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Riding Levels


Playland Equestrian Center’s level descriptions allow us to accurately describe the
contents of individual lesson times, as well as help new riders, identify their abilities.
Please identify your dressage/flatwork skills separately against your jumping skills, as
you may be in different levels per type.

Dressage / Flatwork

  • Intro to Riding: Riding on lunge-line at the walk and rising trot. Learning how to steer independently at the walk. Intro to rising trot off lunge line and learning steering at the trot.  Walk/ trot transitions trot/ walk transitions.  Maintaining the rhythm of the rising trot.

  • Beginner: Walk/trot off of lunge line. Sitting trot. More precise steering. Get horses to walk/trot on their own while maintaining steering. Learning to ride schooling figures. Canter on the lunge line. Could accurately ride an Intro Level dressage test.

  • Elementary: Walk/trot/canter off lunge line. Learning about connection, contact, and sharper transitions. Riding precise schooling figures. Can independently groom and tack up. Could accurately ride a Training Level dressage test.

  • Intermediate: Walk/trot/canter with a balanced seat and steady connection/contact. Learning lateral work: leg yield, shoulder-in, and basic counter-canter. Schooling lengthening and intro to collected gates. Could accurately ride a First Level dressage test.

  • Upper-Intermediate: Ride all gaits with the horse round. Understanding and application of straightness, bending, suppleness, and start of self-carriage. Ability to ride accurate lateral work: leg yield, shoulder-in, and learning walk pirouettes and travers/renvers. Schooling more complicated counter-canter work and walk-to-canters. Development of collected gates. Could accurately ride a Second Level dressage test. 

  • Advanced: Transition between collected, medium, and extended gaits while keeping the horse engaged and balanced. Proficient with basic lateral work, schooling half-pass, and single flying changes. Could accurately ride a Third Level dressage test.

  • Proficient: Ability to accurately ride Fourth Level and above.


Jumping levels begin with a participant who is, at minimum, a beginner level in dressage/flatwork, to ensure the safety of both horse and rider.


  • Intro to Jumping: Demonstrate and hold correct two-point position while halted, walking, and trotting for short distances. Accurately ride to the center of ground poles while maintaining body position and gait. Could ride a short course of poles and small cross rails at a trot.

  • Beginner: Hold the correct two-point position while cantering. Beginning to canter poles, cross-rails, and cavalettis, and developing an understanding of canter rhythm that creates correct distances. Ability to ride through basic gymnastic exercises. Could ride a course of 2ft fences at a mix of trot and canter. Intro to open terrain and small XC fences.

  • Elementary: Well-established, correct jumping position. Development of feel for correct canter balance that creates adjustability for balanced distances. Starting to have an accurate “eye” for distances.  Beginning to ride more advanced gridwork/combinations including two/one strides and oxers, and learning to jump solid cross-country fences. Could ride a course of 2’3 fences at the canter.

  • Intermediate: Consistent eye for distances: even if it is not the “correct” distance, the rider is able to accurately determine where the horse is taking off and not be left behind/jump ahead. Starting to be able to subconsciously recognize when to move up/collect horse for the proper distance. Ability to ride small courses and gymnastics with no stirrups, one hand, or no hands, and maintain proper balance. Jumps XC fences and gallops with a secure, safe position. Could ride a course of 2’9 fences with combinations.

  • Advanced: Strong ability and instinct for distances, consistently able to recognize a correct distance and adjust the horse to it, while also being a strong enough rider to get out of “sticky” situations through more challenging combinations. Adapts position to the type of jump and horse’s jumping style. Works through difficult questions out cross-country and has a solid understanding of pace. Could ride challenging courses of 3’3.

  • Proficient: Could ride challenging courses of 3’6 and above.

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