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British Gold - But How To Ride Dressage?
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British Gold  -  But How To Ride Dressage?

The British finally broke their duck in Dressage at the London Olympics and did they ever do it with style! Not only did they win the team Gold medal, but they also got the Gold and Bronze medals in the individual event.

There are many horse back riders and non riders too I am sure who saw the Olympics and wondered how to ride dressage? Many people are not even aware of what Dressage is and why it is even considered a sport that is included in the Olympics. In order to answer the question we must look back a long way to a Greek general called Xenophon who lived around 430BC to 355BC. He wrote a book called The Art of Horsemanship, which was a training manual for his troops as to how to ride correctly, this is now considered to be the first book on Dressage.

As we can see since Dressage is one of the oldest sports and originated by the Greeks (in all likelihood) it well deserves to be an Olympic sport Xenophon even originated in the Athens area! So what does Dressage actually mean?

"Dressage (a French term, most commonly translated to mean "training") is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training"" Thank you Wikipedia. More correctly it would be defined as the correct and proper gymnastic training of the horse in order to fully develop its natural gaits.

So understanding this we realise that in fact all riders of horses will to greater or lesser degrees actually have to practise Dressage if they are going to be able to ride at all. This should put paid to all of those riders who insist they have absolutely no interest in Dressage as it is only a sport for the snobs.

Strictly factually it is the only correct method of developing a horses skills and Xenophon believed that riders had been practising it for many years (hundreds or even thousands) before he wrote his treatise. He was merely trying to assemble the collective knowledge of correct riding technique so that his officers would all be able to ride better and therefore be better cavalry.

What is interesting is that properly applied there is no force or punishment used in this method, and that is the one thing that underlies the correct training of the horse. It is based on applying pressure and release and the military tradition has been associated with Dressage for years. The Cadre Noir in France and The Spanish Riding School in Vienna are current examples they still practice "the airs above the ground" that are no longer included in the sport due to the risk, and because they really only have a military use, and are not likely to be required by every day riders.

So how to ride dressage ? fortunately there are a lot of good books available for this which you can acquire from Amazon and there is a particularly good trainer called Jane Savoie who has developed a complete course called A Happy Horse, which is available on DVD so that you can pause it and repeat lessons as often as you need a portable DVD player would even allow you to take it to the barn.

Congratulations to the British Team Charlotte Dujardin (Gold), Laura Bechtolsheimer (Bronze) and Carl Hester (5th). They did it without using Roll Kur (using force to get the horse deep round and low).

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