Dressage achieves balance, suppleness, and obedience with the purpose
of improving and facilitating the horse's performance of normal
tasks. This discipline is elegance in motion, where every movement
made by horse and rider is choreographed to perfection. Speed is
not important, but total control of the horse is. This requires
the horse and rider to combine the strength and agility of gymnastics
with the elegance and beauty of ballet. Sometimes the horses are
said to be 'dancing' but this is not really the case.
In dressage competition, riders perform individually and they
ride in a pattern which includes several changes in pace and direction.
In its most basic stages, dressage helps the horse and rider communicate
with each other and develop balance, strength, flexibility and accuracy.
The dressage tests are a prescribed series of movements that each
horse must perform. Riders use the natural movements of horses to
create a dance, signaling the horse to walk, trot, or canter.
It takes years to teach a top dressage horse to compete at high
levels. At the most advanced level of dressage, the horse will still
require years of training to reach Grand Prix level. Strong dressage
riders have learned how to effectively communicate with the horse
through proper position and movement. Overall, a good dressage horse
must show lightness, cadence, beautiful soft rounded collection
and outstanding elasticity of all movements.
The object of dressage is the harmonious development of the physique
and ability of the horse. Both horsemanship and equestrianism must
be mastered before attempting a dressage competition. All work in
dressage should be free, light, aesthetically beautiful to the observer,
and the horse should remain on the bit. With almost invisible aids,
the dressage rider brings the horse to the highest degree of collection.
Dressage has an undeniable athletic component for both horse and
About the Author
Rob Daniels has been an equestrian rider for 25 years. He has studied
various disciplines additional articles are available at: Riding
Stable - http://www.riding-stable.com
and Horse Stall http://www.horse-stall.net