Dessage rider

What is Dressage?

The word dressage comes from French and means “training.” Its purpose is to develop the horse’s natural athletic ability in order to make it calm, supple and attentive to the rider. The sport developed in the form of teaching horses movements in preparation for war. Some of the movements are natural to the horse, while others were developed through training for use in battle to outwit enemies. Although to a spectator it may seem like an easy ride around an arena at different gaits, it requires a great level of training of both the horse and the rider. It is often noted as a form of horse ballet.

At the highest level, the Olympic level, horses are asked to demonstrate the fluidity of the different gaits in straight lines and circles and move gracefully and obediently in place, sideways and diagonally. A spectator should not be able to see the commands given to the horse by the rider. Horses and riders at this level are scored by five judges placed around the arena. Riders with the highest scores, based on the performance of each required movement, win.

Another type of dressage gaining in popularity is the “Kur” or freestyle. Like figure skating, it is a dressage test made up of required movements choreographed to music, which the rider gets to choose. Again, competitors in the kur are judged by the precision of the movements and the artistic quality of a routine.

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