Showing tips (Intro)

That is what it usually means around here. Some like to do the same test twice, to see if they improve on their first ride.


SInce this will be your first test as a team… as others have said, be aware of what is going on. know your test. Plus this may be the least expensive lesson you ever take. It is the baseline for your future shows. Try and notice how you and your horse act before the show, in the warm up going around the ring , entering and then actually performing and even how you both feel/act after the class (or two). There is more to this then the 5-6 minutes in the arena. The rest of day can make or break your experience. With a young horse there is nothing that says you MUST complete whatever you sign up for. Besides getting rung out if you feel a melt down coming on YOU may ask to be excused. Even at a recognized show I have been scribing and watched a melt down. The judge rang the bell and told the rider to make another circle at trot before she left to be sure the horse was calm so it learned it had to calm down and couldn’t just leave when it wanted. Most of all enjoy…and report back.


I memorized the test and ran through it Friday with trainer reading and this morning with no reader. We had a bonus of people sitting in the bleachers on one end (he hasn’t seen that before) which helps to recreate a little bit the environment.

His confidence during this is absolutely priority. All this info really helps!! If I feel prepared then I can better be there to help support him.


I like to make a Cliffs Notes version of my tests that will fit in my breeches or jacket pocket. It makes me feel better if I can confirm the movements right before I go in. I laminate mine, but something like a business card holder, or printing it on cardstock should work to keep it from turning into a crumpled wad.

Have fun!


You can also purchase Whinny Widgets which are pocket sized laminated test booklets for each level. Cost about $6.


Usually yes. Especially at a schooling show. Often times at rated shows it will be denoted as “FEI Test of Choice (tests not otherwise offered).” That means you can’t re-ride a test that has its own class on that day.

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Keep in mind that if you ride the same test twice, you will probably only be “pinned“ for the first test - and the second one will be considered HC.

I don’t think this is true if they are separate classes. So she enters Class 1 - Intro Test A and Class 4 - Intro/Training Test of Choice. Those would be 2 separate classes with possibly different competitors and pinned separately.

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Yes, makes sense :ok_hand:

I showed my 4 year old this year at Intro and Training at 2 schooling shows. I set a few goals for what I wanted to accomplish. Since I’ve ridden up the levels and wasn’t trying to earn scores or qualify for anything, my goals were all behavior-based.

  • I wanted to practice going to the warm up and at least trotting around in the warmup with other horses.
  • I wanted to be successful going from the warmup ring to the show ring and being able to get around the show ring ok.
  • I wanted to practice getting on for a second warmup and if that went well, a second test.

My horse has been known to leave our unfenced outdoor with a rouge shoulder instead of turning/circling and he’s also not very forward or motivated to work, so the above goals were all good tests of his willingness to push through new experiences and stressors. I kept the actual work well within his physical and mental limits by selecting easier tests and lowering the quality I’d normally ask for.

I did have to remind myself a few times, especially the week before the show, that the tests themselves don’t really matter at 4 years old. What matters is the experience and making my horse feel safe and successful no matter how much he can mentally accomplish on the actual show day.


The day is here! I just reread these tips. Fingers crossed we get around alright! I’ll update with how it went :slight_smile:


Good luck! Have fun!!


It was SUCH a success. Besides me forgetting one circle in the first test. Oops. Second test I begged for a reader. That helped.

But my baby horse went into the warm up, no issues. Then the show arena and didn’t blink hardly an eye. I just told him, it was okay and he trusted and did his job.

Really we both felt relaxed which was a big win to me! We got lots of 7’s and a few 6’s. I think the judge was over generous. But I will say besides the missed circle, my geometry was great!

I appreciate all the tips!! I look forward to doing this more.


Good job, for you and your baby horse this sounds like a super day. Now you have written ideas to improve for your next show from the place it actually matters, the eyes of a judge. If you got ribbons, write date, test, score, venue, horse… because after a few years they might become a blur. Congratulations.

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Yay! Such great news!

I haven’t posted yet but would like to add some thoughts.

I used to put the letters on index cards and put them in order in my living room. They I walked the test multiple times, thinking of how I’d prepare my horse for the next movement or transition as I approached the letters. Thinking of exactly how I’d prepare for the next movement or transition really helped me memorize the different tests.

Also, I almost always had a reader even up the levels. Even if I knew the test inside and out, just hearing a friend’s voice during my test was nice. I also read for my friends and happily read for people I didn’t know when they asked me to read for them! Sometimes, a rider gets so caught up in the moment of the ride that they can forget what is next in the moment. That said, I once went off course TWICE even with a reader!!! X halt salute. A, turn right (I went left twice in a row! Hahahaha!)


I totally had it memorized and had been running through it for weeks without a reader. And I was also saying it out loud when I was driving, doing laundry, whatever. I honestly think that I almost was just elated and how I was going and just really thinking about my trot to walk transition and forgot the circle, ha ha. Oh well. It was a really good test and I still got a good score. But having a reader for the second test really made it flow even better I think. So at least for now I will definitely try to get a reader.

I had asked a few people before but the people I asked either couldn’t do it or weren’t confident in doing it. Then my lovely barn owner stepped up to do it for the second test. I did wonder if I would just end up tuning her out or something but I didn’t, lol!

My trainer said next time I have to move up to training test one. Lol I say have to as of course if I really objected she would not force me but she thinks we are more than ready. When we first hauled property maybe I will drop back down to intro but we will see. He handled things so well today.


I came with the show coat and everything but everybody was pretty casually dressed so I just went with what I was wearing to groom. But such a good boy.

(I see so much I need and am working on as a rider, but I’m letting myself be proud of such a accurate and relaxed test with a 4-year-old.)


With those scores, I’d also tell you to prepare for Training level. You won’t need to drop to Intro because you can really manage transitions to and from canter, which makes you ready for Training. WORK towards schooling at T4 that can help you show at T1. Intro 3 isn’t very different from T1, there’s just more sutff in the test. You’ve got that. You’ll eventually make your way up the levels.


Absolutely there is real no reason to stay at Intro. Besides I think he’s get bored! I mean of course we do other cross training too but still he already has the walk trot circles down. Besides he loves to canter and has a pretty good one so we need to show it off!

Still working on our walk work though. Hid go to is meandering instead of marching. I’m hoping getting out of the arena more will help that.

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Way back when as a 16yo prepping for my first ever dressage schooling show, I set up cones/letters in the backyard & spent hours “walk/trot/cantering” the tests. To the eternal amusement of the neighbors, I’m sure. :joy: . It worked, though!

Something I learned as a music major in college & that I teach to my own students is how to restart from various places within a large piece in the event of interruption or memory glitch. Weird as it sounds, our brains & bodies don’t work like that unless we practice it into muscle memory. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who has to run thru the ABC song to alphabetize starting from W, for example :grimacing:) The most nail-biting, terrifying performance mishap I was ever in the audience for was a beloved piano professor getting lost on the middle of a 20 minute concerto & it taking a few false restarts for her to get going again. No one wants to get lost 10 minutes into the Allegro Scherzando from Rachmaninoff’s 2nd & be unable to restart without going back to the beginning :scream::scream::scream: . Of course in most equestrian sports going off course immediately disqualifies you. However, I believe the same technique could be useful for recovering & staying on track after a spook, etc.

Eta: He’s so purty, @Lunabear1988!!