Dressage Test Movements Prelim to Medium Level

British Dressage have a defined a number of dressage tests at each level within the sport. There is a general rule of thumb that you should be competing at one level but training at the level above. This web page lists the movements at each level so that you can quickly and easily see the movements required at the next level up without having to spend time going through all the dressage tests at the next level up.

The levels are split over three pages:

  1. Prelim to Medium – this page … see below !
  2. Medium to PSG – click to go to this page
  3. Small, Medium & Big Tour (PSG and above) – click to go to this page

The diagrams show that by the time you get to medium level the horse should be able to demonstrate collected paces and how this is developed from the working paces required in prelim tests.


There are lots of dressage exercises that we all use when schooling our horses at home and the next two diagrams show at what level they are included in dressage tests.

Prelim and Novice are the first two levels so the dressage tests only include simple movements such as circles, diagonals and transitions.

More advanced dressage movements (such as leg yield and half pass) are included in the Elementary and particularly Medium level dressage tests.

Qualification Checker Advert

  • While exercises such as leg yield are not included in dressage tests until Elementary level that does not mean that you should not include these movements in your training at home. Exercises such as leg yield are good, even for prelim horses, since it develops lateral suppleness and improves your horses balance.
  • If it is appropriate movements are initially introduced such that they start or end anywhere between a couple of markers. As the tests get more complex the movement must start and end precisely at the marker.


British Dressage tests include movements at walk, trot and canter. There are also variations on these paces (medium, collected and extended) that are introduced as the tests get more complex. The diagram shows that by the time you get to medium level the horse must be able to show that the hind quarters are engaged and the horse is able to perform the test with collected paces.

Transitions between Paces

Equine Videographer AdvertTransitions demonstrate that your horse is obedient and in front of your leg. More advanced tests require direct transitions (e.g. from walk to canter) that require a degree of engagement so that the transition comes from behind and is not on the forehand.

  • In lower level tests the transition can be performed between a couple of markers. The transition must be performed at a marker in more advanced tests.
  • Tests include exercises such as Trot-Walk-Trot that require a downward transition and a few strides in the new pace then immediately an upwards transition to resume the original pace.
  • Elementary and Medium tests include direct simple changes which are essentially just a transition canter-walk-canter with a change of canter lead.


A 20m circles is a basic dressage exercise. The diagram shows how this basic exercise is used at Prelim level but the circles gets smaller with figures of 8 introduced at more advanced levels. The figure of 8 obviously includes a change of bend to demonstrate your horses suppleness.

I plan to look at the dressage tests above Medium to show how dressage tests gets increasingly more complex up to Grand Prix level.