Moving up levels
For the average eventer & horse, how long do you stay at a particular level? I am just starting out at BN1, how do I determine when to move a level? Do I focus more on my dressage score or how we do at stadium or xc? Or some combination of all three?
It's really a balancing act between all three phases and it depends on the partnership.
For me, I have a standard of 3 events with a Double Clear in SJ and XC to move up... if we're ready.
I'd say one year at BN at least before novice. It's really up to you though. You will know when your ready and so will your trainer. When you are going clean in stadium and XC and schooling XC at the level above solidly and well, then it may be time to start thinking about it. I always start out moving up at a few combined training events (stadium and dressage) before doing a full event. My horse, right now, is solid BN cross country and schooling MOST of the novice elements just fine. We are doing BN recognized but are going to start doing combined training events at novice. When I feel he is sold BN XC at shows and solid novice at combined training, I will then consider doing my first novice horse trial.
I agree ^^ I would spend 1 solid year at a level before moving up.
Jim Wofford and David O'Connor wrote some great articles on how to decipher when you are ready to move up, I know I read them in the PH Magazine, I have to dig them up - but they both give great tips.
Don't rush yourselves - when you do that, accidents start to happen because you discover you are overfaced - so take your time. Enjoy yourselves and just have fun where you are comfortable.
Important Rule Of Thumb though - your Trainer should be working with you, 1 level above what you are competing *when you are ready* So if you are competing at BN, you should be confidendly schooling over N.
While dressage is important - due to the short formats....it isn't the be all and end all at lower levels. Nelson and I can place 5th after dressage, and still take 1st after CC and Stadium - but the higher you go in levels, your dressage score can and will make or break your placings. But, conquoring personal goals is more important than winning a ribbon.
Focus on all 3 for sure - learn to be solid, learn to be confident, learn to make mistakes and correct them.
Here is a great radio discussion with Boyd Martin that'll help you - start at 13.29 minutes....
Moving Up the Levels and the PRO-AM Status - Eventing Radio Show
It very much depends on horse and rider and their own training issues and what not.
Even if I go double clear SJ and XC it doesn't mean I rode safely enough or efficiently enough that I'm ready to move up to the next level. And just because I have a killer dressage score it doesn't mean I'm ready to move up. It comes down to how EFFECTIVE a rider you are and how well you can see "Okay, we're 6 strides out from this fence and I need to do A, B, and C so I'm ready for D in E number of strides." Basically, problem solving skills. You should be able to see what's going to happen and be able to either maintain your current way of going or change it (in relation to jumping obviously, not for dressage). Your dressage, overall, should be consistent at the current level you're at, and IMHO you should be scoring in the thirties (which would be in the 60s for normal dressage competition).
Obviously you should also feel completely comfortable with any possible question that could come up at the level you're looking to advance to (i.e. you should feel comfortable with the idea of doing a full SJ and XC course at the N level).
It totally depends on the horse and rider. I'm in Canada so our levels are mildly differant. We start at Pre-Entry and then Entry then Pre-Training then Training and so on and so forth. My first show season was last year and I only did 3 events but I was never out of the ribbons. I did PE. I will probably do one PE event this year then move up to E. INHO you shouldn't move up until your scores are high enough that your winning or at least placing. I have friends who've done 2 show seasons, 4+ shows and have never placed at these shows. The best they've done is 10. They're both moving up and IMHO that's not smart. If they aren't placing at the low levels what is the point of moving up and tackling the high levels.
it really depends on the horse and the rider and how their season is going. i dont like to push the horse past their ability so i make tentative goals and see how they are doing.
my old trainer who is an expert in xc and how to ride xc fences [and shes crazy] always says that you are ready to start a level if you are not afraid of 3/4 of the course. lol that is mostly a joke bc she really meant if 1/4 of the course was a challange you were ready for it.
Thank you all for your advice. Your comments help me put my expectations into perspective. I most definitely need to remember that moving up a level is not a race, but rather a journey. One that we both must enjoy
i only show for fun so my focus is on being the best we can. overall we are usually clear xc, stadium varies on whether we are focused or not. dressage is usually our strong suit but at shows last season my clyde cross decided he was a spooky 3 yr old again LOL! soooo we'll repeat beg novice until he is focused again at the shows (we will school novice) and his dressage score is improved and he is clear xc and stadium.
i think you have a good plan - just take it slow. i never understood the rush to move up up up! xc my horse is nearly ALWAYS clean on so i try to count that the LEAST and focus on him being clean and attentive in stadium and in being balanced and focused despite distractions in dressage :) good luck! and have FUN!!!
My trainer has a rule like 4 bn, 4-6 nov, 6-8 training, 4 prelim for a CIC* and so on. But judge in on how you feel. Are you nervous at your level? Are you confident you will make it through the course? How hard to you train? How many lesson do you get? How much experience does your horse have? Things like that. Example, I've been at Training for a year now. The past 4 or 5 events i have gone totally clear and ive lost my nervous feelings. I think that signals i should be working my way to prelim pretty soon. But there is no rush to move up. it is better to be bored at a lower level than to be out of control and scared at a higher level. xc is the main difference between the levels. and it depends on the course. when you move up find your home turf or find a very small event that is notoriously easy. but the best person to ask is your trainer. hopefully they will know when you are ready.
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