There are three Equestrian Australia (EA) Elementary level tests — Elementary 3A, 3B and 3C. The purpose of this level is to confirm that the horse demonstrates correct basics, and having achieved the thrust required in Novice, now accepts more weight on the hindquarters (collection).
In addition, the horse should move with an uphill tendency, especially in the medium paces, as well as be reliably on the bit. The tests also explain that a greater degree of straightness, bending, suppleness, throughness, balance and self-carriage is required compared to the Novice Level.
We catch up with our resident FEI rider and virtual competition judge, Roger Fizhardinge, to see what other tips he has for riding a great Elementary level test…
1. Show clear transitions within the paces
The Elementary test includes a number of transitions within the paces, for example collected trot, medium trot, collected trot. As Roger explains, there are marks allocated specifically for these transitions so it’s therefore important to make them clear.
“Make clear transitions in and out. The most important thing to see in the trot transitions is a downward transition at the end of the medium, even if it’s modest, so the judge sees the transition — as that’s when they put the mark down, at the end of the movement,” says Roger.
Roger also notes that it is important not to push too hard in that medium trot: “Make certain that you don’t override in the medium trot, because there is still extended trot to show (in future levels)!”
2. Go rising trot for the medium work
The Elementary tests are the first where much of the trot work needs to be ridden sitting — the exception is the medium trot, which can be ridden rising if preferred.
Although it does come down to the individual horse and rider, Roger believes that it often pays off to go rising trot for this movement: “I usually prefer to see medium trot done in rising. It makes it look more balanced; you can go from sitting to rising in the transition to medium, and then back to sitting for the transition to collected. It makes a statement.”
3. Consistency is key in the shoulder-in
The shoulder-in is introduced at Elementary level, and Roger explains the consistency in the angle and rhythm is crucial.
“Make certain that the angle stays on three tracks — if anything a tiny bit more than three tracks — so the judge can see the angle. Make certain that the angle doesn’t vary, and don’t show any change in pace from the beginning of the shoulder-in to the end of the shoulder-in; keep the same rhythm. If it’s a little behind the leg, don’t show this to the judge by chasing it forward halfway through, it must stay consistent.”
Another small detail that Roger points out is how to ride the shoulder-in when it’s followed by half-circle or full circle as per the B and C tests: “At the end of the shoulder-in, if there’s a circle you don’t need to straighten before you go on to the circle.”