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Dressage is derived from the French word “dresseur”, which means training, and dressage competitions showcase the ‘art of horse training’ via a set of prescribed movements performed in front of a panel of judges. All of which sounds kind of modern, but dressage actually dates back to 350AD.

Dressage has its roots in ancient Greece, where the training of horses for military purposes was highly valued. With an emphasis on obedience, manoeuvrability, and responsiveness, these principles were further refined during the Renaissance period, a time when dressage became associated with the noble and aristocratic classes.

Today, dressage is an Olympic sport and it is practiced and competed at various levels, ranging from local shows to international Grand Prix competitions.

Image by Kev from Pixabay

In a dressage test the rider and horse need to work in true harmony, showing suppleness, flexibility, obedience and athleticism.

So that horses and riders compete against the same standard, there are different levels for competition purposes. These names may differ depending on the country you live in, but as an example, the British levels are as follows:

  1. Introductory

  2. Preliminary

  3. Novice

  4. Elementary

  5. Medium

  6. Advanced Medium

  7. Advanced

  8. Prix St Georges

  9. Intermediate

  10. Intermediate II

  11. Grand Prix

As you might expect, these levels get harder and more complicated the higher you go, with the more advanced movements required at Grand Prix level being largely beyond the capabilities of mere mortals like the MumsHaynet team. Saying that, dressage remains a sport available to all and it’s a fascinating subject should you develop a passion for this discipline.

Dressage, when practiced responsibly and with sympathy for the horse's well-being, can be highly beneficial for the horse. The exercises help to develop the horse's strength, flexibility, and balance.

The lateral work involved promotes suppleness, and the art of collection helps the horse to develop it's carrying capacity, and better support the rider's weight. Dressage can also be mentally stimulating for the horse.

As with showjumping, the FEI governs international dressage competitions and establishes the rules and regulations for the sport. There are also numerous magazines and websites devoted to dressage with one of the favourites of the MumsHaynet team being Eurodressage.

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