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An Unparalleled Combination

It is an unlikely union, a careful balance: sport and art, rider and horse, precision and interpretation, breeding and raw talent. Dressage requires a commitment of passion, resources, body, and mind.

The relationship between horse and rider is both essential and indescribable. The two must communicate on every level, trust one another, and work together toward a greater goal. The result is a work of beauty, a display of technique that touches all who witness it. 

What is dressage?
courtesy the United States Dressage Federation

Dressage is a French term meaning “training” and its purpose is to develop the horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to work making him calm, supple and attentive to his rider.

Currently, competitive dressage involves nine progressive levels incorporating multiple tests within each level. Special tests are also written for musical freestyle, sport horse breeding and performances incorporating multiple horses and riders. Tests are revised every four years by the United States Dressage Federation, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

Competition occurs in a regulation size arena with specific apparel and equipment all regulated by USEF. Judges are licensed by the USEF and the FEI and are assisted by scribes who write down the judge’s scores and comments during the test.

Success in dressage is dependent on the rider’s position and ability but because of the goal of the training, many horse breeds can be quite successful.

Watching dressage can be very exciting, especially the musical freestyle rides or tests at the FEI (highest) levels.