To Post or Not to Post

After a month of watching the new USEF dressage tests on DVD and seeing a few live tests in clinics, I’m finally going to see them under show conditions, this weekend in Florida. I’m particularly interested in watching to see how riders handle the new Training Level Test 1 and First Level Test 1. Both those tests seem harder than the old versions, at least on paper, and they may be a particular challenge to riders who are expecting an easier introduction to the levels. The test writers appear to have made each level more distinct and cohesive, and that has necessitated increasing the demands of the levels right from the start — at least that’s the way it appears to me right now. I may change my mind after I see a variety of riders try the tests. First Level seemingly is easier because posting is now optional — it’s generally less taxing to post the trot rather than sit. But even though riders are allowed to post, the movements themselves at First Level Test 1 are both tougher and come up more quickly. Horses will need to be more adjustable and better balanced both in their transitions between gaits and also within gaits, such as when lengthening the trot and canter. Posting has been optional in the past at Training Level, where it’s generally true that the more experienced riders tend to post the trot while some of the riders with lesser experience chose to sit the trot, even though it’s easier to post. Maybe they think that it’s not “real” dressage unless they are sitting. But the overriding consideration is which choice — sitting or posting — most benefits the horse and his overall suppleness. The interesting thing now may be to see how the riders who post at First Level handle the increased need for half halts and for adjusting the horse’s stride. For example, if they are posting in the corner that precedes the trot lengthening across the diagonal, how do they rebalance the horse in preparation for the lengthening’ Or, do they just start to post faster, which likely results in a tight back and quicker tempo but no real change in the power or outline of the horse. Resolution Report: Another pound this week. Met my goal for the week. Yeah!

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