Middle California Region National Testing Quick Reference

Who’s Who? - National and regional staff

USPC Staff: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

National Testing Chair: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MidCal Region:
Regional Supervisor  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Vice Regional Supervisor (National Testing Coordinator) This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Vice Regional Supervisor This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Vice Regional Supervisor This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Regional Instruction Coordinator This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Regional Instruction Coordinator This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Introduction to National Tests – how are these ratings different from club ratings?

  • National Tests are the HB, H-HM, C3, H, B, HA and A ratings. 
  • The National Tests are hosted by regions but organized by the USPC national office. A USPC Candidate Application must be submitted to the USPC national office by the appropriate deadline. The national office provides appropriately qualified National Examiners to each test and may add candidates from other regions to fill the tests.
  • Riding and most of the Horse Management skills are tested at separate ratings. The exception is that turnout is included at the C3 level, and bandaging and longeing are included at the C3 and B levels, as you need demonstrate these skills with your own horse. You are not expected to bandage or longe an unfamiliar horse until the H-HM / H / HA level. Switch horse rides are included in all mounted ratings at the national testing level.
  • Three mounted disciplines are offered at the national rating level – riders can choose to focus on the Traditional, Dressage or Show Jumping Specialties.
  • National tests can be very expensive. A National Testing Fee of $160 - $260 (depending on the test) is collected at the time of application; a Regional Fee of $175, to pay for the examiners’ in-state expenses and facility fees, is collected by the test organizer on the test date. Candidates should expect other expenses, such as preps, stabling & shavings, lodging, meals and transportation.
  • The upper level tests are a time commitment in terms of preparation, study time and the actual rating weekend. These tests take advance planning on the part of the candidate. Preparation for any national test should begin early in the year, not 4 weeks prior to the test.
  • Priorities should be set and choices made regarding goals. Be realistic with your planning. It is difficult to achieve a national rating and attend Championships in the same year, especially if both require taking a horse.

Important facts about the levels

HB Level:
  • The HB is a Horse Management Rating at the combined C3 / B level
  • The HB is taken after the C2 and before or after the C3
  • Age requirement: 13 years of age prior to 1/1/13 
C3 Level: Available in Traditional, Dressage or Show Jumping
  • Taken after the C2 and before or after the HB
  • If taken before the HB, it is called the C+. After passing both the HB and the C3, the member becomes a C3
  • Age requirement: 13 years of age prior to 1/1/13
  • Dressage Standard = First Level
  • Show Jumping Standard = Level II - III (3’6”)
  • Eventing Standard = 3’3” Novice / Training Level 
H-HM / H / HA Level: The H-HM / H / HA is the Horse Management rating at the A level
  • Age requirement: 16 years of age prior to 1/1/13
  • The H-HM / H and the HA are the same test. It is called the H if taken before the B and the HA after the B. When an H rated member passes the B they automatically become an HA.
  • PLEASE NOTE: The recently approved H-HM is the Horse Management rating at the A level. An HB rated member can now move directly to the H / HA level test without taking the C3 test. The H-HM, the H and the HA are all the same test. An H-HM will become an H after passing the C3 and an HA after passing the B. 
B Level: Available in Traditional, Dressage or Show Jumping
  • Age requirement: 14 years of age prior to 1/1/13
  • Dressage Standard = Second Level
  • Show Jumping Standard = Level III - IV (3’9”)
  • Eventing Standard = 3’7” Training / Preliminary Level
A level: USPC’s highest level. Available in Traditional, Dressage or Show Jumping
  • Age requirement: 16 years of age prior to 1/1/13
  • Dressage Standard = Third Level
  • Show Jumping Standard = Level V - VI (4’3”)
  • Eventing Standard = 3’9” Preliminary / Intermediate Level

**You may rate across or down levels and disciplines, but not up to a different discipline. You can take achieve any rating level in all three disciplines!

