A Test / A Test Format

The Outside Riding

During this phase, candidates will ride three or four different horses.
Having been allocated their first horse, they are allowed 5 - 10 minutes assessment, on the flat and over a few small fences.  While doing this, they are expected to appraise the horse - its good and bad points, to be thinking what its job could be, and how it could be schooled to give a better performance and ride.
The discussion usually lasts for about 5 minutes, and the assessors expect to hear practical, common-sense answers, which would give them confidence that the candidate has the knowledge and capability of improving that particular horse or any other that he/she might be given to ride.

Candidates then change horses, and following a short assessment period will be asked to jump a show jumping round.  (This is normally around 1.10m, depending on the horses available and the ground.)  The candidate will then discuss the way the horse jumped and talk about how this horse’s jumping may be improved.
The third horse is jumped around a short cross country course; the candidate will be assessed both over the fences and how they ride between the fences. This round may, or may not, be discussed.

Inside Riding

Candidates will ride two or three schooled horses in the Indoor School.
They will be given the opportunity of assessing these horses before being asked to carry out specific movements.
One horse or more horses will be in a double bridle.
Candidates will be asked to prepare for and show movements, whilst knowing the aids to carry them out.
Depending on the standard of the horse, candidates may be asked to: Ride in Medium Walk, Working and Medium Trot and Canter, and show some collection. Show transitions and halts.

They will be required to ride some school movements such as:

  • Circles, loops and serpentines of specific size.
  • Changes of rein.
  • Change of leg through trot and walk.
  • Counter canter loops.
  • Direct transitions.
  • Turn on the forehand.
  • Leg yielding.
  • Travers.
  • Shoulder in.
  • Half Pirouette at walk.
  • Rein back.

Candidates will be expected to demonstrate knowledge of rules of the school.
The assessors will ask the candidates to comment on the way the horses are going and performing the required movements and how the horse may be improved.


  • Candidates will lunge for about twenty minutes.
  • They are expected to know how to lunge for improvement, training and education (poles will be available).
  • Candidates will assess the horse and then lunge for improvement.
  • Followed by a discussion with one assessor of how that horse worked, and what exercises were used or may be used in the future to improve its way of going.
  • The assessor will look to see that the horse improved whilst being lunged.

Training The Young Horse

This is a separate section.

This phase takes the form of a discussion with the candidate’s views on backing and preliminary training of a young horse, using the equipment and methods recommended by The Pony Club and explained in ‘Backing Breeding and Bringing on Young Horses’.

The Debrief

This is the last session of the day, where the candidate is given their result.  Each person is debriefed individually, with the opportunity to talk to every assessor.  If a candidate has not been successful this is the occasion to receive constructive ideas towards improving their level of horsemanship.

Through disappointment, it is easy to absorb only part of the conversation, and then at a later day feel they have failed due to some minor point.  This is never the case, so the following points may assist the candidate to understand the reason for the lack of success:

  • Attend the debrief with a parent, trainer, D.C. or friend.
  • Take notes.
  • Ask questions if you are unclear on any topic.
  • Look at the big picture, possibly the seat was not established, which will affect every horse, rather than, ‘I rode the double badly’.
  • Regard the debrief as an opportunity for a clear assessment on where to improve your riding.
  • Remember, some top riders failed the A Test the first time, so it is not the end of a promising career.


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