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Western Dressage: Understanding Basic Level Tests 3 & 4

December 15, 2015
Lynn Palm
Lynn Palm

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Western Dressage: Understanding Basic Level Tests 3 & 4

By Lynn Palm

Now that you are moving forward, let’s go into more detail about the gaits you and your horse will ride when competing at the Basic Level.
Working Jog - The jog is a two-beat gait of alternate diagonal legs separated by a moment of suspension. The gait has ground-covering forward motion with energy. The horse is in an uphill frame with the head in front of, or on, the vertical.
Free Jog - This is a pace of moderate lengthening stride and frame compared to the Working Jog. Without hurrying, the horse goes forward in a two-beat gait with clearly lengthened steps, with impulsion from the hindquarters and uphill balance. The rider allows the horse to carry the head a little more in front of the vertical than at the Collected and Working jog. The horse's neck is "out," down and forward with the nose in front of the vertical. The rider has a loose rein and horse's poll is at approximately the same height as the wither, or level with the horse's neck. The steps should be even and the whole movement balanced and unconstrained. The free jog may be ridden posting or sitting.
Working Lope - While maintaining the three-beat cadence, the horse must go forward with even and elastic steps. The back must be relaxed and the shoulders free. There should be an obvious push from the hindquarters and the hind legs step actively up under the horse. The horse must maintain light contact with the bit and his nose must be in front of the vertical.
NEW requirements in Basic Level are:
20-meter circle at the Free Jog
Loop Figure
Serpentine Figure
Here are my tips for riding Basic Level Test 3:
1. Enter at the Working Jog and halt through the walk. Remember to walk about five steps before you halt at X.
2. 20-meter circle at E. This is my favorite 20-meter circle at E or B. Starting at E, ride the circle to the center line six feet smaller then the imaginary line from V & P, tangent to the rail at B, center line six feet smaller than the imaginary line from R & S, tangent to the rail at E to complete the circle.
3. The loop from F X M is a new figure introduced in this test. You have to keep the correct bending of your horse with each of the three curves. Tip: straighten your horse just before the quarter line after F then after the quarter line, create your new bend, with X being in the middle of the curve. At the next quarter line, straighten your horse a few strides before it and bend your horse for the last curve. Walk this figure to learn the accuracy before your ride it.
4. The Free Walk is short, so make sure that you lengthen your reins before the quarter line. This way you will not have to hurry to address your reins before your reach F.
5. Your second loop is M X F. Ride this loop exactly the same as you did the first in the other direction.
6. Your Free Jog is at A. Make sure you are accurate with the 20-meter circle. Tip for your Free Jog: Lengthen your reins before you meet the first quarter of your circle. Keep your horse forward at the trot to create the stretch and engagement of the hind legs. Take up your reins in the last quarter and don't hurry. Remember your horse has to show acceptance of the bit and your reins aids when finishing the Free Walk and Free Jog.
7. At the end you have to turn right at E and left at X. Make sure when you turn at E you are looking for C and ride to it. This way you will be on the center line perfectly.
Here are my tips for riding Basic Level Test 4:
1. You have a 20-meter circle starting at B. Ride it exactly as you did starting the 20-meter circle at E.
2. Serpentine of three loops on the quarter line. Tips: Before you reach A, you will have to find the quarter line. Your first loop is going left. After you pass the imaginary line of S&B, straighten your horse and create the new bend to the right, where the middle of your curve is between E and B. Straighten your horse before the imaginary line of V&P and bend your horse back to the left to complete the figure at C. The loops are small and I suggest you to walk this figure several times to get your accuracy before you ride it.
3. The Free Walk is in the "V," as I call it. I love this figure as I like to show that I can make the figure with my leg aids only. Loosen your reins and take up (address your reins) to the light contact at the second quarter line before you end the figure. Make sure you reach X.
4. The second Serpentine is the same figure on the quarter lines just going the other direction with two left loops and one right loop. Walk this figure to get it accurate on the ground and then under saddle. When you get it correct at the walk, then proceed to the Working Jog.
5. Remember to leave the arena after your test in the walk with looped or long reins. I love to pet my horse to reward him for all that he tried in the test!
I hope these tips will help you. If you have any further questions about the Basic Level, don't hesitate to write me at generalinfo@lynnpal.com and I would be more than happy to answer your questions.

In addition, 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 www.lynnpalm.com or call us at 800-503-2824.