The USPC Candidate Application: how and when to fill it out

  • All applications are to be submitted online. 
  • Online applications and payment must be submitted and processed by the National Office by the application deadline.  All application deadlines are 8 weeks out prior to the test you are applying for.(Exception: Tests held prior to March 1, have a January 3 deadline.) If you are applying after the deadline, candidate must receive approval from the National Testing Chair in addition to a $100.00 late fee. (Note: if space in test allows)
  • Review the Test dates and venues are online at Upper Level test Schedule
  • H-HM / H / HA candidates MUST have a current First Aid (not CPR) card by the time of the application. Proof of enrollment in a course is not acceptable; you must have completed the course by the application deadline and include a copy of the First Aid card. It is a mandatory part of the Candidate Application.

Specialty Ratings (Dressage and Show Jumping)

The Dressage and Show Jumping Specialty Ratings are offered at the C3, B and A levels. The Dressage and Specialty ratings are much more than just the flat work or jumping sections of the traditional rating. There are separate Standards and Test Sheets for the Specialty Ratings and successful candidates in these specialty disciplines are considered specialists in the discipline.

Standards and Test Sheets for the national ratings

The latest version of the USPC Standards and Test Sheets are on line at https://ponyclub.site-ym.com/?page=NationalLevelTesting . Be sure to thoroughly read the current and appropriate Standard and Test Sheet multiple times so that you will know what is expected. Discard any Standards and Test Sheets dated prior to January 2012.

Prerequisites for taking ratings

  • Age requirements as previously noted in section 3.
  • HB – must have attended a mounted rally as a rider or a Stable Manager.
  • C3 – must have attended a mounted rally as a rider or Stable Manager. 
  • H-HM / H / HA – must have medical first aid card (not CPR). 
  • The USPC National Office will verify your membership and rating. 
  • To be eligible for a national test in 2013, you must be a paid member for 2013 and have been a paid member in 2012.

Taking multiple ratings in one year

Taking multiple ratings in one year is allowed and can be done, but don’t over commit. It is possible, but not recommended, that candidates take the C3 and B or HB and C3 in the same weekend.

Costs involved with taking a national rating

The national testing fee is paid to USPC when you submit your Candidate Application. This fee covers the Examiners’ airfare and the small stipend that they are paid by USPC. The 2013 USPC National Testing Fees are as follows:



B Show Jumping


C3 Traditional


H-HM / H / HA


C3 Dressage


A Traditional


C3 Show Jumping


A Dressage


B Traditional


A Show Jumping


B Dressage


Depending on the test, candidates should also expect to pay additional fees, such as a regional fee (up to $175 – pays for Examiners’ in state expenses), facility membership fees, and stabling and bedding fees. Please bring a check made to Middle California for this amount to the test. Do not send this check with your application. 

