St. George's Dressage Academy
National level dressage competition is governed by the United States Equestrian Federation. USEF creates the five levels of “national” tests: Training Level, First Level, Second Level, Third Level and Fourth Level. International level tests can also be ridden at national level competitions. USDF develops Introductory Level tests and specialized tests for musical freestyle, and sport horse breeding and tests for multiple horses and riders known as quadrille and pas de deux.
Competitors should show the horse has true natural paces, is obedient, calm and relaxed.
The horse should now be able to show some lengthened strides in the trot and canter and perform some 10 or 15 meter circles in the trot or canter.
Level demands the trot (normal and collected), canter (normal and collected), counter-canter, rein-back and 180 degree pirouette.
The movements at this level should be executed without tension. Adding on to the moves from the previous level are the walking 180 degree pirouettes and flying changes.
The horse at this level should be in perfect harmony with the rider. 180 and 360 degree pirouettes in the canter, counter-canter and flying changes at every fourth stride are expected.
The most accomplished horse and rider teams perform FEI tests, written by the international equestrian governing body called the Fédération Équestre Internationale or FEI:
A horse competing at this level must be a minimum of 7 years of age. At this level, it is expected that the horse and rider will have successfully exhibited all the required movements at the lower levels. Prix St. Georges continues pirouette and flying change work. Furthermore, rider's are expected to show distinct differences within the gaits from collection to extention.
Intermediare I level is considered the beginning stage of the advanced standards in dressage. Horse and rider use this level to improve the horse's ability to perform the Prix St. George level movements, as well as prepare mentally and physically for the requirements of the Intermediate II level. The Musical Freestyle is also performed at this level. As with the lower level tests, this level includes walk, trot and canter work, multiple flying lead changes and half pirouettes.
Intermediate II level tests the horse to advanced standard. Horse and rider use this level continues to expand on the skills required at the lower levels in dressage. Most importantly, however, this level is to develop the horse for the advanced skills needed for Grand Prix dressage. As with all other levels in dressage, the Musical Freestyle is also performed at this level.
Grand Prix Level dressage is the highest level of dressage. This level is governed by the FEI and tests the horse and rider to the highest standards. As with the previous levels of dressage, the horse and rider are judged on correct execution of movements, the willingness of the horse and the effectiveness of the rider's aids. This level also consists of 3 standard tests: the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and the Musical Freestyle. The Grand Prix Special is similar to the standard Grand Prix test; however, special attention is paid to the transitions executed throughout the test.