Upper Levels
 
 

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Upper Levels

This is a discussion on Upper Levels within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category
  • What does it take for horse to go to FEI levels
  • Dream to be an upper level dressage rider...am i crazy?

 
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    01-11-2010, 01:13 PM
  #1
Foal
Upper Levels

I know a lot of we lower level dressage riders (well, myself in particular) and those who are just starting out in dressage look at the people competing Grand Prix and (sometimes in a pathetic and hopeless voice) say to ourselves "Will I ever get there?"
Maybe some of us don't have the money, or the horse, or the time, or the trainer, or the support from those around us (or any combination thereof) to get there. Maybe come of us do have those things and are on our way up there.

So to all you folks riding GP- what sort of hurdles did you have to overcome to pursue you dream of riding at this level? What was the hardest part about your journey? Was it worth it all? How long did it take you to finally acieve this? Any advice you want to share?

And to all of you that are with me: just getting started, competing at lower levels, slowly but steadily making your way up the levels, or so close to GP you can almost taste it- whats it like for you, making your way in the dressage world? What sort of roadblocks are you running into? What level are you at? How long has it taken you to get there? Do you want to eventually achieve GP level? Care to share any word of wisom you've picked up along the way?

Ashleigh
     
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    01-11-2010, 01:25 PM
  #2
Green Broke
I am competeing at 2nd level this year, haha farfar away from GP, but I enjoy showing just the same. All I want to be able to do is show off what me and my horse have learned so far. I am jjust chuggin along, slowly getting better and better with time. I am in no rush to get to GP, I know I wouldnt be able to do GP with the horse I have now, and she is the one horse I love more then anything. So I am happy with how far we have come, and im not looking at how far we can go, im just going along happily :)

The barn owner where I board is actually shooting for the 2012 summer olympics. She is 50-some years old and has been riding all her life, and she finally got the right horse, and went to a robert dover clinic, so now she is going to cali to train! She never expected that to happen and it might never happen for me, but I don't mind, you never know whats going to come out of the blue

Haha I want to be a horse trainer anyway :P
     
    01-11-2010, 01:43 PM
  #3
Showing
You hit the nail on the head - due to a lack of time, the right horse (or the $100,000 to get the right horse), and the right trainer, I never made it past schooling most GP movements at home, on a horse that could have taken me to GP, if we could have taken the risk on a gelding that wouldn't pass a vet check completely sound (he had stifle issues, it got better with work, but would never be 100% sound for a vet check.) Then university came along, and now I own an OTTB that I absolutely adore, but can't see being your next Olympic Ferro.
I hope you realize your dream!! I'm more than happy working through the basics on my guy now :)
     
    01-11-2010, 02:01 PM
  #4
Foal
I'm in no hurry to get to GP- I've got college coming up in about six months, so definetly no money for a $100,000 horse or the trainer to go with it! But eventually, just as a goal for myself, I do want to get to GP. Even if I'm not competing, at least I'll know I can accomplish what is required in GP. As for now, I've got the horses at the therapy program who I love and wouldnt trade for anything.

Who knows, maybe when I'm fifty-something everything will fall into place like it did for ridergirl23's barn owner!
     
    01-11-2010, 05:17 PM
  #5
Trained
Ridergirl23's barn owner has been riding dressage for a very long time and has trained with many Olympians. It isn't fluke or "things falling into place" that are getting her to international competition. It's 30 years of hard work, an impeccable eye for a good horse and a lot of sponsorship. And as far as I know she's going to Florida, not California. She's actually training with Robert Dover. My coach is already down there at his place.

Although the horse is a big part of the equation, $100,000 is not going to buy you a horse that will just carry you up to the higher levels. If you want a horse that does that then add a zero.
The most important thing, and I can't stress this enough, is to have an excellent coaching team and program. Yes, spending money on a good horse is inevitable, but you really need to evaluate with your coaching team what's going to be best, and find a suitable horse.
For me that meant starting essentially from scratch. I was looking for a horse to do Prix St Georges last year, and this year but realistically I didn't have the resources to do that. Halfway through planning a trip to Europe with a broker, I found a lovely young horse and bought him. The broker I was working with saw him and thought that he could have found nothing in Europe like him. It meant putting off Pan Am aspirations, but the horse is more than capable of Grand Prix and is going to provide a great base for me on my first journey to the upper FEI levels.
Finally after 10 years of schooling dressage full time I have the skills as a rider, a suitable horse and an excellent coaching team that in the next few years I am hoping to be on small tour, and eventually make it to the Dynasty Cup.
It is a triangle, you must have a good horse, yourself be a good rider and have an excellent coach in order to make it anywhere, if one is lacking then the triangle is not complete and you can't advance.
     
    01-11-2010, 05:46 PM
  #6
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~    
ridergirl23's barn owner has been riding dressage for a very long time and has trained with many Olympians. It isn't fluke or "things falling into place" that are getting her to international competition. It's 30 years of hard work, an impeccable eye for a good horse and a lot of sponsorship. And as far as I know she's going to Florida, not California. She's actually training with Robert Dover. My coach is already down there at his place.

