The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has released the dressage test for the new Modified level which will make its debut at events around the country in 2017. The test is designed to be a stepping stone between the Training and Preliminary levels. Suited for a small arena (20m x 40m), it echoes many movements performed at Training level, while also introducing a few of the more complex movements required for Preliminary.
Once the modified level was approved by first the USEA Board of Governors and then by the USEF Eventing Technical Committee and specifications were decided for the jumping phases, discussions began regarding an appropriate dressage test. At the suggestion of Cindy DePorter, it was decided that the test from the Training Level Three-Day Event, part of the USEA Classic Series, would be the primary inspiration.
“We needed to have a test for the Modified division, and it didn’t seem that Preliminary was appropriate or that Training was appropriate,” said DePorter. “The Training Three-Day test, developed by Wayne Quarles, was there and it was a good hybrid between Training and Preliminary.” Although performed in the small arena, this test makes a big nod to the Preliminary level with its requirement of sitting trot throughout.
Peter Gray, an upper level event rider who has been an active force in shaping this new division, finds the modified test provides the perfect gateway between these two levels on the flat. “The Modified test is a super test for teaching students the importance of fluency,” he said. “The test is designed to help riders be successful in learning to ride forward.”
The movements of the test marry well to the goal of the level: providing a stepping stone in what has historically been known as the biggest move up of all the national levels. “Having had the advantage of doing lengthen canters on the circle in Training, this Modified test introduces horses to show the medium gait on the long side as it appears in Preliminary,” Gray explained. “In addition, it includes one of my favorite movements in the Preliminary Test B, the leg yield to canter.”
The leg yields in this test will be a first demonstration of lateral work in competition for many riders. Besides being one of Gray’s favorite movements, the leg yield also allows the rider to confirm they have the horse properly in their outside aids. “The leg yield really balances the horse in trot and often results in a fantastic canter transition,” Gray continued. In addition, these movements are scored with a coefficient x 2, reflecting the significance. As seen in the Training level tests, the free and medium walk movements are also scored on this coefficient.
Another movement that will be new to many training level riders is a halt at C, which should be held for five seconds. Here, the judge is looking for complete immobility in the halt before competitors demonstrate a fluid and willing transition back into walk. Polishing this movement will prepare competitors for the halt and reinback demonstrated in Preliminary Test B.
Overall, horse and rider combinations performing this Modified test should demonstrate a more complete understanding of freedom and regularity in movement, acceptance of the bride and correct use of aids. “The horse in this test has to start showing the connection, confirmed straightness and more self-carriage. All the things you want to carry forward into the cross-country and show jumping phases,” DePorter concluded.
The following venues have stepped forward to host a modified division in 2017:
The Fork CIC & Horse Trials | Mill Spring, NC | April 5-9, 2017
Heart of the Carolinas 3-Day Event | Chesterfield, SC | May 3-7, 2017
Queeny Park Horse Trial | Ballwin, MO | June 10-11, 2017
If you are interested in competing at the Modified level, please reach out to your local organizer. Contact information can be found under each event in the USEA Omnibus. Events are eager to host the new level, but there needs to be enough interest to let the division be sustainable, so make sure to reach out and let your local organizers know that you support the new Modified level!