About Dressage

Nick Grandia Pic

If you are interested in studying, or learning about Dressage, the resources available through this website will help you.  Dressage is a French term that is most commonly translated to mean “training”.  It is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as “the highest expression of horse training”, where “horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.”  Competitions are held at all levels from amateur to the World Equestrian Games. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse’s gymnastic development, the horse will respond smoothly to a skilled rider’s minimal aids. The rider will be relaxed and appear effort-free while the horse willingly performs the requested movement. Dressage is occasionally referred to as “Horse Ballet.” Although the discipline has ancient roots in Europe, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then. Classical dressage is still considered the basis of modern dressage.

In modern dressage competition, successful training at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of “tests”, prescribed series of movements ridden within a standard arena. Judges evaluate each movement on the basis of an objective standard appropriate to the level of the test and assign each movement a score from zero to ten – zero being “not executed” and 10 being “excellent”. A score of 9 is very good and is a high mark, while a competitor achieving all 6s (or 60% overall) should be considering moving on to the next level.

Learning about Dressage, and utilizing its principles and training techniques, can benefit all horses and riders.  Central Washington Dressage Society offers a wide variety of trainers, clinics and events to help you make your way from the beginning to the highest levels.

This video of Steffen Peters and Ravel performing a Musical Freestyle illustrates how beautiful Dressage can be: