Everyone who registers on the WRDP will receive a copy of the complete syllabus from Levels 1 to 7. They'll also have access to supplementary notes to guide them in their training, and to advice on producing (and submitting) their assessment videos. The intention of the programme is that all candidates move through the Levels in order, commencing at Level 1 and building skills and experience progressively over time. The summary information below provides an indication of the technical content at each Level.
Foundation: Level 1
The fun, and the building of a partnership, begins here with an introduction to the basics of in-hand and ridden work. Candidates are expected to show safe and correct techniques for working a horse from the ground - whether in preparation for a showmanship class or for ridden work. In the saddle, they are also expected to be able to demonstrate the basics of western riding in walk and jog. The Level 1 assessment requires the candidate to demonstrate their level of performance in twelve manoeuvres including:
In-hand - leading at walk and jog; backup; stand-up squarely; flexing the head and neck; moving the hind-quarters; moving the fore-feet.
Ridden - mounting / rider position; walk, jog, stop transitions; turns on the fore-hand; turns on the haunches; freestyle suppling exercise; obstacles (chute and poles); lateral flexion at a stand-still; dismount.
At Level 1 candidates may use 'english' tack, but are expected to remove any nose-bands or martingales. A snaffle or bosal are acceptable.
Novice: Level 2
Candidates are expected to show a basic understanding of western riding and some of the manoeuvres commonly used in training the western horse. They are also expected to be able to maintain a balanced riding position in walk, jog and lope and during lateral work. The Level 2 assessment requires the candidate to demonstrate their level of performance in 12 ridden manoeuvres including:
direct and indirect bend in walk on a circle
direct bend in jog
reverse in jog
walk, jog, stop transitions
turns on the haunches
leg-yelding in walk and jog
left and right lead lope
trail obstacles (360° turn in a box, bridge, side-pass).
At this Level riders are expected to school in a snaffle or bosal, and to use western tack.
Novice: Level 3
Candidates are expected to show an understanding of how to develop the correct western paces and way of going. The Level 3 assessment requires riders to demonstrate their level of performance in 10 ridden manoeuvres including:
lateral and vertical flexion at a halt and in walk
direct and indirect bend circles in jog
framing up in jog
stopping from jog
lope, including simple changes through jog.
At this level riders may have progressed to ride in a curb, but this is not mandatory.
Intermediate: Level 4
Candidates are expected to show correct western horsemanship at walk, jog and lope. It builds on the correct western paces and way of going and also covers, for example:
showing correct western paces and transitions
showing continued understanding of the correct frame in all paces
travers (and renvers) on a straight line on both reins
picking up correct lead at lope from walk
roll-backs out of trot
development of neck reining.
Intermediate: Level 5
At this level the candidate is expected to show correct western horsemanship at walk, jog and lope and a good level of performance in all manoeuvres including extended paces. Building on level 4 it includes, for example:
showing correct western paces and transitions including extended jog
showing that your horse is correctly trained and "willingly guided"
demonstrating the ability to ride at times with the reins in one hand
the use of counter canter as a means of improving lope work
progressive training to perform simple changes through walk
stop directly from lope
advanced turns on the haunches - the beginning of "spins".
Advanced: Level 6
At this level the rider is required to show an advanced level of skill and knowledge in all aspects of western riding and training. It covers, for example:
developing partnership and harmony between horse and rider
training for flying lead changes
roll-backs from lope
demonstration of western patterns and advanced training methods.
Advanced: Level 7
At this, the final level, the candidate is expected to have trained their horse to be soft, supple and responsive; be confident working one handed in a curb in all manoeuvres; and demonstrate a thorough understanding of how to school the western horse for a variety of competitive classes. The candidate will be required to demonstrate, for example:
a schooling session that includes warming up, appropriate exercises and cooling down
correct horsemanship, as evidenced by riding the WES Open Versatile Horse pattern
comprehensive knowledge of western tack and equipment, including proper use and fitting
a track record of performance (not necessarily competitive).