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Equestrian_NSW_Yearbook_2011

Introduction to Dressage Dressage - the classical art of training horses originated in the cavalries of What do judges look for when judging? ancient Greece and Rome and its aim is to create a horse that is comfort- The basic quality a dressage judge wants to see in a horse during a able, safe and pleasurable to ride. Dressage is the basic training of all the competition is rhythm. Each horse has its own natural rhythm for walk, equestrian disciplines. trot and canter. It must not be ridden out of that rhythm during changes Competitive dressage covers several levels, from the lowest, being Pre- in movement or pace, and when the tempo increases, it must show that liminary, through to the ultimate Olympic test of harmony and gymnastic it can optimise its natural rhythm. The horse must be well balanced at grace, the Grand Prix of Dressage. all times, carrying the rider with ease. It must also be flexible so as to be As the horse progresses through the levels, it shows it understands and able to bend its whole body effortlessly around curves and on circles. can perform confidently the ever increasing degree of difficulty in the Judges look for ‘impulsion’ or the ‘power of the hindquarters’ - mean- movements it is being asked to do. Dressage judges are looking for ease ing the horse is using its body most effectively. This is shown in springy, of movement, athleticism, willingness and responsiveness to the rider. strong steps, which cover the ground without rushing. Correct training enhances the inherent power and beauty of the horse’s The rider must be relaxed and supple, comfortable in the horse’s rhythm natural movement. and subtle with the signals given to the horse, so that movements appear In Australia, Equestrian (EA) has developed a series of tests from Pre- effortless. liminary to Advanced Level. The International Tests, issued by the FEI are What type of people compete in dressage and why? executed over five levels from Prix St Georges through to the Grand Prix. Dressage has such a well-developed philosophy and such a rational ap- Freestyle to Music tests are offered at EA and FEI levels, culminating in the proach to training that it challenges people intellectually as well as being Grand Prix Freestyle. In Freestyle tests, riders choreograph their own pat- physically demanding. It is an art as well as a sport, and one of the few tern of test from a list of compulsory movements suitable for each level. sports in which men and women compete equally. A successful dressage Horses rider needs only one horse, which puts the sport within the reach of Dressage suits all types of horses, from Pony Dressage for ponies many people. It is not a sport confined to the wealthy as underneath the to the bigger horses. To compete in Official Competitions, the horse must formal-looking outfits worn in competitions, you’ll find all sorts of people, be over 3 years of age, registered with EA and have a dres-sage all joined by their love of and commitment to the sport. performance card. There are also “Associate Competitions” where the In comparison to other sports, there is no age barrier. As well as young rules allow for horses and ponies to compete that are not registered with riders, you will see many successful riders who are mothers, fathers and the EA. grand parents. Unlike some of the other equestrian disciplines, you can continue to enjoy riding dressage for pretty much as long as you can Riders climb into the saddle. To compete ‘officially’, riders must be members of the EA and 12 years of age or over. The exception is Official Pony Dressage where the rider can How can I get involved in Dressage? be 10 years of age and over. In Associate Competitions or Club Training and Member Days, the rider must be either a member of the EA or the • Join a local Dressage or Riding Club. Club conducting the event/activity. There is no age restriction on riders in • Form a relationship with a regular EA accredited Instructor. Associate Events. • Attend training days offered by your local club. How is dressage judged? • Compete at local events and take part in Club and Regional Dressage is a subjective sport, so like gymnastics, diving or figure skating, Championships dressage relies on a body of well educated & dedicated judges, who most- • Aim to qualify for State and National Championships or Young Rider ly judge as a panel, sitting in cars or booths by the side of the dressage Championships if you are a young rider arena. Grand Prix dressage at Championships utilises five judges; lower • Volunteer at your local Club to pencil for judges - the best way to level “official” tests use two or three judges, while an unofficial Preliminary learn! test may only have one judge. • Come and watch the leading riders at the bigger events. Each rider presents to the judge at their designated time, whereupon the judge rings a bell or toots the car horn, signalling the rider to enter the • Obtain a copy of the rule book and the EA dressage tests (available arena. As soon as the horse enters, the test has started and it is being on the web free of charge. www.equestrian.org.au judged. Arenas have either a grass or a sand surface and measure 60 m For more information contact: x 20 m for most tests. They have a low ‘fence’ surround, outside of which at certain points are letter markers (such as “C”, “M”, and “F”). At these Dressage NSW Inc Admin. Secretary letters the horse must perform certain movements or changes of pace PO Box 372 throughout the test. RICHMOND, NSW, 2753 While accuracy is important (as in figure skating) it is by no means the Tel: 0409 841 089 only criterion by which dressage is judged. The judge actually judges the e-mail: dnsw.admin@equestrian.org.au horse, not the rider, but it is the rider’s influence on the horse, which cre- www. dressagensw.com.au ates the end result. At the end of the test, the rider is given a mark out of Clarendon Events Secretary 10 for position, seat, hands and effectiveness. Tel: 02 4576 7996 Each movement is marked out of ten and more difficult movements have e-mail: dnsw.clarendonsec.org.au a coefficient of 2. ‘10’ means ‘Excellent’ whilst at the other end of the scale, a ‘0’ means practically none of the movement was performed. At the end, the judges’ marks are added and converted into a percentage of the total possible marks for the test www.dressagensw.com.au


Equestrian_NSW_Yearbook_2011
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