Preparation for a national rating

bpcheader 

  • Start preparing for an upper level rating now. Read the appropriate Standards of Proficiency and Test Sheet for your rating on the United States Pony Club website at, National Level Testing Be certain that you are reading the correct Standard! 
  • Have a clear understanding of the requirements your test. Review the Standard and Test Sheet once a week to make sure you are on track. You should know the Standard by heart by the time the rating takes place. HB and H-HM / H / HA candidates, please visit the MidCal website Study Aids page for great study resources: Upper Level Study Aids
  • Make a study/preparation timeline – start with the date of the rating and work backwards. Identify the subjects you will need to study and/or the skills you will need to practice and set up a schedule that will allow you to accomplish this in the time available between now and the rating date. 
  • Preps clinics with qualified USPC National Examiners will be offered for the HB, C3, B, H-HM / H / HA and A. Candidates are expected to attend at least one prep clinic and strongly encouraged to attend as many clinics as the region hosts. The function of the prep clinic is to provide candidates feedback on their strengths and weaknesses as they compare to the Standard. 
  • HB and H-HM / H / HA candidates: Spend time teaching. The HB candidate is required to teach an unmounted lesson at the test; the H-HM / H / HA candidates teach a mounted lesson. Each year we have candidates that Do Not Meet Standard for teaching at the test – don’t let it be you! Take the time to learn to teach and spend time teaching at your local club, outside of your own club, helping with ratings, and helping at local rallies. 
  • HB and H-HM / H / HA candidates: Seek knowledge beyond books. Talk to your vet, farrier, dentist and others when they visit. Read articles in magazines and on the internet. Every day familiarity with subject material lowers the probability that nerves or a bad day will influence the outcome of the test. 
  • Develop your verbal skills and work on these constantly. Know how to express yourself and describe knowledge orally. Use different approaches to each subject, different ways of explaining things. This applies to both mounted and unmounted ratings. On the Standards and Test Sheets you will see the “Big D Word” used again and again – “DISCUSS”! 
  • Develop your listening skills and work on these constantly. You need to be able to listen carefully to what clinicians and examiners are asking for and hear what they are saying, make sure you aren’t listening selectively and only hearing what you want to hear, for example: Prep clinician to prospective candidate: “If you ride without stirrups for 30 minutes three times a week for three months you will develop a better seat and then have a good chance of passing your rating” Candidate to mother at home later: “I have a good chance of passing my rating!” 
  • Bandaging is required at the C3, B and H-HM / H / HA tests. Understand what the Standard requires of you at your test. Be very comfortable with your bandaging materials -- don’t bring brand new bandages to the test. One word of advice: PRACTICE. 
  • Longeing is required at the C3, B and H-HM / H / HA tests. Understand what the Standard requires of you at your test. H-HM / H / HA candidates should practice longeing unfamiliar horses. One word of advice: PRACTICE! 
  • Turnout – C3 candidates should practice their turnout. H-HM / H / HA candidates should practice different types of braids (e.g. Dressage, Hunter, French, etc.) and trimming. 
  • Make sure you understand the concept of the Basic Balanced Position (BBP) which is the foundation of riding in Pony Club. Read the handout by Allyson Thurston posted on the MidCal web site at Study Guide Basic Balanced Position
  • Be aware that you may be asked to change an aspect of your riding during a rating. If the examiner is asking, for example, for a more forward seat during a gallop, you must be able to successfully demonstrate the requested change in position in order to Meet Standard. This may be difficult for the candidate used to riding with only one instructor. Take advantage of the many mounted clinic opportunities that the region makes available to its members. 
  • Many candidates have misunderstood the importance of the flat warm-up. This is the first part of every mounted rating and gives the examiners their initial impression of you as a rider. We recommend that you establish a flat warm-up routine and practice discussing your warm up and ride with a variety of instructors. Read over “Riding on the Flat” in the Standards and have a clear understanding of all aspects of this section. If you are attending one of the prep clinics, come with your routine already established. The list below are some suggestions taken from a recent rating prep (and is not all inclusive):
    • Need an overall statement of goals for warming up 
    • Need to verbalize what your specific goals are for your horse 
    • Demonstrate and discuss the activity you did to support your goal and how you did it. You need to critique your ride 
    • Need to demonstrate: o relaxation o free forward movement o suppleness o longitudinal stretching, shortening, lengthening. Transitions from gait to gait. Half halts, collection o bending – shortens one side of body, lengthens other. Circles, serpentines, 1/2 circles 
  • Many candidates have not had adequate practice in critiquing their riding. Upper level candidates must be able to verbalize both their plan and their ride using the appropriate terms. This takes practice. Make sure that your instructor(s) are having you discuss your riding on a consistent basis. 
  • For the upper level ratings, it is very important that you understand the theory behind your riding. We strongly suggest that you read the recommended reading found on the last page of each Standard. Understanding the theory behind riding may not be a normal part of mounted instruction. If you are taking a Specialty rating, for example, you may want to schedule “unmounted” lessons with a trainer from that discipline. An example would be to schedule time with a Hunter-Jumper trainer to understand the theory behind course design and distances. 
  • Being successful in competitions does not always equate to success in a rating situation. At the upper level ratings, not only must you “ride” but you must also “understand”, “critique”, “troubleshoot” and “articulate”. Although we encourage you to compete in your riding discipline, this should only be one component of your preparation. 
  • Get together with your fellow candidates for study groups, bandaging practice, riding critique and switch horse rides. 
  • Find a mentor in your club or a nearby club, someone who has passed the rating and can tell you what it was like, give you advice on how to prepare, etc. 
  • Remember the 4 Cs – Commitment, Consistency, Competency and Confidence. Are you committed to taking and passing the rating? Are you consistent, competent and confident at the level of the test? 
  • Finally, make sure that you present yourself and your mount in the best possible light at the rating – act like a professional, know how long everything takes so that you are not flustered. Practice making your horse stand still.