When is the right time to move up a level in dressage competition?

Joanna Fisher
Joanna Fisher

International Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Joanna Fisher shares her thoughts on the right time for moving up the levels in dressage.

This is a good debate, as I see competition as a way to test my training at home and also to give the horse competition experience.

Firstly bringing your horse or pony through lower levels (up to advanced) is purely experience and training. As long as you keep this in mind then the result will always be satisfying!

Starting at Prelim and working your way from level to level is one way of doing it- but this also depends how you work at home.
If you are comfortably working novice at home then be confident to go out and start at Novice…Going into the ring is highlighting the parts you need to work on at home in basic training, so it’s a good indicator of how well you are doing.


Never get upset making mistakes in the ring- these are all learning days and horses are allowed to make mistakes too, just like their riders! Judge each of your tests against your last test, not against others as you are there to improve your riding and horse at the end of the day.

Judges look for different things and their opinion is designed to help you, not train you, so listen to their comments and read their written comments, also if in doubt go and speak with them!
Enjoy your shows and smile when saluting, no one likes a miserable rider especially after finishing a test- that’s an achievement in itself!!
Good luck!


Joanna has written a collection of children’s books based on her horses over the years.

It has been published by award winning Candy Jar books and currently available in Waterstones and being read in schools. Click here to link to her website: www.stablegossip.com. She also has a dressage website which can be found at http://www.joannafisherdressage.com/

For more advice from Joanna, why not visit her other blog posts here:


Do I need a dressage saddle to do dressage



How Can I make my Pony Stop Leaning on me?



Help My Dressage Circles are oval



What Age should I teach my horse flying changes?



How to turn a leg yield into a half pass



How can I teach my horse shoulder in?



How should I prepare for a dressage test?



Should I do Sitting Trot in My Dressage Test?



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