Over the last couple weeks, I’ve observed that riders are finding some of the new tests harder than they anticipated, especially as I see more test rides in clinics and with my own students, not just at shows. The difference has been precipitated by the change from four tests down to three at Training, First and Second Levels, with each level more cohesive and less of a gradual transition when moving up. Even though the new tests are labeled 1 through 3 as usual, it’s as if the first test of the old levels was dropped.? If you’re comparing them to last year, think of the new tests as starting at Training 2, First 2 and Second 2. I have one student preparing to show for the first time next month, but sHe’s going to enter Training 2 and 3 and skip Training 1, at least for the time being.? The tough question in Training 1 isn?t just the inclusion of the stretching circle at A but that a transition to working walk comes right after the return to regular rein contact at A, followed immediately by the turn onto the diagonal for the free walk.? The trick is to pick the reins back up while still in the last quarter of the stretching circle rather than waiting until A, or it might be hard to get the working walk to settle before starting the free walk.? While the patterns at Training 3 are a little more challenging, the test itself seems to flow more easily for a less-experienced rider. THere’s a similar challenging moment in First One.? Riders are now required to do canter lengthenings in that test.? The transition back to working canter can be gradual, from R to C for the second one, but then there is a transition to trot at C, followed immediately by a turn onto the diagonal and a trot lengthening.? it’s really too late to use the corner to bring the horse back from the canter lengthening if you want to get a balanced transition to trot and also then to the trot lengthening. ???You pretty much need to return to working canter right at R or you’ll have a tough time with the two transitions that follow.? After the first canter lengthening, the rider goes all the way around the end of the ring and onto the diagonal, where the transition to trot is at X, which is much easier.? The test itself seems easier than before because posting is now optional at First Level, but the new patterns will require better attention to half halts. The most interesting new question at First Level seems to be in First 3, where a change of bend to the left is required immediately after trotting to the right through the corner at K, followed immediately by a leg yield to X, then a 10-meter figure 8 and a leg yield back to the long side at H.? If the rider doesn’t get that change of bend and half halt on the right rein at K, the movements that follow could become a muddle. Resolution Report:? Another pound this week, overall 11 pounds since I started in January. It was really satisfying to see the scale put down a different number in the middle, almost as if I’d lost 10 pounds this week rather than just one.? Starting to feel the difference in my clothes.? A nasty cold is keeping me from the gym, but I’m still riding, of course.