There might be “trouble at t’ mill” when many riders try the new tests that have been introduced this year. One of the biggest culture changes will be at elementary level, where, traditionally, horses who were calm, obedient and accurate took the spoils.

With many more transitions, both within and between the paces, being heavily scored, riders may label the four new elementaries a bit “stop and go” and argue that they lack flow. But in the longer term this view will change.

A special feature throughout is the trot-walk-trot transition showing three to five steps of walk. From a training point of view, this is the preparation exercise for developing the half-halt.

To get the horse into the habit of showing good transitions is an everyday routine; there can be no quick fixes in this department for the badly trained horse. Therefore, these new tests will definitely have a good effect on training the horse in the long term.

British Dressage’s tests working party identified that elementary is a crossroads in the training of the young horse. They have devised changes that will reward athleticism and controlled power. And the working party has done its job — to guide correct training.

Horse and riders alike will breathe a sigh of relief with the news that all medium trot in elementary tests can be ridden rising or sitting. On behalf of the horse, can I make a plea that most should opt for rising?

Rising in medium trot will encourage the horse to swing through its back — a pre-requisite for correct work. I would always advocate giving them some relief through the option of taking the rising trot, if only for a few steps.

The birth of a new test is, incidentally, quite a lengthy process. These tests were created about two years ago, written, proof-read, then tested on competitors, corrected, reviewed at judges’ seminars and the Pyramid trainers’ forum; proof-read again and then printed and introduced. I think they’ve done a damn good job.

  • Read Richard’s thoughts in full, including his views on the new advanced 103 test, in the current issue of Horse & Hound on sale now.


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