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Archive for the ‘Dressage’ Category

Dressage is a French term meaning “training” and its purpose is to develop the horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to work making him calm, supple and attentive to his rider. Originally designed to show the horse’s ability to perform intricate movements on the parade involved with reviewing troops, today the dressage test comprises a set series of movements performed in an enclosed arena.

Precision, smoothness and suppleness show off the horse’s obedience. Ideally the horse appears to perform the test moments of its own accord, working in harmony with its rider. The test is scored on each movement with the overall harmony and precision of the test taken into consideration. It comprises an exact sequence of movements ridden in an enclosed arena.  The test is judged by one or more judges who are looking for balance, rhythm and suppleness and most importantly, obedience of the horse and its connection with the rider.

Competitive dressage involves nine progressive levels incorporating multiple tests within each level. Special tests are also written for musical freestyle, sport horse breeding and performances incorporating multiple horses and riders.

Each movement in the test is scored on a scale from 0 to 10, with a score of “10” being the highest possible mark and with the total maximum score for the test varying depending on the level of competition and the number of movements. Therefore, if one movement is poorly executed, it is still possible for the rider to get a good overall score if the remaining movements are very well executed. The marks are added together and any errors of course deducted. To convert this score to penalty points, the average marks of all judges are converted to a percentage of the maximum possible score, multiplied by a co-efficient decided by the governing body and then subtracted from 100.

Dressage is occasionally referred to as “Horse Ballet”.  Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to perform. At the peak of a dressage horse’s gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider’s minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless, looking as if the horse was dancing.

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