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Western Dressage: Understanding Basic Level Tests 1 & 2

October 26, 2015
Western Dressage: Understanding Basic Level Tests 1 & 2

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Western Dressage: Understanding Basic Level Tests 1 & 2
By Lynn Palm
Knowledge is power. It’s always in your best interests to fully understand the dressage tests before you compete. Take time to review and there will be no surprises, so let’s take a closer look at Basic Level Tests 1 and 2.
Basic level is the first level where you will do working walk, working jog, and working lope. New in this level are the 20-meter circle figures at the working lope.
Here are my tips for practice and competitions at these levels:
1. You should time your practice and warm-up at home. This way you can practice in just the right amount of time before you compete. This also includes what you are going to do around the arena before you enter at A.
2. In Tests 1 & 2 you still have to halt at X through the walk. So practice transitions, working jog, walk (about five to six steps), and then halt.
3. I love the turns at E and B in Test 1. Here you have to turn sharp and keep the same rhythm throughout the turn. You cannot pull back on the reins at all! You have to use an open rein and neck rein, along with your leg aids for both turns. Make sure you look early for both turns and that you lean back with your shoulders as you turn. The turn will tilt the horse forward, thus making it harder for him to turn.
4. In Test 1, you have 20-meter circles at A. Walk it on the ground to get the sizing perfect. You will have to do working jog and working lope here as well.
5. Introduced in these tests is the 20-meter circle at the working lope. I love that you have plenty of time to prepare, this will teach you to take your time with the cues for the lope. You also have plenty of time to do the hardest transition: working lope to working jog. I like to see the transition done on the last quarter of the circle. However, as you are starting with this, use the last half of the circle. It says that you have to get the transitions here before A.
6. Free walk is required in both Tests 1 and 2. Make sure that you have your reins really long by the quarter line and then shorten your reins at the other quarter line. This will help your horse to make this a smooth transition from and to the working walk.
7. In Test 2, you have a loop. I love this figure, as you have to show that you can have a slight bend to your horse's body and change it as you do the loop line. This is also a good figure to practice at the walk so you can reach X and have all three loops of equal size to have a good figure. You must master this at the working jog to be able to do working lope, and introduce the counter lope.
8. Also new, you have to do a 20-meter circle at X. I had never done one of these, as it is not traditional in classical dressage. I had to walk this first to get the size correct and to make sure I was starting and ending the circle at X. Not having a real letter to start the circle makes it a fun challenge. (Do your math and refer to the article on dressage mathematics for help.)
9. You will have to do the 20-meter circle at X at both the working jog and working lope. Before X, you have to do the upward and downward transitions from working jog and working lope. It is a bit more difficult because you don't have the arena to give some guideline to keep your horse straight and balanced on the circle during the transitions. Take your time and don't look down as you slow down. Make yourself look at a letter.
Always keep your mind in front of your horse and utilize the letters for this. You will learn to FEEL more. You will feel more clearly how to control your balance in every movement and this will allow you to be the most consistent with clear aids (cues) for your horse.
We love to share our dressage backgrounds and knowledge with you and would love to have you come ride with us. You can join us at our farm in Ocala, Florida, or at one of our Ride Well Clinics on our USA Tour at a location near you.
If you would like to train with Lynn & Cyril at home with Western Dressage, take advantage of the following supportive training materials:
Books: Head To Toe Horsemanship Western Dressage—A Guide to Take You to Your First Show A Rider Guide to Real Collection
DVDs: “Dressage Principles for the Western Horse & Rider” Volume 1 Parts 1-5 “Dressage Principles for the Western & English Horse & Rider” Volume 2,Parts 1-3 “Let Your Horse Be Your Teacher” Parts 1&2
For more information on these training materials and more, as well as clinics, please visit lynnpalm.com or call us at 800-503-2824.