Dressage (a French term meaning "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to the Olympics. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet." Although the discipline has its roots in classical Greek horsemanship, mainly through the influence of Xenophon, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance in Western Europe. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then and classical dressage is still considered the basis of trained modern dressage.

Early European aristocrats displayed their horses' training in equestrian pageants, but in modern dressage competition, successful training at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of "tests," or prescribed series of movements within a standard arena. Judges evaluate each movement on the basis of an objective standard appropriate to the level of the test and assign each movement a score from zero to ten - zero being "not executed" and ten being "excellent." A score of nine (or "very good") is considered a particularly high mark, while a competitor achieving all sixes (or 60% overall) should be considering moving on to the next level.

Monday, February 20, 2012

From Denny Emerson

This is a fun blog from Denny Emerson, enjoy :)
New Blog Post It Only “Matters” if it Matters To You by Denny Emerson Like many of us, I get to see lots of horse magazines and books, and usually their primary emphasis is upon the higher levels of whatever horse sport they promote. I see photos of the same relatively few riders over and over, and get to read abo...ut the bigger competitions. There`s nothing at all unusual about this scenario. I don`t expect to get a local newspaper and read primarily about the local high school or Little League results. In Vermont it`s all about the Boston Red Sox, or the Patriots, or the Celtics, and it`s been that way "forever." In broad based participatory sports, though, this emphasis on the upper levels can easily lead to the perception that competitions at lower levels are somehow inherently less "worthy" than those that are more difficult. If going beginner novice in eventing is an entry level, then, according to this line of reasoning, it`s better to go novice, better still to ride at the training level, and transcendently better to ride at the Rolex Three Day Event. It`s harder, that`s for sure, to ride at the upper levels, but "better" is a most subjective word. I was aware of this subjectivity when I write "How Good Riders Get Good", because a good rider is simply a good rider, no more, no less. The intrinsic worth of that person is tied up in her ability to ride well ONLY if she is judged according to that narrow standard. If it matters strongly to someone to be a good rider, then it matters. If it doesn`t matter, then it doesn`t matter. Years ago, I read an article about a couple of riding instructors who were talking negatively about a not very fit, not very expert rider who they both found difficult to teach. They made the usual comments. You can well imagine those, I`m sure. A couple of days later, the young son of one of the trainers was riding his bike and was struck by a car, and it was that not so great rider, in her other role as a doctor, who saved that child`s life. Does it "matter" how good a rider someone is, in the greater scheme? Only if it matters to that individual. Apart from that, enjoy the level where you find fulfillment. And if you want to get to a higher level, by all means, struggle along, but don`t feel that anyone cares very strongly, one way or the other, except, as that old saying goes, "you and your mother."

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