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9 Ways to make moving up a level easier.

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Moving up a level can seem a daunting process and often the fear of making a mistake or failure can hold us back from stretching that comfort zone and progressing. However I have compiled 9 ways that can make the start of this process a bit smoother. After all its often the getting started that is actually the hardest!

1) Start with your why!

What do you actually want do? Get clear on what you want out of your riding at the moment, if you are wanting to be competitive it will be important to allow a buffer period, which allows you to still compete at the level you are comfortable at until you feel secure at the new level, however if its more about the training for you, you may feel comfortable to go out sooner at the new level providing you have realistic expectations of the score you can achieve for the moment.

What is it about for you? Know what you want so that you can start to plan how you will get there.

2) Is the horse ready?

You may want to consult with your coach/trainer on this but look at what is required at the new level, and what strength or new level of fitness might be required at this level. Ask yourself - Can you make the commitment to the training that may be needed for the next level? Its important to make sure that the horse is as ready as you are to move on to prevent injury or over facing them in training. If you need more time work out a fitness/strength plan of things you may want to start including e.g pole work, in hand work or hill work.

3) When!?

Look at your current level – can you perform the movements easily?

What are your scores like?

Are you scoring Consistency at your current level?

How relaxed is the partnership in the competition environment?

These are all valid questions to help you work out a plan of when you can start training at the new level and then competing at it. You need to be happy at home before you go out at the new level, so you need to be super confident at your current level, even if your scores aren't 70% you can still move up but if you are consistently getting marked down for something it may be worth working on that first.

4) PLAN!

Look at your plan for the year, is there a time that you can take out to just train to remove any pressure, allowing you to make mistakes and learn from them. Making a mistake is an integral part of the learning process so we need to allow for this, which sometimes might be easier if you are not competing. Look at your busy times of the year, and where there might be time you plan for a training break.

5) Set a time frame for training at the new level at home vs competition.

Allow yourself to take small steps to build confidence and strength. Make sure you train through all of the movements at home and then ride through the test comfortably before going out and about. However manage your expectations and know when you start at the level, you are training to learn not to perform. Be flexible in the time frame and allow for it to take longer than you think. Make a plan with your coach so that they can help you gear your training in the right direction.

6) Compete a level lower than you train.

This will allow you time to build your confidence, and establish the quality of the movements required. When you feel ready you can start to string movements together and test Ride at home under pressure e.g with a warm up plan – here you are Training to Compete.

Training at the level above what you are competing at, may also improve the way of going in the lower level tests, allowing you and the horse to find it easier.

7) Know that it is possible to be high scoring at a level, but not ready to move on.

And this is completely normal! Sometimes you might need to develop something in the bigger picture for example sitting trot, or flying changes and although you are scoring well at your current level you or the horse may not be ready to do the movements at the next level. Be aware this is often when others may try to tell you to move on, but make sure it is your decision when you are ready!

8) Change only 1 thing!

When you are ready to go out competing at your new level make sure you do it at a venue you know and use the warm up plan you are comfortable with. This helps take the stress out of the situation and can make it a smoother process. This way you are working within your comfort zone to he best of your ability.

9) Set a goal for each session/outing.

Be realistic about what to expect, set something process focused e.g I will ride in to and out of every corner, or my focus is to maintain rhythm throughout the movements Look at the bigger picture and how today fits. Set a goal that is a step to overall what you would like to achieve in the long run.

If you would like to know more on this subject check out the online course from a previous Mini Master Class all about Moving up a Level!

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