The Medium Levels
Second, Third, Fourth

Second Level

At second level the team is introduced to new movements that will increase their flexibility and rhythm, such as the shoulder in and renvers. The ability of the horse to push him-self forward with more power and strength from the hind quarters through the medium trot & canter is shown. The ability of the pair to control forward motion is shown through simple lead changes at canter and by completing the rein back. Also part of this level the bringing together or collecting of the trot and canter is improved at the end of this level. The collected trot and canter bring the length of each stride shorter or closer together while maintaining rhythm and the position of the head and neck are higher than in the previous levels. The rider should begin to feel the horse working more “up hill” with better carrying power from the hind quarters.

           Rein Back                             Renvers                                   Medium Trot                                    Canter

Link to USDF Second level Test 4.

Third Level

At third level the horse and rider further the development of what they have mastered on the collected paces of walk, trot and canter. Added at this level are the extended paces of walk, trot and canter. More carrying weight is moved to the haunches as the horse learns to complete the turn on the haunches at walk. The shoulder in work started at second level continues into third level. The added movement called half pass is added at this level and is performed at the trot in short spurts. Third level brings also the introduction of the single flying change of lead at canter.

            Collected Canter                                   Medium Canter                                               Collected Trot

USDF Third Level Test 3.

Fourth Level

At Fourth level further elevation and collection of the trot and canter are continued with more extensive work at collected walk, trot and canter. This helps to continue the strengthening of the horses back, haunches and top line. The half pass is further developed as the horse reaches under himself to move forward yet sideways with rhythm and self carriage for a longer distance than that required in the previous level. Flying changes of lead at the canter of every three & four strides is introduced at this level as is the half pirouette at the canter. The extended gaits are introduced at this level, extended walk, trot and canter. Transitions between the gaits become quicker yet remain controlled and smooth. The smoothness of all transitions are heavily weighted when scoring dressage tests. Between third and fourth levels the option to use the full bridle is introduced though it is not a requirement at these levels. Rider attire requirements of derby and hunt jacket change at fourth level, adding the option of the top hat and shadbelly tailed jacket.

Left: Extended Trot
Middle: Collected Trot Photo By Andrea Roberts
Right: Transition from Collected Walk to the Collected Trot Photo by Kimberley Jacobs

Medium Levels, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, Entry Requirements:

Required Tack:
A Dressage saddle is required. A Snaffle Bridle with cavesson noseband, dropped noseband, flash noseband, or combination of flash and dropped nosebands (can be padded) OR substitute a simple Double Bridle with bridoon and curb with curb chain (optional for 3rd or 4th level only).

Optional Equipment:
White or conservative-color Saddle pads
Breastplate or crupper
Spurs without rowels

Prohibited Equipment:
Pelham bits, martingales, bit guards, boots or bandages, blinkers, or other gadgets are strictly forbidden, under penalty of elimination.

Rider Attire:
The dress code is a short (huntseat) riding coat of dark color with tie, choker or stock tie, white or light-colored breeches or jodhpurs, boots or jodhpur boots, a hunt cap or riding hat with a hard shell. Or a cutaway coat (modified tailcoat) with short tails is permitted. A Shadbelly, tailed coat with Top Hat is permitted for 4th level. Gloves of conservative color are recommended. A whip, no longer than 47.2 inches, may be carried.

Entry Requirements:
A dressage arena (indoor or outdoor) and visible letter.
A description of the test and movement.

The above list of Tack and Attire requirements is merely a simplified version.
FOR COMPLETE RULES, DETAILS AND SPECIFICS please see Dressage Main Page,   Dressage Overview, 
Dressage - the Value of Knowledge,
  the USEF Dressage Rulebook, FEI Rulebook and the USDF Rulebook listed above in the top menu.

Are to be shown ONLY in Dressage All Others, Awards, Horse Entering, Horse Exiting Arena, etc.

Link to Fourth Level Test 3: