Friday, March 09, 2007

Some thoughts on showing

Many people have asked me, in person and via the internet, about Kaswyn and how he's doing. When I get to the part about my uncertainty if we'll be able to show at the level we showed before, I've been asked if it would be possible for me to drop my horse down a few levels and start showing him there to see if he can hold up.

While that sounds like a great solution, it's not something I would do. It's not specifically against the rules, but it would be greatly frowned upon by the dressage community at large. I'm not saying that people don't do it. However, I won't do it and here is why.

Dressage in the US is broken down in levels from easiest to hardest. Each level has a training goal and expectation that your horse should achieve certain physical and mental goals before showing at that level. The idea is that as you correctly train your horse he should be able to move from one level to the next as he achieves the goals.

The levels are as follows -
Introductory Level (walk trot only)
Training Level
First Level
Second Level
Third Level
Fourth Level
Prix St. George (the first FEI level)
Intermediare I
Intermediare II
Grand Prix (what you see at the olympics)

Each level from training to fourth has 3 or 4 different test (Training level test 1, test 2..) with each test being a little more challenging than the last. So you start with Training level test 1 and go from there. At a show you are allowed to show two consecutive levels. For example, you can show all tests in Second level and all tests in Third level. If you do Third level, you can't drop to Training level at the same show. If you try Third level and one show and it's a train wreck, you can drop to Training and First level at the next show.

Kaswyn has successfully shown at Intermediare I. He has a Reserve National Championship at that level. Dropping him down the Third level because the work would be easier for him would be grossly unfair for those just starting and struggling with Third level.

I feel confident that I could safely drop him down to Fourth Level and Prix St. George because I only showed him once at Intermediare I. My trainer showed him Intermediare I in 2005, and he hasn't shown since. So I feel that Fourth Level and Prix St. George would be acceptable for an amateur owner who hasn't ridden in 2 years coming back to the show ring. This is basically the levels that I last showed with Kaswyn.

As far as qualifications for Sport Horse Nationals, he is already qualified. Kaswyn has been National Champion at both Fourth level and Prix St. George, and National Champions are qualified for Nationals for life. My only deadline would be deadline for entries for the show. I'm certainly not going to drop a bunch of money on entries unless I know for sure that he's in condition to go. Mentally I think he's ready to go now. But physically it's going to take a lot of strength and stamina. Those upper level tests are long and physically challenging.

If we don't get to Sport Horse Nationals this year, we'll go in 2009. Maybe at Grand Prix!


Rising Rainbow said...

I wish you luck. I know how disappointing it can be to have a goal to go to Nationals in any give year and then have to put it off.

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