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Inspirational Dressage
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Inspirational Dressage

“Dressage” is a French word, usually translated as “training”. It is a competitive equestrian sport, and the International Equestrian Federation defines it as “the highest expression of horse training, where horse and rider are expected to perform a series of predetermined moves.” (quoted from About Dressage, 2011, by the I.E.F.)

The origins of this discipline developed primarily from the classical riding of the Renaissance period, although its roots can be traced to the time of Xenophon (c. 435-354 BC), the Greek soldier, essayist and historian, whose book, On The Art of Horsemanship, is one of the most famous works on equitation.  Xenophon wrote: “If one induces the horse to assume the carriage which it would adopt….when displaying its beauty then one directs [it] to appear joyous and magnificent, proud and remarkable for being ridden.”

The highest levels of dressage take years of training to achieve, but when it is done well, especially when performed to music, it is spectacular to watch. For the rider it is a hugely challenging and rewarding sport. It cannot be achieved without a true partnership between a horse and rider, with both reaching heights of performance which depend on each other. Even if you do not plan to compete, practising dressage will make your horse more responsive and pleasant to ride. It is the foundation for all riding, with the key elements being an absence of force in the rider and responsiveness and athleticism in the horse.

There is no such thing as an unimportant element in dressage. Attention to detail, self-control, consistency and accuracy are all vital factors, especially as dressage is performed in the confines of a 60 x 20 m (65 x 22yds) arena, within which little escapes scrutiny.

The Spanish Riding School, which is the home of the famous Lipizzaner horses, maintains the classical principles of dressage.  The riders are some of the most sought-after coaches in the world. They emphasise the need for simplicity, progressive training, and respect for the horse. The stallions also perform the impressive classical leaps, or airs above the ground (levade, courbette, and capriole) which are not featured in competition.

Good dressage is enhancing and liberating and it is not surprising that it has the highest growth rate of all equestrian sports.  It is beneficial for all levels and types of horses, including ponies.  Although ponies are at a disadvantage in terms of the size of movement they are able to perform, there are gains for the rider because of the relative increase in the size of the arena.  There is no reason why a small horse cannot be competitive.

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  1. Rene Wright
    Rene Wright
    Voted. Interesting article. I have thought about taking a few dressage lessons. It's certainly something to seriously consider. :)
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  2. jst4horses
    Dressage, to any music is fun. I trained as a young teen with the only Native American to be a gold medalist in the Olympic equestrian. My Mom had a habit of finding someone amazing to teach us when we wanted to learn something. I learned Austrian Calvary, the style of the Lipizzan School. I was very fortunate to live near the restaurant that in time would become Medievil Times. I would go and watch them train the awesome real Lipizzaner at the practice sessions. In time I met the riders of Lipizzan America, and visited them when they were touring nearby. I was very ill and had been in a serious accident so could not ride. Their commander said, when you are ready, find us and you can ride one of our horses. I was so excited just to be near them, to touch them. To watch the training. My younger son emailed one day, and was very upset. He had bought a boarding ranch as an investment, when the escrow closed he found it empty, the realtor had thrown all the renters OUT. He said, didn't you hear me when I said leave them, I wanted my Mom to know we had the Lipizzaner group here. I had taken my sons to see the real Lipizzaner exhibit performance with many of their horses and one of the pure black stallions when they were small. The best is to ride all the dressage with no tack at all. To music. I like country, or rock, and some classical. My horses have as well. Have fun with dressage, I think training it Native Natural Horsemanship is the best. The "horsey clothes" can be added just for exhibit the same as our inclination to practice in shorts and tank tops. I often train in bare feet as well.
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    1. Eve Sherrill York
      Eve Sherrill York
      Interesting.
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  3. jst4horses
    Dressage, to any music is fun. I trained as a young teen with the only Native American to be a gold medalist in the Olympic equestrian. My Mom had a habit of finding someone amazing to teach us when we wanted to learn something. I learned Austrian Calvary, the style of the Lipizzan School. I was very fortunate to live near the restaurant that in time would become Medievil Times. I would go and watch them train the awesome real Lipizzaner at the practice sessions. In time I met the riders of Lipizzan America, and visited them when they were touring nearby. I was very ill and had been in a serious accident so could not ride. Their commander said, when you are ready, find us and you can ride one of our horses. I was so excited just to be near them, to touch them. To watch the training. My younger son emailed one day, and was very upset. He had bought a boarding ranch as an investment, when the escrow closed he found it empty, the realtor had thrown all the renters OUT. He said, didn't you hear me when I said leave them, I wanted my Mom to know we had the Lipizzaner group here. I had taken my sons to see the real Lipizzaner exhibit performance with many of their horses and one of the pure black stallions when they were small. The best is to ride all the dressage with no tack at all. To music. I like country, or rock, and some classical. My horses have as well. Have fun with dressage, I think training it Native Natural Horsemanship is the best. The "horsey clothes" can be added just for exhibit the same as our inclination to practice in shorts and tank tops. I often train in bare feet as well.
    Log in to reply.
  4. Teshaw R
    voted before I finished lol, hope mines is informative http://www.ofhorse.com/view-post/Common-Symptoms-that-Have-Heavy-Meaning
    Log in to reply.
  5. Eve Sherrill York
    Eve Sherrill York
    Very interesting piece. Voted.
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  6. dusty
    jst4horses. Man I would have given I anything ......to have been able to been enough close enough to touch one. Lipizzan horse have always been a love of mine so trained, so skilled and so in touch with their riders. A team for the ages and almost wiped out existence for political gain by Hitler. Dressage was what made a teenager watch English pleasure class and beg her mom for a flat saddle and help to learn the discipline of English riding. pleasure and pray for more. I found anything I could read about the sport and trust me when I tell you there was not much in books , internet hadn't been developed yet and thank to the gods there was magazines cause that where I found most of my information and gods love for the horse people who put up with me and my questing through their libraries. i was up and losing English pleasure classes in two months and beginning to place and win within 6 months . you commented that you worked with out gear.saddle bridle ect. That is where i learned to win. posting no saddle holding form and developing the muscles i needed and the patiences that my partner need to help me. when i started winning people begin to ask my mom where she was taking me for classes and when she laughed and told them that I wasn't taking lessons . they called her a lair. she never told me a word about it. I finally overheard someone speak to her and blew up. My mother has always been more comfortable with animals then people, she once told me that she heard more honestly form an animal then people ever really said when we talk cause animal don't talk to listen to them selves. thank you for your feature it just read and the memory you gave me of a love I had forgotten. If you are a young rider plz do your self a favor take off the tack and work you body and your partners then dress up for the show the improvement will simply amaze you
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