I had a debate with myself about moving up to third level, and whether I/my horse is ready for it. I've been at second level for almost 3 years where I reguarily achieve good scores, and placed in top 5, I can perform all the movements, and its mainly a lack of time working in collected frames, and small issues here and there with a bit of suppleness, lack of concentration and my ugly position.

After some discussion - I've decided to for these reasons
- you are more motivated to improve when you are at the bottom of the level.
- you never know unless you go and try it
- no one gets anywhere by wondering if, they do get places by just doing.

One close friend thinks I'm wrong, and that I should wait until I feel better prepared, I am disagreeing as lng as my expectations are at the level of my horse - why shouldn't I move, I'm not expecting miracles for my first test, just to get some feedback on what to work on to be successfull at that level in the future.

What are your thoughts on moving up, would you move up in my situation?

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Hi, Turbo:

Don't feel negative about being at Second Level for 3 years - most people don't even get to Second Level! The greater number of competitors in NA disappear at First Level (look at the numbers across Canada and the US). Getting the work solid at Second Level takes most people quite some time, and the jump to Third is not quite so hard.

Are you schooling steady and comfortable Fourth Level? If not, I would advise against jumping into Third. My general rule of thumb for myself and my clients is to be working a minimum of one level above the level at which we wish to compete. That makes competition successful, fun, and relaxing. Horses have a right to enjoy competition too, and should not feel pushed to their utmost just to execute a pattern.

If you are aware that you need to work more on collection (that's a big issue at Third Level) and concentration, then GET AT IT! I am concerned about your feeling that you have an "ugly position". I doubt that it's as ugly as you think it is, if you've been steadily successful at Second Level. Try to step back and evaluate yourself as you would someone else, and look for good things about your position - you must be effective, and able to stay out of your horse's way, if you are achieving good scores at Second.

Should you make the jump to Third be prepared to expect lower scores for some time, not jumst for your first test. I question your need for "feedabck about what to do next" as your e-mail seems to knclude that awareness already!
Thanks for your reply!!
I don't feel negative about being at second level at all, I've been quite content there as there are always things to improve - unless your getting close to the 100% there is always room to improve, I'll just never get any higher placings than I am because my TB just won't beat the extragavant moving WBX's I can at least say I'm next in line after them :D

I'm schooling forth level movements, just not regularily at this time (especially as I mainly event and the dressage is just a offsider/offseason thing for me to do), I'm finding it a rather hard feat to stick with my normal schooling routine of 30mins dressage, and then I jump for 30 mins, hack out after for 30mins. Half and hour isn't a long time when your talking a warm up, strectching, lateral movements and my exercise/aim of the day for that ride (say improvement in travers, more impulsion through the halfpass), an then its move onto my jumping aim of the day. I'm of the belief however - that I'm better to do 30mins solid real work where I try not to stay in one pace/movement for more than half the long side(unless warrented to go the whole long side), than a hours worth of 20m circles or half pie work just trying to improve the horses way of going at trot or canter I belive the other exercises you do naturally improve on the horses gait by suppling/balance and engaging them with out the hard work of collect, more leg, colect more leg half halt on the circle as I see many people doing.

The ugly position is just that its not a classical position, I tend to be to far fowards with the upper body, and a tendency to ride with long rein and end up with my hands in my lap. I do know that I'm stable, with a soft seat and steady lower leg, but not quite the soft back needed to sit to the trot as comfortably as I feel I should be, and find myself collapsing the waist/stomach in a attempt to absorb shock - something I know I just need to work on, along with the collection.

The feedback I'm after is more in terms of the collection, am I collecting enough, to much, am I stalling my horse to much a loosing some foward momentum.
One thing to keep in mind is that I'm from New Zealand, where we don't tend to work with trainers to the same extent as america/canada, so I don't get the same level of consistant instruction and given that my dressage is a offseason event I tend to get more lessons in jumping than dressage, I did get a dressage lesson lately and her opinion was if I want to go - go, just don't expect great scores. I'm hopefully being realistic to be scoring in the low 50's at this test.

If you are getting good scores at second level at shows you should already be schooling third level at home. You could try third level test 1 and see what the judge thinks! It is not required to be perfect before you try. It is only important that you try.
Go for it - better to be at the bottom of the next than the top of the old level, or you will never move on!I moved up as soon as i was placed in the top 6 a few times


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