Summer is well on the way! That means the dressage season is in full swing, giving people and horses the perfect opportunity to start getting involved. Dressage is regarded as the most aesthetically pleasing of all the horse riding disciplines and is steeped in history. Its origins go back as far as the writings of Xenophon (~430 BC-354 BC), a former student of ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. That’s well over 2,000 years! These days many consider dressage to be as much an art form as it is a highly skilled sport and it’s becoming increasingly popular. So, if you’re eager to learn more, saddle up for The Insurance Emporium’s digestible dressage guide!
Dressage is an extremely technical discipline dictated by perfection. However, it doesn’t take much to get started! The essence of dressage is simply getting your horse to do what you want, when you want. So, if you’re trotting around an enclosure and successfully directing your steed, you’re essentially taking the first steps on your dressage adventure!
Competitions require a little more than a simple trot, however! At major events, riders and horses have to follow a set of predetermined movements and instructions in a 60m x 20m arena. The movements, such as pirouettes and elaborate trots called piaffes, are each marked out of 10 by a number of judges and added together at the end to create an overall mark which is converted to a percentage.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t involve playing Bitter Sweet Symphony on the violin while riding your horse! Music was added to dressage competition in 1979 and involves performing as normal, but your song choice must be suited to the horse. The music you pick needs to have a tempo which complements the horse’s footfalls, but it also has to match the personality and style of your steed. So, if you’ve got a dainty and fleet-footed horse, you’re likely to choose something with a quick tempo. However, you might still want to steer clear of Pendulum’s Tarantula!
Dressage at the Olympics
Dressage has been an event at every summer Olympic Games since its 1912 debut in Stockholm, Sweden. As a discipline it has changed significantly down the years, with the horses no longer expected to jump, but it has become progressively more demanding! As such, some horses are bred specifically for dressage these days, meaning they’re significantly more capable than 100 years ago. Germany lead the way for total medals (52) and golds (25), with Isabell Werth (six golds, four silvers) the most successful in Olympics history.
Watching Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin winning individual dressage gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics will have been inspiring to many. If you’ve got a horse, that might have had the same impact on you. It’s a discipline which could potentially take you and your horse all over Europe, and at The Insurance Emporium we offer European Use as an Elective Benefit which could help you feel more at ease when hitting the hay on the continent.
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