With regards to the horse, determine how long the horse has competed at this level of competition. This will enable you to determine the security that the horse feels at this level of competition or at this level of skill; and if it is time to progress to a higher level of competition.
Should you decide to progress on the current level of the horse, start the year in the current level at competitions. With brief excursions to the next level at Schooling Days, or on weekend trials, or at Schooling Shows. If at all possible, try to start that day at the current level, and progress the horse`s level during the day. This will help to determine if the horse is relaxed and ready to move on or if the horse becomes rattled before or after the higher level of competition. Should you decide to move up, then do so intermittently throughout the year, in order to build the horse`s confidence, but also his ability to perform the skill with alot of success.
With regards to the Rider: is the rider better competing at a level that is challenging to him/her; or, secure in his/her knowledge, but wanting to have to polish the skill at shows; or, requires complete comfort zone in knowledge and skill in order to be happy & relaxed at competitions. Just as with the Horse, let the rider try out a higher level at Schooling Days, (usually not shows) and see if he/she is relaxed and happy or feeling pressured & unhappy.
When you determine the horse`s best level for the year, then ask yourself by understanding how fast the horse comes into physical peak by how much work is required daily, or if by only 3X weekly or only 2X weekly in practise or training.
The Rider needs to ask these questions to determine what level they seek for the year; a)is my horse trained, b)is my horse leased, c)is my horse a trained "packer" at this level, d)is the horse green to the level I want to compete.
Then ask the Rider/Horse availability; interest in working & how much; comraderie in competition; comraderie at barn with other riders; availability to barn daily, weekly; competitions proximatey in distance from barn; support of other friends/family; number of competitions available at each level; is the number of competitions attended or the level of competition the most important factor to the Rider.
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