If you enjoy riding and are ready to take it to the next step, a trot into dressage could be for you! The sport has been around in some shape or form for centuries, having been first recorded in Greece around 2000 years ago. The activity has certainly changed and been refined since then, to a point where it is now accessible for everyone who wishes to take part for fun or for competition purposes.
There are dressage competitions for every age and ability, so you can take it as far as you wish to. Learning to control your horse in such intricate ways is a great skill to have and can also help to create a bond that will bring you closer together. Any breed of horse can take part in dressage, with the training helping to improve other areas of their behaviour on a day to day basis.
A French word that is roughly translated as training, dressage is an activity where horse and rider work together to carry out a series of controlled movements, to be judged by a panel on accuracy, obedience and the flawless nature of the tasks carried out. Depending on the competition you would like to enter, there may be requirements to be a member of a pony club or other official group. This may determine the rules that you need to follow in order to enter a certain class. The levels range from introductory walking up to advanced performance and everything in between, so you will be able to progress as both you and your horse gain more skills and improve in each field.
Once you enter a dressage competition you should receive a guide book from the event organiser, which will inform you of any rules that are specific to them. These rules can cover areas of saddlery, tack and dress, so should be followed very closely in order to avoid a penalty in scoring.
You will need to ensure that you and your horse are efficient in the following areas:
The rider's appearance is just as important as the horses. You will be expected to wear a traditional outfit that is appropriate for the competition, with an ironed white shirt, riding gloves, light coloured jodhpurs, black or brown dress riding boots, a riding jacket and a shirt or stock tie.
In the same way as the rider, your horse will need to look presentable and tidy for the competition. You should concentrate on:
Good luck with your first competition!