"Dressage is our passion!"
What is dressage?
Western Dressage is a recently introduced equine sport and follows the principles of classical dressage training.
The goal of Western Dressage is to develop a partnership between a happy equine athlete working in harmony with his rider. A system of progressive training produces a horse that is physically strong, balanced, supple, and flexible; this equine athlete also demonstrates a calm, confident, attentive attitude and is happy to do his job.
A Western Dressage horse achieves this goal by using the principles of classical dressage training while emphasizing the lightness and harmony with the rider which is a hallmark of a Western Dressage horse.
The Western Dressage horse demonstrates free flowing, comfortable strides. The gaits are free, regular in cadence and rhythm, consistent in speed and tempo. The horse presents a balanced appearance.
The Western Dressage horse’s head and neck are carried in a relaxed, natural manner; head and neck carriage are dictated by conformation and serve as a balance arm to facilitate proper movement.
The Western Dressage horse engages his hindquarters; uses his back freely; and lifts his forehand. These characteristics of framing and movement are more pronounced as the horse advances in his training and development.
The Western Dressage horse carries his body in a straight line when required by the maneuvers of the test; the Western Dressage horse carries himself in a consistent curve whose degree of bend is consistent throughout a movement that calls for a curve. The straightness or bend is consistent throughout the horse’s body and is dictated by the requirements of the maneuver being performed.
Lightness and harmony are the hallmarks of the Western Dressage horse; he willingly accepts a light contact on the bit without tension or resistance. He gives the appearance of performing the requested gaits and maneuvers of his own accord. The horse and rider appear as one
For more information visit: Western Dressage Association
" When I ride I first like to place myself somewhere. "Placing myself means that somehow with this living being I can build a unity, as good a one
as possible. That's what I think of, that I get into the movement of the horse, but I do not disturb the apparatus of movement; instead, I, through my aids,
give wings to the horse to move in a more beautiful way." -Klaus Balkenhol
Modern dressage as an equestrian sport defined by the International Equestrian Federation, dressage is "the highest expression of horse training" where "horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements", otherwise known as a test. However dressage has acient roots throughout history dating as far back as 430–354 BC in the writings of the Greek Xenophon. Much of our current dressage training is still based on these classical dressage standards.
In today's modern competition dressage era the ultimate goal of the training is to compete at the various levels. Which in the United States are Intro, Training, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Prix St. George, Intermediare-1, Intermediare-2 and the Grand Prix. It takes many years for horse and rider to learn and develop at each level. Dressage competitions are help on local levels, nationally and internationally , and are a part of the Olympics at the Grand Prix level.
The USDF trains according to a training scale:
Rhythm: This is the regularity of the horses individuals gaits. The walk should have a 4 beat rhythm, the trot 2 beats and the canter 3 beats. It is of utmost importance that these basics be established throughout transitions, changes of direction and lateral movement.
Suppleness: Also known as looseness is an essential quality to develop in the early stages of training. The goal is for the horse to be working through it's back with ease and lack of tension. This also allows for the the horses to be willing in their mind to work and trust in their rider completely. When a horses can stretch forward and downwards (long and low) and show swing it is becoming supple.
Connection: This is the acceptance of the bit and aids. With the two previous steps achieved a connection to the bit should come naturally and now we can work to develop more thrust from behind and introduce the next steps in the training scale.
Impulsion: Increasing the thrust and and energy in the horse's gaits. Good impulsion happens when the horse's hocks are carried energetically forwards and upwards immediately after the feet leave the ground. The rider can utlilise this new found power with the previously established suppleness to increase the suspension in the trot and increase the "jump" in the canter.
Straightness: Straightening a horses is anon going process that must have continually worked on. Straightness is achieved when the weight of the horse is distributed evenly on both halves of the body, A horse a straight when the forehand is in line with it's hindquarters.
Collection: Lastly collection is the culmination of all of the previous steps. Allowing the horse to truly distribute it's weight evenly on all four legs by transferring the weight off of the forelimbs and onto the hind legs.We see an increase in engagement and in self-carriage.
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