Although the horse is a big part of the equation, $100,000 is not going to buy you a horse that will just carry you up to the higher levels. If you want a horse that does that then add a zero.
The most important thing, and I can't stress this enough, is to have an excellent coaching team and program. Yes, spending money on a good horse is inevitable, but you really need to evaluate with your coaching team what's going to be best, and find a suitable horse.
For me that meant starting essentially from scratch. I was looking for a horse to do Prix St Georges last year, and this year but realistically I didn't have the resources to do that. Halfway through planning a trip to Europe with a broker, I found a lovely young horse and bought him. The broker I was working with saw him and thought that he could have found nothing in Europe like him. It meant putting off Pan Am aspirations, but the horse is more than capable of Grand Prix and is going to provide a great base for me on my first journey to the upper FEI levels.
Finally after 10 years of schooling dressage full time I have the skills as a rider, a suitable horse and an excellent coaching team that in the next few years I am hoping to be on small tour, and eventually make it to the Dynasty Cup.
It is a triangle, you must have a good horse, yourself be a good rider and have an excellent coach in order to make it anywhere, if one is lacking then the triangle is not complete and you can't advance.
haha ya, sorry, florida( she goes to cali to show), thanks for correcting me
She still needs sponsorships right now, but she's working hard to get 'em!
     
    01-11-2010, 07:00 PM
  #7
Started
I was just thinking about this same thing the other day. I started out at a dressage barn and worked my way up to training/schooling first level, and then my coach left the barn so I went with her. Then I ended up at an Eventing barn, where they rarely actually worked on dressage - which sucked! Finally I got fed up and went back to my first barn, but I was right back where I was when I had left. After about a year I had to leave again because I couldn't fit school, riding and work (to pay for riding) all into my schedule.. This was about 2 and a half years ago, and now I see people who were just starting out when I went back to my first barn and they're winning championships at First Level, it's really a huge bummer to me. I've been riding a horse who is talented enough to compete at Second Level, but I just can't afford to take enough lessons/ride enough. I do plan on taking lessons again, but it just seems I'm going to have to wait until I have a good full time job and am doing really well on my own, as my parents won't pay for riding anymore.
Sigh!
     
    01-11-2010, 07:08 PM
  #8
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by SunriseNorth    
Maybe some of us don't have the money, or the horse, or the time, or the trainer, or the support from those around us (or any combination thereof) to get there. Maybe come of us do have those things and are on our way up there.

So to all you folks riding GP- what sort of hurdles did you have to overcome to pursue you dream of riding at this level? What was the hardest part about your journey? Was it worth it all? How long did it take you to finally acieve this? Any advice you want to share?
No support
No expensive horse (he actually had hock problems but still made it anyways)
No coach
No money..actually very little as I was working


Just a lot of brazen desire, in spite of what people said and 1 good book.
     
    01-11-2010, 07:32 PM
  #9
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyder    
No support
No expensive horse (he actually had hock problems but still made it anyways)
No coach
No money..actually very little as I was working


Just a lot of brazen desire, in spite of what people said and 1 good book.
That makes me feel a little better! For me, no prayer of affording even a mediocre horse (at least as a dressage judge would see it.. Scout is my baby, and a great horse in my eyes ), and no dressage coaches in geographical or financial proximity to me.

I'm an extreme newbie to the world of dressage, and I simply read, watch, try to learn, and salivate. With much luck, in a few years maybe Scout and I will be ready to try a Training level test at a show. GP horses and riders (shoot, at this point, Training level teams!) seem like gods to me at this point!

Good thread, I enjoy reading these!
     
    01-11-2010, 09:56 PM
  #10
Foal
What kind of GP do you want to do? Do you want to be correct, but not necessarily competitive or are we talking about national and international level?

For the former you do not need a million dollar horse. Although, for any horse, the initial investment is inconsequential compared to the continuing costs of keeping a horse.

I'm just about to FEI now but my changes and tempis are just not there. I train full time and I have had the opportunity to ride many types of horses from all levels. My current "good horse" is a 13 y/o 17.1h TB that really does look like a Warmblood. Unfortunately he doesn't move like one, but he will go all the way to GP. He has all the movements, he just has to put them all together. I had a 9 y/o Arabian problem child that was athletic enough to do GP, but maybe not the mind for it. I have had many that were not ideal dressage horses that could easily do 3rd level work (if not more) including QH's, TB's, Morgans, and Arabians. And mind you, not all Warmbloods will have the athleticism and work ethic to make it to GP.

That being said, if you get a good enough eye, feel, and get to really know horses, you can pick out a prospect and bring it along yourself if you don't have money. If it doesn't work out, you sell it and buy something else. If you did a good job, got it up a couple levels and it's not crazy, you will get your money back and then some. Reinvest! It's not the perfect way to get to the GP, but it's not a perfect world and there is no perfect horse.

As a side note, I've had more trouble with keeping horses sound (mostly due to accidents!) than horses that simply cannot do the work. This is the sad part with horse ownership. You can be stuck with an unsound horse and thousands in vet bills, facing very hard decisions. Make friends, get your face out there, and network. You never know who you are going to meet or what sort of opportunities might come your way.

Finding good instruction is hard. In some areas, impossible! Good instruction is expensive. I decided to take up a part time working student position with an FEI trainer to step up my game. I really think this is where people that are truly dedicated to dressage get hung up. It's not just about finding someone that rides GP that gives lessons, it's about finding someone that rides GP correctly that gives lessons that can connect with you. Since everyone learns differently, it's not a one size fits all situation.

I am taking my dressage journey one level at a time. Perfect the level that you are at, play with the things just beyond, but don't get lost in the tricks. Enjoy what you have and what you can do.
     

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advice, dressage, grand prix, lower levels

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