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  • Writer's pictureCrystal Forsell

Dressage Levels Explained: First Level


first level dressage horse

As written on the USDF tests, the purpose of the test:

“To confirm that the horse demonstrates correct basics, and in addition to the requirements of Training Level, has developed improved balance, lateral suppleness and throughness, as well as the thrust to perform lengthenings of strides. The horse should be on the bit. All trot work may be ridden sitting or rising, unless otherwise stated.”


The horse needs to be “on the bit” meaning showing an even greater degree of contact.


The increased balance and thrust is shown through the lengthening of trot and canter.  The strides should not quicken, but get longer and transitions should be defined.  At first level the transitions are part of the lengthening movement, in the same scoring box.


We also show a greater degree of balance and straightness with a counter-canter shallow loop.  


Leg yields show improved lateral suppleness as well.  Watch that the horse stays in alignment in these!


We still have  a stretching circle at first level.


Halts do allow any walk steps.


We also see 15 meter circles, make sure that you are familiar with these to be accurate!


If you think your horse is ready for first level, make sure they can perform these exercises with a fair bit of ease and without major faults.


Ready to take the next step in your training? Dressage To Go will put your coach in your pocket!

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