations and you’ll be happier). Rushing TM’s training is unfair to her (and going to a horse show is part of training).
    And stop saying you’re embarrassed. That’s ridiculous!

  4. I agree with Michelle, think of the ribbons! While TM may not be perfect (yet) it sounds like you’re developing a fantastic relationship with her; she’s a very lucky pony to have someone so caring and sensible as her rider, someone who knows and respects the level she’s at. Not everyone would be able to see past themselves to lookat the horse.

  5. It is what it Is….You are doing right by your horse and you are doing right by you! You don’t have to prove anything to anyone!!!
    And believe me, many, many riders stay for years at the same Training or First Level with the SAME horse and never move on. Trust your trainer, trust your horse, and above all, trust your gut!!!! You’ll get there!!!

  6. So, here I am at this biggie-wow dressage symposium with all these famous horses and riders and a European dressage coach of some note. And this big GP stallion with its owner comes trotting into the arena for their turn and what does the dressage coach (of some note) have them work on? THE HALT!

    Bottom line, which he said many times, is, we can never forget the basics, and if it means going back to them every day (for warmup, for example) or we have to go to them because we have a new horse (new to US, not necessarily new to the whole concept of being ridden OR to dressage). Skip the basics at your peril.

    I never forgot that. I’m not much farther along in my dressage journey than I was when I began — am thinking of having a Training Level Maven logo made for myself — but I would never kick myself for having to go back to square halts, prompt, “hot off the leg” move-offs, forward with joy, etc.

    I’ve scribed enough to know two things: Competitors lose a LOT of points at the first and last halt of a test, in corners, with geometry, etc., and a lot of people compete at levels far above where their riding ability and horse’s training puts them. One judge I scribed for said over and over, “That horse is NOT in the frame for the level he’s in.”

    There are TWO parties in this dressage journey — you and the horse. You have to take both sides into consideration. The other thing is, you ride the HORSE, not the test. I heard that the other day and am going to have THAT made up for myself as well.

  7. I know exactly how you feel!! I went through the same thing this year when deciding to show. I really didnt want to enter intro, but what it came down to is doing what is best for the horse. She gets so nervous going into the ring, showing training level really isnt going to do anything for us. So we are taking it slow at intro, and hopefully next year we can start moving up! If you start slowly and show intro, hopefully you guys will have good experiences at the shows and that is a good thing to build on.
    As for the schoolmaster, I think he wasnt enough of a challenge for you. You need a project like the mare to keep your mind busy. And with a horse like the mare, every small step in the right direction is so rewarding! So good luck at the show, and dont be ashamed of riding intro, because you are not an intro rider, you are doing what is best for your horse 🙂

  8. Don’t feel too bad. I’ve been Walk/Trot for 5 years now, because I keep getting greenies! I haven’t ridden a “real” broke horse since my first year of riding, I’m a catch rider now, haha!

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