How do you know when you and your horse are ready to move up a level? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 21 Old 06-23-2010, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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How do you know when you and your horse are ready to move up a level?

I get asked this question alot - I personally like to go by Jim Woffords rules:

1) You ride a full season at 1 level competantly
2) You place top 3 in minimally 3 HT's




I see far too many jumping up in levels, before they are ready - ending up in disaster, either being getting hurt, or losing their confidence *either horse and rider or both* - and it is a shame and a great dissapointment to see this, especially for the sport. I hate to see people get hurt, and I especially hate seeing the horses get hurt.

I wish I had the Practicle Horseman where Jim wrote this excellant article, with many great points to it, where he discussed how many accidents are occuring due to fast move up's and unpreparedness.

But I do have a Practicle Horseman where this question was asked, and I really liked the answer:

"I'm a young rider who participates in Eventing. I will know when my young TB gelding is ready to begin showing when he can work in a decent rhythm and effectively carry a frame at all three gaits, and jump willingly and safely over fences

A horse and rider can move up a level when they have succeeded in their current level. If you are consistently winning, you are ready to move up. You should not move up if you haven't placed at a show, and you definitely shouldn't move up if you are unsafe in the jumping phases - pulling rails, cross country stops and runouts, the lack of effective half-halts are all warning signs.

However, it is essential that both the horse and rider are comfortable with moving up to the next level. Keep in mind that these beautiful animals are not machines and a fast move-up in levels can easily hinder their althetic ability and work ethic. Riders and their horses must be safe, smart and have fun"

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post #2 of 21 Old 06-24-2010, 12:53 AM
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Quote:
A horse and rider can move up a level when they have succeeded in their current level. If you are consistently winning, you are ready to move up. You should not move up if you haven't placed at a show, and you definitely shouldn't move up if you are unsafe in the jumping phases - pulling rails, cross country stops and runouts, the lack of effective half-halts are all warning signs.
This is how I judge readiness, but myself and my horse must also be working competently over every jump on a course at the next level, plus one or two straightforward jumps at the level above that even. I'm of the mentality that you show at the level below what you're actually schooling.

"Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then, always be a unicorn."
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post #3 of 21 Old 06-24-2010, 06:39 AM
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110% agreed and a great point too!!! There's a reason that Eventing is considered an Extreme Sport...you have to really be sure both you and your horse are ready or you're just playing with fire.

I always go by the rule of competing for a full season at one level and if we are consistently placing or just doing very well for us...not knocking poles and getting refusals etc...then the next year we could move up a level.

My horse and I went to a hunter pace this year where we jumped a couple 2'9" coops...does that mean I can shoot up from Very Green where my jumps don't exceed 2'0" to 2 levels above that? Absolutely not...unless we're looking for disaster! ;)

It's really all about safety and fun and sometimes people forget that...glad you posted about it Kim!!! :)
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post #4 of 21 Old 06-24-2010, 04:43 PM
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I think those rules are ok, but I don't personally like follow the ones that involve competing specifically. Im lucky if I get to 3HTs a year. Although when I was competing my pony we nearly always got first or second - he was a star. I move up when at least 1/2-3/4 of a course [at any particular level] feels easy & the rest a bit challanging...if that makes sense ? Also I always school a level [or 2] above what I compete.

Also knowing your horse really well is very important. Knowing what their limits are & where they struggle & excel in dressage & jumping. Also knowing when to push them further & when to back off.

Gypsy & Scout <3
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~Albert Einstein
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post #5 of 21 Old 06-24-2010, 05:30 PM
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I like those rules and am basically applying them right now. I did a full BN season, and placed 5th, WOULD have been in 1st (that whole dressage incedent... lol, it's still funny!), and second. I'm doing one more BN and then moving up to Novice this fall. I have near flawless dressage, and I'm confident jumping 3' courses (including oxers, combos, bending lines, slicing, etc) and I have a pretty rocking T-point ;)

I also think what your trainer thinks is a good thing too. They're the ones seeing you often, and know you and your horse. If they think you shouldn't be moving up, there's a legitament reason!

Jumping a horse = Getting wings!
Why live on the edge when you can jump off?- Greenwood Horse Trials Tee-Shirt
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post #6 of 21 Old 06-25-2010, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
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I also think what your trainer thinks is a good thing too. They're the ones seeing you often, and know you and your horse. If they think you shouldn't be moving up, there's a legitament reason!
Yes and No - I'm not dissagreeing with you, don't get me wrong, but there are Coaches out there who have students compeating at levels that they shouldn't be. It happens.

~~~

For me, I know my horse went Prelim, and I know that he is more than capeable to go at least Training, but I had to get over my fear of Stadium first before we even progressed forward.

I'm stuck in a dillema though - should we move forward or stay at BN? The reason I ask is because our Dressage is what holds us back. Yes, every BN event we compeate at, we place top 3 - but I hate that we have to climb the ladder to get there. Our Dressage knocks us either 5th or lower and I have to rely on other competators to get penalty points or what have you, and I hate that.

So, do we stay at BN? Is it really fair? Are we really ready to move forward?

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post #7 of 21 Old 06-25-2010, 11:01 AM
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that's true. We were just having that coversation in the truck. (on our way to Buck Davidson!!!) some coaches arnt good.

I think you guys should just not jump for a couple months and do straight dressage. That's what I did and our dressage is sooooooooooooooooooooo much better!!
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post #8 of 21 Old 06-25-2010, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by MIEventer View Post
The reason I ask is because our Dressage is what holds us back. Yes, every BN event we compeate at, we place top 3 - but I hate that we have to climb the ladder to get there. Our Dressage knocks us either 5th or lower and I have to rely on other competators to get penalty points or what have you, and I hate that.

So, do we stay at BN? Is it really fair? Are we really ready to move forward?
The main problem with your dressage is that it looks too hunterish. The connection from front to back is there but not strong enough.
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post #9 of 21 Old 06-25-2010, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Stormy and Spyder! I appreciate your help, greatly! I have a dressage lesson set up for tomorrow.

Spyder, can you elaborate more on how to make it stronger? Where are the gaps?

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post #10 of 21 Old 06-25-2010, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by MIEventer View Post
Spyder, can you elaborate more on how to make it stronger? Where are the gaps?

The horse is just missing that lift in the front. There is animation but lost in the front and appears to be running through the bridle, not badly but just enough to not allow more cadence and suspension.

This why you are getting decent points, but the horse is not quite "there". He is not really caught between the inside and outside rein and this shows very much with the head movement during transitions ( and even in between).

I can only point areas of weakness, you need to discuss this with your trainer in the best way to resolve it. Your trainer knows your horse better and his level of fitness.
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