Training The Dressage Horse

Getting Started & Training The Dressage Horse

You really need to start training the dressage horse in an arena measuring 20 by 40 metres.

This is the standard size of a dressage arena but if you can’t mark out your own arena, consider hiring a manege at a local riding school or a stable or livery yard.

If building your own dressage arena, the markers A K E H C M B F can be bought reasonably cheaply on ebay or from local tack shops ready made on spikes.

Dressage Arena

Or you can make your own dressage markers by painting them on boards, or buckets or water barrels.

Just make sure to always weigh these down with water or sand, as they do tend to blow away.

Hiring a local arena or manege should only cost around £5 to £10 an hour and is well worth the cost once a week or so.

If your own livery or stable yard has a school, then this should not be a problem.


Most riders begin training the dressage horse by entering unaffiliated dressage competitions.

If you can ride down the centre line, halt at X, proceed to C, turn left or right, ride the corner and receive 10 marks for the movement, then your horse is ready for Grand Prix dressage; and you will certainly win.Reiner Klimke

Your local riding club may run unaffiliated dressage competitions, or know somewhere that does.

Check the equestrian press, which is full of local competitions or you can regularly check our equestrian events diary for your local area.

You can then try dressage at a minimum cost and make sure both you and your horse enjoy it.

Eventually, if you do enjoy dressage riding, you may want to affiliate.

This means joining your affiliated organisation, such as British Dressage or USDF, then entering affiliated competitions and earning points for your horse and progressing through the standards and competing at higher levels.

British Dressage Icon

British Dressage

National Agricultural Centre
Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth
Warwickshire, CV8 2RJ – Tel: 02476 698830
BD website

USDF Dressage Icon

U.S. Dressage Federation

4051 Iron Works
Parkway, Lexington
KY 40511 – Tel: (859) 971-2277
USDF website


Dressage Riding Icon

Getting Started in Dressage

Dressage is the fastest growing equestrian sport. It’s no longer seen as unfashionable or posing about on a horse
More On Dressage

Dressage Saddle Icon

Equipping Your Dressage Horse

Having decided you want to try dressage riding, what sort of dressage tack and equipment will you need?
Dressage Tack


Dressage Associtions
Your dressage association or federation should be able to send you a free booklet about what they do and also provide a few tips on starting your dressage competition career and training the dressage horse.

NOTE: Many unaffiliated organisers have their own rules for dressage competitions, but if you follow the basic rules of your Dressage Association, you won’t go far wrong.