LEVEL 1 Theory: Parts of the horse’s body; colours; parts of the saddle; grooming tools; arena figures; natural aids. Stable Management: Put on and remove a halter; correctly handle your horse on the ground; saddle and bridle your horse (with help if necessary); adjust stirrups from the ground; correctly hang up a bridle (figure-eight). Riding: Correctly mount and dismount; adjust stirrups and tighten girth; basic position at walk and posting trot; change diagonal at posting trot; turn down centre line; change of direction on the diagonal; drop and pick up stirrups at walk; halt from walk; identify “near” and “far” side. Other: Dress comfortably in breeches or other seamless pants, hard-soled, heeled boots, and a tucked-in shirt. Half-chaps are permitted. Gloves are recommended. Tie back long hair. Your horse and his tack should be clean. Riders under 18 must wear a helmet. Safety is of the utmost importance at this and all subsequent levels.

LEVEL 2 Theory: Reasons for grooming a horse; parts of the bridle; three basic gaits; face markings; basic foods eaten by a horse. Stable Management: Groom your horse and pick out his feet; do a quick-release knot; saddle and bridle your horse (without help). Riding: Correct position at walk, sitting and posting trot; twopoint position at trot; trot a series of poles on the ground; execute several strides at canter; trot 20-metre circle; simple transitions; sitting trot without stirrups; recognize a square halt; hold whip correctly; identify “inside” and “outside” track.

LEVEL 3 Theory: Flooring; horse blankets; how to feed hay; safety rules; parts of the horse’s feet; basic shoeing. Stable Management: Take apart and put together a snaffle bridle; take care of a horse’s mane and tail; cooling out procedure; causes and symptoms of thrush; put on and remove a blanket; tie up a hay net; clean your tack. Riding on Flat: correct position at walk, trot and canter; drop and regain stirrups at sitting trot; correct use of whip; correct lead at canter; short diagonal; understand “straightness.” Riding Over Fences: two-point position over a ground rail to an X; trot course of four Xs; use crest release. Other: From this level onward, you must ride an individual flat test. However, if you are a dressage or English pleasure rider, you may opt out of the jumping phase for levels 3-8.

LEVEL 4 Theory: Reasons to bandage a horse’s legs; types of bandages; stable measurements (stalls, doors, etc.); bedding; basic feeding rules; artificial aids; leg markings; arena rules. Stable Management: Identify parts of the horse’s body to be trimmed for presentation; measure a horse; identify common snaffle bits. Riding on Flat: halt correctly; independent use of the aids; maintain contact with the horse’s mouth; drop and retake stirrups at posting trot; trot 15-metre circle; canter 20-metre circle; simple change of lead (3-5 trot steps); define “cross-cantering.” Riding Over Fences: trot gymnastic ground pole – X – vertical; count strides between fences; jump single fence at canter; show short, medium and long crest releases. Fences max. 2’0′ (60 cm).

LEVEL 5 Theory: Vital signs; rein aids; phases of the jumping effort; basic knowledge of grain and hay; importance of water in a horse’s diet; types of saddles; recognize a lameness; advantages and disadvantages of shoeing; care of the horse’s teeth. Stable Management: Winter horse care; take a horse’s vital signs; discuss skin problems; pressure points acted on by the bit; lunge a horse at walk and trot (with protective boots or polo bandages). Riding on Flat: correct two-point position at walk, trot and canter; bend on circles; half-turn on the forehand; three-loop serpentine at the trot; non-progressive transitions; drop and retake stirrups at canter; define “tracking up.” Riding Over Fences: trot gymnastic X – vertical – oxer; canter a course of four verticals; define “take off” and “bascule.” Fences max. 2’3′ (70 cm).

LEVEL 6 Theory: Signs of illness; items in the medicine cupboard; types and treatment of wounds; influence of different types of bits; protective leg wear; different types of jumps; importance of warming up; how to make a bran mash. Stable Management: Identify lame leg in a horse; proper fit of tack, including martingale or breastplate; pull a mane; pick out a stall; apply protective boots on a horse’s legs. Riding on Flat: ride forward into contact with impulsion; bend and flexion; discuss and attempt one-quarter turn on the haunches; simple change of lead through walk. Riding Over Fences: build and ride gymnastic X – oxer – vertical; canter a course with oxers. (Your horse’s disobedience will not be penalized as long as you can identify and correct the problem.) Fences max. 2’6′ (80 cm). Other: At this level, your turnout should be what is expected for a competition. Trim and braid your horse. Wear breeches and riding boots, or jodhpurs with paddock boots, a belt and gloves. A riding jacket is recommended, but not mandatory. The Level 6 test (theory, stable management and flat phase) is a prerequisite for the Instructor program and considered equivalent to the Canadian Pony Club’s C2 level.

LEVEL 7 Theory: Causes and symptoms of colic; use of caulks and corrective shoeing; how to calculate distances between trotting poles and between jumps; steps in shoeing a horse. Stable Management: Adjust a snaffle bridle; apply stable bandages; discuss symptoms, causes and treatment of splints and navicular syndrome; lunge a horse with side reins. Riding on Flat: lengthen and shorten stride at trot; three-loop serpentine canter – trot – canter; half-turn on the haunches; critique your warm-up; leg-yield at walk; define “engagement” and “lateral movements.” Riding Over Fences: gymnastic X – oxer – vertical. Build and ride a hunter-type course. Fences max. 2’9′ (88 cm).

LEVEL 8 Theory: Causes and treatment of common ailments (influenza, tying up); basic conformation; common causes of lameness; body clips; the horse’s teeth; conditioning and equine fitness. Stable Management: Estimate a horse’s age by his teeth; apply shipping bandages; demonstrate use of various tack (flash noseband, cavesson, etc.); name and locate sites of lameness. Riding on Flat: trot and canter 10-metre circle; three-loop serpentine at canter with change of lead through walk (3-5 steps); lengthen and shorten stride at canter; maintain correct bend, flexion, impulsion and engagement; define “shoulder-in.” Riding Over Fences: gymnastic X – vertical – bounce to vertical – oxer; automatic release; build and ride a medal-type course including a combination, a line of at least four strides, a roll-back, a trot fence; add a stride in a line. Fences max. 2’9′ (88 cm). Other: Level 8 tests are organized by each province. You may need to transport your horse to the test location, or borrow a horse. In either case, visit the location ahead of time, ride the borrowed horse or ship your horse in early (the day before the test if possible). Pack your own equipment and accessories. Level 8 (theory, stable management, flat and jumping phases) is a pre-requisite for the Coaching program. It is considered equivalent to the Canadian Pony Club’s B or A levels.

Good luck!

For more information about the EC Learn to Ride Programs, contact your provincial equestrian association.