We all remember the London Olympics of 2012 when the Dressage competition produce a high level of excitement among many watching members of the public all over the world. Dressage means training in the French language and training a horse and rider to perform a memorized set of moves to as close to perfection as possible is the ultimate aim of both horse and rider.

It is competitive, it is contagious to watch and is said to be the “highest expression of horse training” in any sport you might find. It is a sport that is performed at many levels, including amateur riders all the way up to professionals that will take part in equestrian games held with skilled performers from around the world.

To the untrained eye, many of us might ask how on earth a horse can perform so diligently and intelligently under such tough conditions and an often imposing arena. Well, look closely at the rider, and observe how relaxed they are and how much control he or she has over the mount. Then notice how the horse seems to move effortlessly in a manner that looks more like a form of equine ballet.

The immaculate performances that have been delighting audiences for centuries are the result of tests and training exercises that will have taken several weeks of preparation for both horse and rider.

The Germans and the British are often the best performing nations in dressage and the sport is often divided into six separate disciplines which are termed using the German language. Rhythm and Regularity (or Takt in German) involves the accuracy and timing of the horse and rider’s gait, and will take in account tempo, rhythm and regularity on a straight line and also on one that is curved.

The rhythm of the horse is basically down to how many footfalls the horse displays. Any walking, trotting or canter must be pure and uniform. The regularity comes from the horse’s gait. Judges will look at the horse and how proud it stands, is the chest boasting and can the horses perform that difficult task of trotting on the spot?

Dressage also looks at relaxation, or judging how loose the horse is, contact; by gauging how much the horse pulls on the rider and impulsion, which is the power and thrust at which the horse moves forward when performing in the arena.

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