how do competitions work and when can a novice start entering?

20 December 2020
Hi all,

I am a novice rider who has been riding for a little over a year. I have 0 knowledge on how competitions and eventing work so I was wondering if someone could break them down to me. I am in no way ready to start entering stuff but I have shown a keen interest in dressage lately and would love to do local stuff in the near future. Can someone please tell me what the levels are and what kind of stuff a novice can enter? Also any key terms/knowledge would be helpful :)


(initially put this in the tack room but i think here is better!)


Well-Known Member
4 May 2020
There is so much to say on this subject and it's not clear whether you have your own horse or are at a riding school- either way I'm assuming you are having lessons with a trainer? If you only started a year ago and have been riding the same horse which you own or are allowed to take out competing, consult with your trainer. But very basically, you would start in unaffiliated competitions or pony club events depending on your age (joining a local pony club could be great if you are a younger person as they run all sorts of events such as camps and training courses which include gymkhana style competitions). If you are interested in dressage why don't you ask your trainer if you can start integrating Intro A or Intro B tests into your lessons (these tests are the lowest level of dressage test which assess your control at walk and trot)- you can buy and download a copy from the internet and use them in your lessons and see how you get on. It's difficult to know what your ability is after a year- do you have one lesson a week or more? Do you school your horse alone? Is it the same horse each time? Are you having individual lessons or group? How old are you?

Basically most riders start competing at local unaffiliated events- does your yard or RS run any events? I don't want to be discouraging but after only a year, going eventing will almost 100% certainly be overreaching and knock your confidence. Have you started to learn to jump yet? Or are you focusing on flatwork as you want to progress into competing in dressage?

I could list a few terms but I'm not sure how helpful they will be until I know a bit more about what level you are at; I wouldn't know where to start!

A little bit more info about where you are at ability wise and what your situation is- especially whether or not it's your horse or you are at a riding school riding different ponies/horses in group lessons would make it easier to give you advice :) x


Well-Known Member
3 February 2009
A novice can enter whatever they want to enter but that probably is not a good idea!

It might well be worth joining your local riding club and doing some clinics to get an idea of what it is like to be riding away from home in a less stressful environment than a competition. Most clubs will probably also hold shows and it is useful to go along and have a watch the first few times.

Depending on how novice your riding is you could enter an Intro (walk and trot) dressage test although I personally think the Preliminary tests (especially the lower number ones) are easier to ride than the Intro tests although they do include canter.