Dressage is a french word which is interpreted as ‘training’. It is considered widely as the most artistic and elegant of equestrian sports. This sport requires a rider and horse to be in perfect harmony together whilst performing. Dressage riders and horses perform ‘tests’ that consist of a course of movements and are judged on a scale of one to ten on these.
Dressage is seen to be the foundation for mostly all equestrian disciplines. Due to the precision required in the movements, the rider and horse need to be balanced and aware down to the most subtle aids.
There are ten different levels of dressage. These range from very basic skills up the highest levels which require literal perfection and years of training to master. Each level until the sixth has three tests of which the rider can choose.
For the first four levels of dressage there is only one judge for tests. Judges score movements on a scale of one up to ten. Competitors and their horses are scored on collective marks and the score for each movement is added together to come up with a final number of points. After this the number of points is divided by the highest number of points achievable and multiplied by ten to create a final percentage score.
Dressage riders are required to wear formal clothing in tests. The dress code for all tests up to the fourth level is a short riding coat of conservative colour with a tie, choker, stock tie or integrated stand-up collar, light coloured breeches, boots, and protective headgear. There are more specific rules relating to certain levels.
Generally expensive breeds of warmbloods are used for dressage. Warmbloods are extremely talented horses with nearly all breeds having foundations in European countries. Whist these horses are beautiful and athletic you do not have to have a warmblood horse if you wish to compete in dressage.