From: Horse Competitions

See also: Dressage TrainingHorse TackDressage Video

Horse Picture

Dressage is a the term given for a competitive horse sport that involves progressive training of the horse to improve their obedience, suppleness, athleticism and willingness to perform to the best of their ability.

The Competition
A dressage competition involves the rider and horse performing a set sequence of movements in an arena, with each movement of the test being graded by a judge and given a mark out of 10.

Dressage Scores
Each movement of the test is marked out 10 with 10 being the highest and zero being not performed. The grades are as follows:

A competitor can lose marks for making an error of course, being incorrectly dressed, incorrect tack, talking through the test or if they fail to enter within the 45 second time allowed after being signalled to begin the test.

Elimination can occur if the rider begins before they are signalled by the judge, if they have any outside assistance during the test (with the exception of someone calling the test for them who will not incur penalties) or for any other infringements that may occur.

The competitor with the highest percent score at the end of the class is the winner, as a guide a score that is above 60% is a good score too have achieved with 70% being a very good score and 75 to 80% is an excellent score to finish on.

Dressage Tests
There are several different tests for each levels of the horses development, which gradually increase in the level of skill and technical difficulty. The marks achieved and comments given by the judge will help you to know when you are ready to progress to the next level, along with your own careful training programme.

The tests are marked on six main areas:

Levels of Dressage Tests
Stating off at Introductory the dressage levels gradually progress and involve more technical movements and requirements from the horse.

Movements Within A Test
The movements required will depend on the level that is to be performed. For example during an introductory class the movements required often include movements such as turns across the school, 20 m circles along and transitions from walk to trot, with no canter required for this level. As the classes progress the inclusion of movements such as lengthened strides, medium trot, counter canter, half pass, rein back, shoulder in, flying changes, pirouettes, piaffe and passage are added.

Dressage Arena
The arena size will depend on the test being performed, but will have either part or a complete surround of white boards with letter markers positioned marking out the arena.

Dressage Horses
Any horse can perform a dressage test and will benefit from the principles and training structure of dressage training. There are however certain horse breeds who appear to have a natural flare and ability to perform dressage to the highest standard. Horse breeds such as Andalusian, Danish Warmblood, Dutch Warmblood, Hanoverian, Lusitano, Westphalian and Oldenburg are particularly well known for reaching this high level of dressage training.

Dressage Equipment
Both horse and rider need to be properly turned out and wearing the correct tack. Certain types of bits and nose bands are not permitted so carefully check beforehand to avoid elimination on the day. Martingales, breastplates and neck straps are also not permitted.

Equipment that the horse should be wearing:

The Rider
The rider should be well presented and be wearing the following:

Both horse and rider should be immaculately turned. The horse should be wearing a clean saddle, numnah, girth and bridle, they should be thoroughly groomed with hooves painted, mane plaited, tail either pulled or plaited and quarter markers added. The rider should also be well presented wearing the correct competition clothing and with their number well displayed.