What Is Dressage?


A simple description of dressage: horse ballet. The aim of dressage is to develop the horse’s natural ability and willingness to perform for the rider. At peak performance a dressage horse is relaxed whilst performing a movement requested by the rider. The overall picture of the horse should be effortless and the rider’s aids appear minimal.

Training and Competitions

Dressage training and competitions take place in an arena. Generally there are two sizes; small (20 m by 40 m) and the standard arena which is 20 m by 60 m. Dressage movements are performed at specific positions around the arena. Letters are assigned or placed on the arena to know where the specific positions are.

There are also different types of dressage. You can learn more about western dressage here, for example.

Competitions in dressage are held from amateur levels to the Olympic Level. Lower levels of dressage competition may only require the rider to walk and trot. These shows are often held in your local area and should not be difficult to find in order to enter. As you compete and advance through the various levels, the dressage tests will increase in difficulty. Competitions require more movement and skill from the lower levels up to the final competition level which is Grand Prix and International Competitions.

Training Scale

A dressage training scale is used as a guide for training the horse. Each level is to be developed and improve on as the horse progresses in training. Thus a Grand Prix horse, competing at the top level of competition still needs to perform all the bottom levels of the pyramid and not just show and perform the highest level. The horse must be well rounded in all aspects, and a good way to train them is with round pen training.

When competing at the lower levels of dressage you are judged on the basics. This is what the judges are looking for: your horse has what they call impulsion, this can be described as moving forward, starting to come up through his back and is accepting your (rider’s) aids. He has a number of horses to look at in the competition and he is going to be looking for the horse and rider who have performed the basics the best.

Levels of Dressage

As you progress through the levels of dressage your horse should be more supple and able to perform movements such as shoulder-in and haunches-in. No matter what level of dressage you enter, always train the correct way. Do not take short cuts so that your horse looks good, they will not serve you well in the end and you may have to retrain your horse from the start.

Warm bloods are the type of horse that is mostly seen competing in the top levels of dressage.

Dressage is an equal sport in which all breeds are given an opportunity to compete successfully. The techniques and principles of dressage can be learned by any riding horse.

Each country has a governing body over dressage and it is advisable to research the levels and tests pertaining to the country in which you live. That way you are fully prepared for the competitions in which you choose to partake. You will know the various levels of competition and what is required from horse and rider in each level.

Why Join a Sporting Club?

You probably have never thought about it, but there are very many sports clubs available for you to join, dressage included. As an active player, you may want to consider joining a sports club to become more immersed in this activity.

The main purpose of the club is a group of player to collaborate, plan, and play sports together, often for long trips. Your sport experience can be taken to the next level by joining a group of people who enjoy the same things as you do.

Sports Experience

Enjoying the experience with someone else is just a minor part of the overall experience. From a sports club, you will enjoy more opportunity in general, as some clubs have access to funds for trips. You will also have more safety during your sport trips due to a large amount of people there to help and be aware of dangers. Therefore, an accident will be much less likely, and if one does occur, there will be people there to help immediately.

Joining a sports club will open up new opportunity within the sport to you. Joining one of these clubs will allow you to make new friends that enjoy the same sport/hobby. It also will teach you things about playing you may not have ever known. Another great benefit of joining a playing group is you are revealed new places to go playing. Often, some playing adventures will require travel out of town, camp, or stay at a hotel/motel. If you join a sports club, these costs will be distributed among the members, meaning you can enjoy the trip but have lower costs.

To become more immersed in your chosen sporting activity, make sure that you seek out training wherever you can. You can learn more about dressage training online, or from a local club. In the same way, you can learn about other sports from online sources and through local clubs. I suggest you use both, so that you can combine the knowledge you learn and advance more quickly. A great source of online sports training for all sorts of sports is at Piranha Sports Fitness, where you can learn about basketball, tennis, football and more.

Variety of Sports Clubs

You should be aware of the wide variety of clubs for players that there is. Sports clubs range from basic, join free and get together with a small group and go on a small hike clubs, all the way to clubs that charge fees, hold weekly meetings, and go on month long trips. Some clubs participate in different activities to raise funds for the trips, and others offer a pay-as-things-come type of structure. You need to be aware of how much immersion you desire to get into the right club.

When it is choosing a club for playing, you must consider several things that will affect your experience. As mentioned above, some clubs charge fees. Dressage is one of the most expensive clubs you can join, so be aware of the long-term costs if you are going to commit to dressage.

Make sure this fee is very affordable for you, you do not want the financial aspect hard on you because if it is your experience will be less enjoyable as you wonder, “should I have paid for this?” Check to see if the club you are considering has meetings if they are required, and the frequency. You do not want to join a club that conflicts with your family time and work schedule. You should attend all meetings because you will get to know your fellow players, and learn new things.

Do a quick online search for local sports clubs. Visit local parks, and consult with tour agencies to find even more sports clubs you might want to join. Be sure to get as many details about the club as you can to truly find the club that best matches what you want.You do not have to settle for what is nearby either; you can also try starting your club, or join an out of town sports club as well. Also, consider asking park rangers or managers of a large state park to find some sports clubs.

Stop Procrastinating and Join In!

Just in case your need some help 🙂

What the next step? If you’ve already made up your mind about joining a dressage club, visit Equestrian.ca to learn more about what you’ll need to begin in dressage, and find some local clubs. You can learn about competitions, training seminars and much more. Dressage is a life-long activity that can provide endless entertainment and a feeling of mastery.

Enjoy you equestrian experience. And even though competitions can be serious, always remember to have fun with it: