A Different Kind of Dance


Country MoonThere are many different forms of art. Personally, for something to be considered art to me it only has to be beautiful; something that brings a sense of peace, tranquility and awe. One of these things I consider beautiful is the art of dressage, or as some refer to it, horse dancing.

Dressage is defined by the International Equestrian Federation as “the highest expression of horse training where horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.” It is also sometimes referred to as “horse ballet,” and rightfully so. All the movements in dressage seem to flow in sequence and, if performed properly, it seems as horse and rider are one.

For centuries horses have symbolized a unique kind of freedom and untamed beauty that some cultures have called God-like.

Although truly an art, dressage has also been perceived as the sport of the elite. Everything takes money to pursue, but dressage can rack up the costs pretty fast. Just the average annual cost to own a dressage horse is roughly $4,000 and this does not include travel, competition, and training costs.

Dressage can usually be divided into two groups: competition and classical. Both require extensive training for both horse and rider, although the training for each kind is totally different. The word “dressage” is a French term meaning “training.” Either way, it is a highly skilled form of riding performed in exhibition and competition and sometimes as an art, performed solely for its mastery of techniques.

Competition dressage is held from amateur to Olympic to World Equestrian Game levels. For these, the fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to perform. The ultimate goal is to have the horse perform smoothly to minimal aids from the rider, have the rider relaxed, and have the horse perform the requested movements almost naturally. This is accomplished through successful training at different levels and judges rate horses and rider on a series of tests for these different levels.

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