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.

What is dressage?

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.

Are there rules in dressage?

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. 

How can I prepare for a dressage competition?

You will need to ensure that you and your horse are efficient in the following areas:

  • Position - sitting correctly in the saddle will ensure that your horse responds to your movements in the right way.
  • Control - you will need to master the technique of using small movements with the reins in order to communicate with your horse. You will need to use light pressure and get them used to pats as reassurance.
  • Transitions - moving your horse from one gait to another in a seamless transition will be key to your success.
  • Rhythm - your horse should have constant rhythm throughout the competition, something that the judges will be looking very closely at. 
  • Suppleness - being able to perform fluidly is important, displaying the talent that your horse has for performing without stiffness.

What will I need to wear for dressage?

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.

Click here to browse our wide range of dressage outfits and accessories that will be perfect for your competition. 

How do I groom my horse for dressage?

In the same way as the rider, your horse will need to look presentable and tidy for the competition. You should concentrate on:

  • Cleaning the body to ensure there is no dirt or dust in the coat.
  • Use brushes, combs and products to give the coat a shiny, glossy finish.
  • Clean your horse's hooves and ensure that shoes are new and clean.
  • Wipe the face and eyes with a damp sponge.
  • You can choose to plait the mane and tail if you wish.

Click here to browse our wide range of grooming products that will help you to get your horse looking competition ready.

Good luck with your first competition! 




Post By Kimberley Roderick