(Tests have been revised since these articles were written, but basic premise is the same progression. Kristin, July
Riding dressage test patterns
are the determining factor as to how we progress with the horse's training. By actually reading and knowing the required patterns
or new movements, a greater understanding of dressage will occur. Therefore, regardless of which level you are riding, and/or
can compete with your horse, it is beneficial to know the requirements of the next two to three tests beyond that level. Thus,
if you are riding First Level Test 2, familiarize yourself with First Level Tests 3 and 4 and Second Level Tests 1 and 2.
You will notice by studying the
tests that the test levels are progressive from Training Level to Grand Prix, and that even within each level the tests proceed
step by step. For example, First Level Test 4 is more difficult than First Level Tests, 1, 2, and 3.
Familiarizing yourself with the
tests beyond what you are presently riding is not meant to scare you because the patterns become more difficult, but to help
enhance your understanding of the training process. For example, by studying the tests, you will realize that the ten-meter
circles required in First Level Tests 3 and 4 are necessary to develop the horse's gymnastic ability (and the rider's coordination)
to achieve the lateral work required in Second Level on up.
A simple example of how the tests
feed into one another is in First Level Test 2 where part of the test pattern is to ride two ten-meter half-circles. Then
in First Level Test 3, the ten-meter half-circles become ten-meter full circles.
The examples would be numerous
if you studied all the tests. Even at the higher levels an example is the half pass, which introduced at Third Level, develops
into a half canter pirouette at Fourth Level. However, the rider must remember that he does not need to know the FEI tests
(above Fourth Level) in order to enhance a First Level ride. But, by having an intellectual knowledge of how the First Level
test patterns relate to the movements required for the FEI tests, will encourage a rider to understand the overall purposes
of dressage to enhance and/or harness the athletic ability of the horse at the riders command.