Eventing Overview: Dressage

  Today will be the beginning of another new post series called "Eventing Overview". It will be composed of 3 posts about an overview of each eventing phase; dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping.

  For those of you who may not know which english discipline you would like to participate in or would like to know more about eventing, this series is for you. Since eventing is composed of three phases, it essentially allows you to have the best of all worlds.

Photographer:
Andrea Blair
Picture from:
http://www.ablairphotographyblog.com/2010/06/27/kamloops-dressage-show-%E2%98%9E-equestrian-salmon-arm-photographer/

  So without further ado, here is the first post on dressage.

  I don't think dressage gets as much appreciation as it should. Maybe it's because it's supposed to look effortless or that jumping is more "exciting", but not too many people turn their attention towards the discipline. Dressage is a difficult sport filled with beauty and elegance. If there's one discipline that showcases the strength and grace of the equine, dressage would be it.

  It takes a lot of hard work to get the horse and rider to execute those movements with such ease and discreteness. And if you thought remembering the order of jumps was hard, try remembering a test. It's basically like trying to remember a dance routine except on horseback. 

  A dressage test is more often than not the first phase in eventing and will usually take place in a small ring that is 20 metres by 40 metres. At the higher levels, the rings are usually 20 metres by 60 metres. At specific points along the ring, there are letters. These letters will tell the rider when they are to change to the next movement throughout their test. For example, a test might say: "halt and salute at 'X', proceed to a working trot, track left and circle at 'B' in a working canter". 

Picture from:
http://www.wdamn.org/training-by-degrees/2013-exercise-of-the-month-and-the-history-of-the-dressage-arena-letter-markers/
  As you can see from the picture above, the larger ring has more letters than the smaller ring. For the most part, you will probably be working in the 20 by 40 ring. If you need help remembering the order of the letters in the ring, try to remember the phrase All King Edward's Horses Can Move Beautifully Forward and that the letter 'X' is always in the middle of the ring.

  The purpose of dressage in the eventing discipline is to show the judge that you have good control of your horse and that he responds very well to your aids. This is why dressage is a good thing to practice even if you are a jumper. It's great to be able to jump over high fences, but if you can't control your horse, how do you expect to finish clear? Dressage is especially important when it comes to cross-country since you will be galloping towards solid obstacles. You want to make sure that your horse is able to collect himself enough to get both of you over the jump successfully.

  To leave you all with a little smile on your faces this week, I thought it would be fun to add in a little video relating to dressage. Evention (which I have mentioned a few times already) had posted a little bit of a ridiculous, while still funny, rap music video about dressage last week. I couldn't help but smile and laugh when I saw this and thought it was worth the share. Hopefully you will enjoy this too:

Video from:

  So that is it for this week's post. The second installment of "Eventing Overview" will not be published for a little while as I have already planned the posts for the next three weeks. Once again, thank you for reading Pure Horse Sense and I wish you all a wonderful weekend.

  Until next time, happy riding!

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