First Level Time!

Despite the training holes I’m currently working to fill (read: develop a forward thinking half halt by not freaking pulling so much), I went and did something both exciting and horrifying.

I signed up for First Level at a USDF recognized show.
I mean. I guess this could be a First Level horse?
I’m both excited and terrified. I know Bast is 1000x better prepared for First Level than Pig was when he and I first embarked on our quest. However, because I’ve been here before I also know just how imperfect he is. I can very clearly see his faults and lacking training. I know we’re not going to walk out of this particular show with a 67% on our test.

However, I don’t think he’s unprepared. I fully expect to be able to execute a perfectly adequate 1-2 test. The horse has a nice leg yield. He has the balance needed for the level. He accepts the bit appropriately (most of the time …), and has the developing thrust needed for the medium gaits. The problem is that he has a lot of moments where he doesn't accept the bit or forgets to push from his hind end.
It would be nice if he could keep his outside hind connected to his body, and close his mouth. At the same time. That would, in fact, be helpful.
First Level is such a weird level to me. There are enough movements to challenge the horse and rider, but overall it's still not asking much of the horse. The balance isn't collected, and the horse is allowed to be pretty inconsistent in the contact compared to the middle levels. That said, classes at this level are full of horses who are exceptional and capable of pulling scores in the 70s up showing right next to a horse barely able to stay in the ring.

Bast and I have been working hard on confirming our First Level basics, so I took some time to run through the 1-2 test a week ago and video the attempt. What I ended up with was not perfect, but a good starting place. Unfortunately the ring was not set up, so things that can shine for this horse (like the leg yields) don't show as well as they should in the video.

When I watch this run through, I see a horse who takes a little too long to respond to the half halt and the forward aid. I also see a rider who is very slow to ask for what she needs, or to ride confidently. We've been working on sharpening up those particular issues, especially as they relate to the canter transitions and lengthenings, over the last week. With luck, our work will pay off on Wednesday.

Wish us luck?


  1. Good luck! You guys are going to do great!

  2. It's funny how like the first time we run through a thing/levels with our horses (you and pig and first level, me and Carlos and moving up fence height) we were probably less prepared but still did the thing, then the next time we go through it we're wiser and the horse is better prepared but we doubt.

    That being said I think you both will do great!

    1. This is soooo true. Though, different horses can be such different challenges.

  3. i already know how this story ends haha but yay for Bast being ready for the big step up :D


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