The most exciting addition to the new rules are the levels!

Likely the most exciting addition to the new rules are the levels! There has been concern for years about the large skill jump between levels and lack of lack of logical training progression. The rules committee has made the first attempt at bridging this gap.  Table 5-1 in the rule book gives a great overview of the skills required for the dressage trial at all levels. Referring to table 6-1, will give you the gait requirements for the obstacles in Ease of Handling.

It is important for show managers to understand, they do not have to offer all divisions and levels. They are here to help meet the needs of the riders in your area. All classes are considered open classes unless otherwise specified on the show bill.

Children’s Level – This level is specifically for our kiddos to get an introduction to the sport. It is limited to riders 8 to 13 years of age. Dressage and Ease of Handling are performed at the walk and trot only. The trot may be sitting or rising. Many of the obstacles in Ease of Handling may be walked. There are no speed or cattle trials offered at this level. Two hands may be used on the reins.

Introductory (L1) – Introductory is designed for new riders coming into the sport as well as young/green horses. It is limited to walk trot only in dressage and Ease of Handling. The canter is not allowed at this level. The trot is mandatory between obstacles in Ease of Handling. Many of the obstacles in Ease of Handling may be walked. Rising or sitting trot is allowed. Two hands may be used on the reins. This level may be offered for youth, amateur, open, and young horse divisions.

Novice A (L2) – At this level the horse and rider are introduced to cantering in both the dressage and Ease of Handling trials. In dressage, all canter departs are from the trot. The canter is required between obstacles in the Ease of Handling. All changes of lead are to be through the trot. No flying lead changes or simple lead changes are allowed. Trot is required on most of the obstacles in Ease of Handling. Trot may be rising or sitting. Two hands may be used on the reins. This level may be offered for youth, amateur, open, and young horse divisions.

Novice B (L3) – This level introduces 15-meter canter circles and changes of lead through the trot in the dressage trial. The dressage tests introduce lateral work to the horse and rider. Half turns in the walk are introduced to begin preparing the horse for pirouettes in the upper levels. Cantering is required both between obstacle and on most obstacles. Changes of lead must be through the trot. No flying lead changes or simple lead changes are allowed. Sitting trot is required both in dressage and Ease of Handling. Two hands may be used on the reins. This level may be offered for youth, amateur, open, and young horse divisions.

Intermediate A (L4) – Simple changes are required in both the dressage and Ease of Handling trials at this level. The dressage test introduces collected gaits, as well as, the medium trot and medium canter in preparation for the upper levels. Canter is required between obstacles and on most obstacles in Ease of Handling. No lead changes through the trot or flying changes are allowed. Sitting trot is required. Two hands may be used on the reins. This level may be offered for youth, amateur, and open divisions.

Intermediate B (L5) – Flying changes are introduced for Dressage and Ease of Handling at this level.  No simple changes or changes through the trot are allowed. Walk Pirouettes and Half Passes are required in the dressage test. Sitting trot is required. Two hands may be used on the reins. This level may be offered for youth, amateur, and open divisions.

Advanced (L6) – At this level riders are required to ride one handed. Flying lead changes are required. 10-meter collected canter circles and canter pirouettes are introduced in the dressage test. Sitting trot is required. This level may be offered for youth, amateur, and open divisions.

Masters (L7) – Musical choreography is required for this level. Riders must perform the movements in order, but they may be performed anywhere in the dressage court. Half turns on the haunches at the canter are required in dressage. There is a time limit of 8 minutes for dressage. Sitting trot is required. This level may be offered for open division only.

Please refer to the rule book for specific details regarding levels, divisions, and trials. Rule books may be found at www.weiausa.com or www.usfwe.com

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(Contributed by Tarrin Warren, edited by USFWE/WEIAUSA volunteers, Including Carmen Franco, Jeanne Bond, Jill Glasspool Malone, Rebecca Yount)