Explaining to non-riders what I do can be quite a task and sometimes I just say I horse ride instead. It can be a lengthy explanation that goes through explaining that we don’t jump over poles or fences, or race around to be the fastest competitor.
To me it is training, training and a whole lot more training of horses to move in a certain way that creates more relaxation, more push and more power to improve the overall picture when riding. The amount of time actually spent in the competitive arena is minuscule compared to the hours, early mornings and late nights training (or just feeding and mucking up manure).
Ever watched an athlete and think, ‘hey, I could do that!’ Well, welcome to dressage; the art of looking like you just sit there whilst the horse dances away.
The trick is with this sport, the more you know the more you appreciate and enjoy watching it and sometimes, even play along and score the top riders to see how your judging skills rack up.
What is dressage though? Dressage consists of predetermined movements performed with or without music between 12 set markers in a 20mx60m sand arena that is scored by one or more judges on the quality and ease that the horse and rider completes the routine (test).
When performed correctly, the horse and rider almost float and bounce along as ‘one’. It can be quite beautiful to watch.
Often compared to ballet, the intense connection between both human and equine athletes is a thing of beauty to behold ~ FEI.org
Dressage is often used as a tool for other equestrian sports including show jumping and eventing for its high quality of training techniques and communication or obedience between rider and horse. We often aim to bring out the best of each horse’s natural ability as an athlete in their own right.
So, whether you’re a rider or non-rider watching the best of the best in the dressage world compete in freestyle (routine with music) in the Grand Prix (highest level of dressage), anyone can come to enjoy watching dressage and appreciate that making it look easy is actually a lot of work.
© Shae Rudd 2019