10 Steps to Performing Dressage

10 Steps to Performing Dressage

Dressage has existed since humans have been riding horses and is the art of horse training in its purest form.

Dressage is made up of a series of movements which are performed in front of an audience and judged. When done correctly it gives the appearance that the horse is dancing with the rider – in a beautiful and fluid movement.

Dressage RiderOrigins of Dressage

Dressage originates from the French word ‘dresser’ which means to train. The concept is based on creating understanding and harmony between the rider and the horse. Originally dressage was used to ensure trust between these partners during battle whereas now it is a way for trainers and riders to show their equestrian skill in competition.

For a beginner wanting to learn dressage, there are 10 essential steps which need to be taken into consideration. They are:

1.    Riding position
The riding position you choose is vital to the success of your horse training. The best way to find the correct position for your seat is to ensure that you can feel your lower back strength with every stride the horse takes. You should feel every movement of the horse in your back and upper legs.

2.    Leg position
The position of your leg is also important; you should try to bring your legs underneath you so that you are sat up straight. You should also ensure that your stirrups are not too long to maintain balance and keep with the horse.

3.    Equine relationship
Ensure you and your horse trust each other as this may affect your test. Without this relationship, training your horse is going to be incredibly difficult.

4.    Basic gaits
The first thing you should work on with your horse is the walk, trot and canter. This should be consistent throughout training – both you and your horse should feel comfortable throughout these three gaits no matter what the circumstances.

5.    Transitions
Your horse should have smooth, forward transitions both up and down. Balance should also be maintained throughout the time you are riding him – and he should be constantly maintaining a contact and moving forward.

As the rider, you will be in control of the transitions. They should occur if and when you would like them to and your horse should only need gentle prompting to carry them out.

6.    Move into contact
Your horse should always move into contact with the bit. Judges at these events will be looking at your horse’s willingness to come into contact with the bridle so this should be worked on extensively during training.

7.    Improve your balance
You should remember that if your horse is struggling with any moves, it could be down to your balance. Ensure the saddle is the correct fit for both horse and rider as this will help with your balance.

8.    Turns
You should always try to bend your horse around turns by supporting him with your inside leg and your outside hand. The curve of his body should meet that of the corner.

9.    Tests
Before your dressage test you could perform your test in front of a certified horse trainer. Horse training tips can be difficult to come by so ask as many questions as you can!

10.    The show
The show will be exciting and nerve racking. It is important to allow your horse to get to know its environment and have a wander around. You should also keep your nerves to a minimum as this will reflect onto your horse.

With these tips in mind – your first dressage show will be great fun!

Also if you need some equipment before you start we have a great range of synthetic dressage saddles and leather dressage saddles.

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