Dressage Riding & Training the Dressage Horse

Dressage Horse Weltmeyer - hdr

Dressage Riding… training the horse for harmony, lightness and ease of movement.

Here we look at the British dressage rules; a few dressage secrets; a look at some top class dressage horses and some tips for training your dressage horse.

Dressage, today, comes under three distinct classifications; Classical, Standard and Freestyle and it’s important to step back and look at the basics to understand exactly what dressage is, why it has become such a popular sport and what the ultimate aims of the dressage movements are.

Dressage riding is also one phase in the equestrian sport of eventing and is generally classed as the disciplinarians ridden sport.

However, freestyle dressage is showing that dressage riders are far from simple discipline focused riders and that they have grace and rhythm as well as style.

Dressage Arena LayoutThe Dressage Arena

What are the different size dressage arena markings. The images here, show the dressage arena letter layouts for a 20x40m arena and a 20x60m arena.

Top Dressage HorsesTop Dressage Horses

Top dressage horses have that little something else; that presence, that flashy movement and that sense of enjoyment that says, “I’m that good and I know it“.

The Dressage SaddleThe Dressage Saddle

Designed to help the rider adopt the most centrally balanced seat, the dressage saddle helps the rider execute dressage movements.

Secrets of Dressage RidingDressage Secrets

Dressage judge Charles de Kunffy explains some dressage secrets and how to focus on your horse instead of the dressage movements & achieve a picture of harmony

Let’s take a look at the superb explanation from the USA Equestrian rule book.

The USA Equestrian Rule Book dressage definition :

Dressage in a Double BridleThe object of Dressage is the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse. As a result it makes the horse calm, supple, loose and flexible but also confident, attentive and keen thus achieving perfect understanding with his rider.

These qualities are revealed by:

  • The freedom and regularity of the gaits;
  • The harmony, lightness and ease of the movements;
  • The lightness of the forehand and the engagement of the hindquarters, originating in a lively impulsion;
  • The acceptance of the bridle with submissiveness throughout and without any tenseness or resistance.

The horse thus gives the impression of doing of his own accord what is required of him. Confident and attentive he submits generously to the control of his rider remaining absolutely straight in any movement on a straight line and bending accordingly when moving on curved lines.

His walk is regular, free and unconstrained. His trot is free, supple, regular, sustained and active. His canter is united, light and cadenced.

His quarters are never inactive or sluggish. They respond to the slightest indication of the rider and thereby give life and spirit to all the rest
of his body.

By virtue of a lively impulsion and the suppleness of his joints, free from the paralyzing effects of resistance the horse obeys willingly and without hesitation and responds to the various aids calmly and with precision, displaying a natural and harmonious balance both physically and mentally.

In all his work even at the halt the dressage horse must be on the bit.

The rhythm that a horse maintains in all its gaits and paces is fundamental to Dressage Riding.Charles de Kunffy
A horse is said to be on the bit when the neck is more or less raised and arched according to the stage of training and the extension or collection of the gait and he accepts the bridle with a light and soft contact and submissiveness throughout.

The head should remain in a steady position as a rule slightly in front of the vertical with a supple poll as the highest point of the neck and no resistance should be offered to the rider.

Cadence is shown in trot and canter and is the result of the proper harmony that a horse shows when it moves with well marked regularity, impulsion and balance. Cadence must be maintained in all the different trot and canter exercises and all the variations of trot and canter.