“I think they are very difficult tests,” says Grand Prix rider, coach and former FEI judge, Roger Fitzhardinge. “A lot of riders do go straight to Inter II, however, the Inter A and B tests are interesting and certainly have very good value for training and schooling.”
So, if you’re using the Medium Tour tests to bridge the gap between Small Tour and Grand Prix, how do you make sure you’re achieving the best possible marks in these tests?
1. Adjustability is crucial.
“At the Inter A and B level, it is really an extension of all the exercises that have been done up until now with huge accent on transitions and adjustability. So, ‘adjustability’ is one of the biggest words needed in these tests,” begins Roger. “The adjustability isn’t only in the footfalls and the steps, but also in the lengthening and shortening of the frame, and in the lateral submission in steps left and right, and that ability to be able to change flexion.
“This is what this test really looks for, this adjustability, and the clarity from one thing to another: piaffe to passage, piaffe to trot, half-pass zigzag canter to extended and then collected, canter to pirouette… it’s all about control and adjustability.”
Roger explains that the Inter A and B are very complicated tests and there are short periods in which to do things. For example, in the Inter A, the last bit sees horse and rider turn down the centreline in collected canter (following the one-tempis, mind you!) then transition to collected trot at D, passage at L, collected trot at I, and halt at G.
“You don’t want to prepare forever; you have got to be really on the ball and make the transitions quickly,” says Roger. Adjustability!
2. Fitness becomes even more important!
Roger explains that both Medium Tour tests are quite long and tiring — in particular the Inter B — and therefore both horse and rider need to be very fit. Despite being a movement shorter than the Inter A, the Inter B goes for approximately another 35 seconds. “The trotwork spans 14 movements (in the Inter B) and it goes forever,” notes Roger.
“It’s like a marathon, the Inter B… you’ve gotta be ready to run in the Melbourne Cup to do this test. When you ride it, you will realise how long it goes for. Be warned, your horse needs to be very, very fit — and so do you!”