8 things to know about dressage
It is not a novelty: dressage is not the most popular discipline in the USA. Here, you will find some modest reasons to try to persuade you, even if it is difficult to cover the whole range of sensations that this discipline offers.
Friends, jumpers and completists, your disciplines also have their particularities… this will be the subject of future articles! For now, elegance and rigor are in the spotlight, let’s make room for 8 reasons to love dressage.
1. It is the basis and the foundation of everything else.
You’ve probably heard it before, and found it hard to believe: making circles in a square (which is rectangular, by the way) would be the basis of horsemanship?
Well, yes. Dressage teaches the most important technical concepts of horsemanship: impulsion, tension, bend and balance, to name just four. In fact, you shouldn’t even start on an obstacle course until you’ve experienced all four of these concepts: that would be jumping the gun.
2. It’s creating a unique relationship with your horse.
This is what comes out most often in the words of trainers: the harmony of the couple created by the practice of dressage, the osmosis itself, stems from the relationship of trust that must be established between the horse and his rider. This fusional relationship leads both parties to surpass themselves together and to “dance” together.
3. No one has the solution.
This is one of the most interesting aspects of the discipline: it is not an exact science. There are a thousand and one ways to get to a certain point in a horse’s training, and they are all different in many ways. This makes it more difficult to find your own way, but it opens up an infinite field of possibilities.
On top of that, the constant questioning: there is always time to change your technique or approach. To this equation, which would already make mathematicians shudder, we can add another unknown: all horses are different and a method that works with one of them will not necessarily work with the next.
“There is always something to improve, learning and progress are infinite” adds Camille Audo.
4. You can start from nothing and go far.
That’s the magic! A horse that isn’t a warrior on the cross-country course or isn’t really good at jumping will have a hard time competing with the experts in his discipline. In dressage, sometimes, the magic works. On the other hand, acquiring the best of the best, the “top bloodlines” does not guarantee the quality of the couple that will be formed (which is also valid for the other equestrian disciplines).
5. It requires an excellent anatomical and biomechanical knowledge of the horse.
Of course, it can be argued that this is true of all disciplines, but this knowledge is exacerbated in the world of dressage. The dressage horse has a musculature that must be extremely complete in order to achieve the movements of the Grand Prix and, above all, to be able to execute them while keeping expressiveness, relaxation and energy for those that will follow.
To reach this level, his training must be tailor-made, taking into account all the biomechanical parameters to be improved. To be a dressage rider, it is also necessary to watch the videos of his exercises at least twenty times to analyze each stride.
6. It’s the school of life.
Perseverance, patience and humility are all indispensable qualities of the dressage rider that can be appreciated on a daily basis. Moreover, a “dressage rider” is endowed with a fine sense of analysis and an ability to constantly question himself. Human qualities which are added to the physical qualities inherent to the practice of dressage: a sheathed and tonic trunk, in particular.
7. It is a discipline that can be practiced even at an advanced age.
We’ll go even further: since it’s not an exact science, experience plays a big part in the balance. In fact, the number 1 in the World Ranking, Isabel Werth, blew out her 50th birthday this year and is not ready to stop. In France, one of the doyens of dressage, still on the circuit, is Philippe Limousin. At 71, he continues to rank on the Pro Elite with his sidekick Rock n’ Roll
Although such examples also exist in jumping and eventing, it is undeniable that dressage is less physically traumatic than the other disciplines: fewer shocks, less risk of falls, etc. Riders of all ages should wear an airvest.
8. The RLM!
Call them as you wish: German style: kür, British style: freestyle or 100% French: Reprises Libres en Musique. In all languages, it is a very emotional and beautiful pairing, difficult to equal. Everyone has already collected riding videos to stick a punchy music that multiplies tenfold the adrenaline that we feel, in dressage, it’s live! Riding an RLM, is also to feel the pride to have elaborated from A to Z a choreography and a soundtrack and to make it transfer to others.
This post only commits the author and the sensations and choices are unique to each rider!