Preparation for a national rating

  • Start preparing for an upper level rating now. Read the appropriate Standards of Proficiency and Test Sheet for your rating on the United States Pony Club website at https://ponyclub.site-ym.com/?page=NationalLevelTesting. Be certain that you are reading the correct Standard! 
  • Have a clear understanding of the requirements your test. Review the Standard and Test Sheet once a week to make sure you are on track. You should know the Standard by heart by the time the rating takes place. HB and H-HM / H / HA candidates, please visit the MidCal website Study Aids page for great study resources: http://midcal.ponyclub.org/study_aids.htm 
  • Make a study/preparation timeline – start with the date of the rating and work backwards. Identify the subjects you will need to study and/or the skills you will need to practice and set up a schedule that will allow you to accomplish this in the time available between now and the rating date. 
  • Preps clinics with qualified USPC National Examiners will be offered for the HB, C3, B, H-HM / H / HA and A. Candidates are expected to attend at least one prep clinic and strongly encouraged to attend as many clinics as the region hosts. The function of the prep clinic is to provide candidates feedback on their strengths and weaknesses as they compare to the Standard. 
  • HB and H-HM / H / HA candidates: Spend time teaching. The HB candidate is required to teach an unmounted lesson at the test; the H-HM / H / HA candidates teach a mounted lesson. Each year we have candidates that Do Not Meet Standard for teaching at the test – don’t let it be you! Take the time to learn to teach and spend time teaching at your local club, outside of your own club, helping with ratings, and helping at local rallies. 
  • HB and H-HM / H / HA candidates: Seek knowledge beyond books. Talk to your vet, farrier, dentist and others when they visit. Read articles in magazines and on the internet. Every day familiarity with subject material lowers the probability that nerves or a bad day will influence the outcome of the test. 
  • Develop your verbal skills and work on these constantly. Know how to express yourself and describe knowledge orally. Use different approaches to each subject, different ways of explaining things. This applies to both mounted and unmounted ratings. On the Standards and Test Sheets you will see the “Big D Word” used again and again – “DISCUSS”! 
  • Develop your listening skills and work on these constantly. You need to be able to listen carefully to what clinicians and examiners are asking for and hear what they are saying, make sure you aren’t listening selectively and only hearing what you want to hear, for example: Prep clinician to prospective candidate: “If you ride without stirrups for 30 minutes three times a week for three months you will develop a better seat and then have a good chance of passing your rating” Candidate to mother at home later: “I have a good chance of passing my rating!” 
  • Bandaging is required at the C3, B and H-HM / H / HA tests. Understand what the Standard requires of you at your test. Be very comfortable with your bandaging materials -- don’t bring brand new bandages to the test. One word of advice: PRACTICE. 
  • Longeing is required at the C3, B and H-HM / H / HA tests. Understand what the Standard requires of you at your test. H-HM / H / HA candidates should practice longeing unfamiliar horses. One word of advice: PRACTICE! 
  • Turnout – C3 candidates should practice their turnout. H-HM / H / HA candidates should practice different types of braids (e.g. Dressage, Hunter, French, etc.) and trimming. 
  • Make sure you understand the concept of the Basic Balanced Position (BBP) which is the foundation of riding in Pony Club. Read the handout by Allyson Thurston posted on the MidCal web site at http://midcal.ponyclub.org/files/Study_Guide_Basic_Balanced_Position.pdf 
  • Be aware that you may be asked to change an aspect of your riding during a rating. If the examiner is asking, for example, for a more forward seat during a gallop, you must be able to successfully demonstrate the requested change in position in order to Meet Standard. This may be difficult for the candidate used to riding with only one instructor. Take advantage of the many mounted clinic opportunities that the region makes available to its members. 
  • Many candidates have misunderstood the importance of the flat warm-up. This is the first part of every mounted rating and gives the examiners their initial impression of you as a rider. We recommend that you establish a flat warm-up routine and practice discussing your warm up and ride with a variety of instructors. Read over “Riding on the Flat” in the Standards and have a clear understanding of all aspects of this section. If you are attending one of the prep clinics, come with your routine already established. The list below are some suggestions taken from a recent rating prep (and is not all inclusive): 
    • Need an overall statement of goals for warming up 
    • Need to verbalize what your specific goals are for your horse 
    • Demonstrate and discuss the activity you did to support your goal and how you did it. You need to critique your ride 
    • Need to demonstrate: o relaxation o free forward movement o suppleness o longitudinal stretching, shortening, lengthening. Transitions from gait to gait. Half halts, collection o bending – shortens one side of body, lengthens other. Circles, serpentines, 1/2 circles 
  • Many candidates have not had adequate practice in critiquing their riding. Upper level candidates must be able to verbalize both their plan and their ride using the appropriate terms. This takes practice. Make sure that your instructor(s) are having you discuss your riding on a consistent basis. 
  • For the upper level ratings, it is very important that you understand the theory behind your riding. We strongly suggest that you read the recommended reading found on the last page of each Standard. Understanding the theory behind riding may not be a normal part of mounted instruction. If you are taking a Specialty rating, for example, you may want to schedule “unmounted” lessons with a trainer from that discipline. An example would be to schedule time with a Hunter-Jumper trainer to understand the theory behind course design and distances. 
  • Being successful in competitions does not always equate to success in a rating situation. At the upper level ratings, not only must you “ride” but you must also “understand”, “critique”, “troubleshoot” and “articulate”. Although we encourage you to compete in your riding discipline, this should only be one component of your preparation. 
  • Get together with your fellow candidates for study groups, bandaging practice, riding critique and switch horse rides. 
  • Find a mentor in your club or a nearby club, someone who has passed the rating and can tell you what it was like, give you advice on how to prepare, etc. 
  • Remember the 4 Cs – Commitment, Consistency, Competency and Confidence. Are you committed to taking and passing the rating? Are you consistent, competent and confident at the level of the test? 
  • Finally, make sure that you present yourself and your mount in the best possible light at the rating – act like a professional, know how long everything takes so that you are not flustered. Practice making your horse stand still.

Horse requirements for national mounted ratings (C3, B and A)

  • Horse must be able to demonstrate your skills at the level 
  • Horse must be suitable for switching – if your horse is not suitable you may not be able to participate in the switch horse portion of the test and would therefore not be able to Meet Standard in this part of the test. 
  • USPC policies apply: You may not bring a mount under five or a stallion to a test. 
Soundness and fitness
  • Have a second horse ready as a backup at all times in case your horse goes lame, ride this horse on a regular basis before the rating 
  • Your horse must be fit enough to compete at the level and duration of the rating. 
  • Make sure it is clean, safe, fits the horse, is suitable for the phase and meets any discipline specific guidelines.

Test change and withdrawal process

  • Before the application deadline you may withdraw from the test without incurring any fees.
  • Testing candidates may withdraw from a test and receive a refund minus a $50 processing fee up to 8 weeks prior to test date. Withdrawals must be made in writing to Ashley Kurtzahn at the USPC National Office.  Email is acceptable.  Remember there is a 3- hour time difference. 
  • Cancellation refunds are available if the cancellation is made prior to 8 weeks from the test date, minus the $50.00 handling fee. Cancellations made after the 8 weeks from the test date will result in a forfeit of the testing fee.
  • Test dates and venues change requests may be made online Change of Site Request.
  • Don’t be a “no show” at the test; you will have to ask special permission to test again.

What to expect at the rating

  • Expect a long and intense day or weekend for the test.  Please come to the test well rested. Don’t make plans for the night of the test – you will be tired!
  • Examiners do not have a quota of candidates that they need to Meet Standard.  It is possible for all of the candidates in a testing to Meet Standard, or for all of them to Not Meet Standard.  Each candidate is being compared to the Standard, not to the other candidates.

The outcome - what if things don’t go well?

  •  Ask the Examiners’ permission to stay in the test, learn what you don’t know so that you can be better prepared the next time.  Stay for a debriefing with the Examiners.
  • For most of you there will always be another opportunity to test. Perhaps you just “tested too early”, in another year you will be that much older and wiser and the test will be a different experience.
  • Bring a trusted advocate with you – someone to share your emotions with when it doesn’t go right.


  • Candidates of mounted tests will now be eligible to re-test part of their riding test.
  • The C3, B and A Traditional, Dressage and Show Jumping re-test:  A candidate may re- test part of their riding test if they have not passed one section of their riding test. 
  • The H-HM/H/H-A re-test: A candidate may re-test two of the following sections; 
    • the longeing 
    • bandaging 
    • teaching
  • The H-B re-test: A candidate may re-test up to five sections of the test. All re-tests will take place before December 31st of the calendar year.
  • Note: A candidate may re-test only if the candidate qualifies for a re-test, and the original National Examining test panel has recommended the candidate to re-test.
  • Retest will be conducted within established National Level Testings
  • Candidates have until August 31 of the following year to complete a Re-Test
  • Only those Candidates aging out must complete their Re-Test prior to the end of the year and may request special accomodations for a Re-TestAll application materials (including paperwork & fee) is due 3 wks before test date.
  • Retests may not happen sooner then 1 month  prior to the initial test.
  • The fee to Re-Test is $60 and must be submitted with the Application to Re-Test
  • Retest Eligibility:
    • The A re-test: A candidate may re-test a section of the test (riding) they have not passed. If the candidate does not pass one section of their test and is successful in all other parts of the test they may re-test that one section.
    • The B and C-3 re-tests: A candidate may re-test a section of the riding test they have not passed. In addition we will continue to allow the candidate to re-test either bandaging or longing. Maximum sections allowed for DNMS is 2 sections, one riding, and one of longeing or bandaging.
    • The H-HM/H/H-A re-test: A candidate may re-test two of the following sections; the longeing, bandaging or teaching.
    • The H-B re-test: A candidate may re-test up to five sections of the test.

end faq

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