The first week and a half of my time here in Ansbach as been spent training with a group of about 27 girls (give or take) who are here to train and then test for their badge.
In Germany, in order to compete at all, and to compete at certain levels, you have to test for a badge that "certifies" that you are eligible to compete at the level you are at. You are tested on Dressage, Jumping, and Theory.
The organization of this part of the school has the girls living in the dorms (two to a room, four to a bathroom), cleaning stalls 3 times a day every other day (there are two groups of us so we all don't have to get up early everyday), and riding twice a day.
The riding classes are organized into skill groups and the horses being ridden (many of the horses are used by more than one rider). I currently ride in any group that is doing dressage that day, and have private lessons when Gabi can fit them in.
Last week the classes focused mainly on dressage, with a couple jumping lessons, now as we get closer to the test, they work on riding the actual dressage test, and jumping at the height of their jumping test. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the program and the number of girls here to test, there isn't a whole lot of individual attention and this bothers the girls a bit. However, as a part of the program, Gabi and her instructors aren't here to fix major riding problems, only to help the girls with minor issues and help them get used to the horse they will test on.
The most important part of the test, and the reason I cannot test, is the Theory section. The girls are expected to learn everything from Equine Nutrition, to the ventilation of stables, to common Equine diseases and how to treat them, to the steps involved in a leg yield and turn on the forehand. As a way of teaching this to the girls, there are theory classes everyday or everyother day in between riding lessons. The book they use is Principles of Riding from the German National Equestrian Federation (good news guys, you can buy it in English!)
As I've been asked several times by the girls, and am sure that at least a few of you are wondering yourselves, can I test for a badge in English?
That is a tricky question to answer, first, there is the obvious issue of the language barrier. Most older people in Germany do not speak English, or speak only very little, therefore most of the Judges for these tests do not speak English and thus cannot test me. Second, you must be a part of a German Riding Organization (sort of like USDF, USEF, USEA) in order to actually recieve a badge. That is not to say that it will always be impossible for me to earn a badge, I just have to become fluent in German and pay to be a part of an organization that I'll probably never compete under...make sense?
Email me if you have any questions or corrections to this page, this is the way I understand it from how its been explained to me by Gabi and my German friends here.