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  • Writer's pictureCrystal Forsell

Dressage Levels Explained: Introductory

dressage levels explained intro

If you are new to dressage or showing, I’d love to bring some clarity to the different levels for you.


I’ll break it down into a new level each week, so stay tuned!


Introductory or Intro:


USDF purpose of the test: 


“To introduce the rider and/or horse to the sport of dressage, confirming that they are beginning to develop an understanding of correct dressage basics. The horse should be ridden freely forward in a steady tempo and clear rhythm, accepting contact with the bit. An understanding of test accuracy and geometry should be demonstrated.”  


Let’s break that down a bit.


  • The horse should move forward with energy and a clear rhythm. Bottom of the training pyramid!

  • Accepting contact means that the horse can take a feel of the bit, nose in front of the vertical, it does not have to be looking like a first level horse on the bit, but should not be hollow in the back and fussy in the bridle.

  • A clear 20 meter circle of the correct size and bend.  I do see a lot of counter bent 20 meter circles at this level and you will lose points right there.


Intro level is meant for green horses or green riders.


You’ll find intro mostly at schooling shows, not all recognized shows will offer intro classes.


The Intro A and B tests are walk trot only, so perfect for that novice rider that feels a bit intimidated by canter or can’t quite get the transition reliably on the aids yet.


In Intro C, we add canter but in a very easy way, on the circle, so the horse can’t get too speedy losing balance on the long side with you!


There are only a few movements in Introductory level, so really read the test and understand the directive ideas.  This tells you exactly what the judge is looking for.  The details will matter in getting a nice score.


That said, get out there and have fun, this is the level to start getting some experience at!


If you’re looking for help making the perfect 20 meter circle or need exercise ideas, make sure you start your free trial at Dressage To Go.



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