Glossary and Explanation of German Riding levels

This is a work in progress, I'll add more as I get more questions and as I write more :)

German Dressage Levels from

E- (preliminary test) Horses and Riders should be able to execute the medium walk, working trot and working canter, large circles and changes of direction across the diagonal of the arena (aka a Training Level test in the USA)

A- (novice test) In addition to what is expected in E, horses and riders should be able to execute the medium trot, medium canter, voltes (a 10m diameter circle), serpentines, leg yielding and a rein back (aka First/Second level in the USA)

L- (elementary test) add collected trot and collected canter, counter canter, walk pirouette, volte in canter, simple change of lead (Second and Third level in the USA)

M- (medium test) add extended walk, extended trot, extended canter, collected walk, shoulder-in, half pass, rein back and flying changes (Third level)

S- (advanced test) add canter pirouettes, tempi changes every 2, 3, 4 strides (Fourth level and Prix St. Georges)

S- (Intermediare/Grand Prix) add piaffe, passage, tempi changes every stride

German Show Jumping Classes from
Level-Height and spread/ max water or ditch spread

E- 0.85m (2'9")/ --
A*- 0.95m (3'1")/ --
A**- 1.05m (3'5")/ 2.5m (8'2")
L- 1.15m (3'9")/ 3m (9'9")
M*- 1.25m (4'1")/ 3.5m (11'5")
M**- 1.35m (4'5")/ 4m (13'1")
S*- 1.40m (4'7")/ 4.10m (13'5")
S**- 1.45m (4'9")/ 4.30m (14'1")
S***- 1.50m (4'11")/ 4.50m (14'8") ~This is the level that Pingu competed at
S****- 1.55m (5'1")/ 4.50m (14'8")

More Horse Terms:

  • aid- natural (legs, hands, seat, weight, etc), or artificial (whip, spurs) anything we use to cue the horse to perform a certain maneuver or gait
  • avoiding the bit- the horse is tossing his head or behind the bit
  • behind the bit- when the horse's chin is resting on the underside of his neck (that is an exaggeration, anytime the horse's head is clearly behind the vertical)
  • bit- the metal (or rubber) piece in the horses mouth us people use to steer, or what happens to you when the horse is A: a jerk, or B: hates you
  • bridle- the equipment holding the bit in the horse's mouth
  • bucking- what horses do at the rodeo
  • collected _____- the horses stride length is shortened while carrying most of its weight on its hind legs
  • counter canter- when the horse's leading leg during the canter is the outside leg, the horse should be bent like it is going in the direction of the leading leg
  • crossrail- a jump in which two poles make an X, the intention is to jump the smallest part, in the middle, used to train riders and horses to steer for the center of the jump
  • extended _____- the horses stride length is lengthened to the max, its frame is lengthened
  • flex- after getting the horse on the bit, the ability to ask the horse to move his head in the direction the aids are asking for, the movement should come from the horse's poll
  • flying change- when the horse switches its leading legs in mid-air during the canter
  • frame- the silhoette of the horse, (does the horse have its nose out or in, and are the horse's hind feet landing in the hoofprints of the front feet)
  • half pass- when the horse is moving sideways and forward and is slightly bent in the direction he's moving, legs are crossing
  • half-seat- when the rider's butt is just grazing the saddle and the shoulders are slightly forward
  • haunches- the back half of the horse
  • inside (rein/leg)- the rein or leg facing the center of the arena
  • lead- in the canter, the leg that strides out fartherest (a horse is said to be on the right or left lead), to be on the correct lead is to have the horse's inside leg be the one striding out the farthest, most easily recognized as the last leg to land in the series of footfalls of a canter
  • leg yield- when the horse moves sideways and forward and is slightly bent away from the direction he's moving, his legs should be crossing
  • lengthened _____- the stride and frame are longer
  • long and low- when the horses nose is still tucked in a little, and it stretches its head and neck towards the ground
  • medium _____- in between a lengthened gait and an extended gait
  • more (in reference to aids)- using increased pressure with any given aid
  • numnah or saddle pad- the pad or cloth that protects the leather of the saddle from the sweaty horse
  • on the bit- when the horse's nose is in and he looks like he's behaving himself
  • outside (rein/leg)- the rein or leg facing the wall
  • oxer- a jump that is not only high, but deep (aka it has a spread)
  • passage- a very slow, very collected trot
  • passive- usually in reference to a leg, for instance a passive outside leg, is when the leg nearest to the wall or fence is moved back, but no pressure is applied.
  • piaffe- when the horse trots in place
  • pirouette- when the horse puts its weight on its haunches and rotates its front end around them
  • poll- the spot on the top of the horse's head where it meets the neck
  • rearing- when the horse lifts its front end up in the air in attempts to get you to fall off of its rear
  • rein- the thingies us people use to connect our hands to the bit
  • rein back- asking the horse to back up while riding
  • saddle- really? do I have to explain this to you?
  • serpentine- a riding figure in which you make a large S across the arena much like half of a figure eight, the number of loops in the serpentine can vary most commonly there are three loops
  • shoulder in- the horses shoulders are slightly closer to the inside of the arena than his haunches and the horse is moving forward
  • simple change- to change the lead in the canter, the horse is brought to a walk for a step or two, then transitions into the canter on the other lead
  • sitting deeper- trying to push your butt through the saddle and directly onto the horse's back
  • skinny- a jump that is very narrow, a test of accuracy of steering and control
  • spook (ing/y)- when a horse is afraid of something a shadow or a big scary monster that only they can see 
  • spread- how 'deep' the jump is, as in, how far across the horse has to jump as opposed to how high
  • tempi changes- frequent flying changes of lead at the canter (looks like the horse is skipping when they are done every stride)
  • vertical- a jump with just a single 'wall' of poles that go straight across the top
  • volte- an 8 or 10 meter diameter circle
  • working _____- the natural stride length for the horse, the horse should still be in a frame