By the time the horse and rider team reach the Intermediate Levels,
the basics of Dressage should be firmly established and the pair should be working
together on a very cooperative basis. The horse should be relaxed and willing to
proceed with the new demands being made on him as he moves up in his training.
For an explanation of terms used, please see Glossary page.
Following is a summation of the Intermediate Levels of Dressage:
Second Level (4 tests)--As stated by the AHSA: "The purpose of the Second
Level Tests is to confirm that the horse, having demonstrated that it has achieved the
thrust (pushing power) required in First Level, now shows that through additional training
it accepts more weight on the hind quarters (collection), shows the thrust required at
medium paces and is reliably on the bit. A greater degree of straightness, bending,
suppleness, throughness, and self-carriage is required than at First Level."
Transitions between medium and collected gaits become important at Second Level.
Shoulder in, Travers (haunches in), rein-back, and counter-canter are all added to
the tests, as well as simple lead changes in canter.
Third Level (3 tests)--As stated by the AHSA: "The purpose of the Third
Level Tests is to confirm that the horse has achieved the requirements of the Second
Level. It now demonstrates in each movement, especially in medium and extended paces
and in the transitions to and from collected movements, rhythm, suppleness, acceptance of
the bit, throughness, impulsion, straightness, and collection. There must be a clear
distinction between the paces." Half pass and flying lead change at the
canter are added at Third Level.
Fourth Level (3 tests)--As stated by the AHSA: "The purpose of the
Fourth Level Tests is to confirm that the horse has achieved the requirements of the Third
Level. These are tests of medium difficulty designed to confirm that the horse has
acquired a high degree of suppleness, impulsion, throughness, balance, and lightness while
always remaining reliably on the bit, and that its movements are straight, energetic, and
cadenced with the transitions precise and smooth." Half pirouette at the
walk and quarter pirouette at the canter are introduced. Multiple flying lead
changes every few strides are added in Test 3.
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