Questions about skills and talents needed for Dressage

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Questions about skills and talents needed for Dressage

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    11-14-2010, 11:51 PM
Arrow Questions about skills and talents needed for Dressage

Hello dressage enthusiasts, I am looking for a little information for a research report for class. Would anyone be interested in answering a few interview questions for me? :) These apply to both the horse and rider.

What skills are needed to participate in Dressage?

What does it take to excel and win in this sport?

Any helpful opinions would be greatly appreciated!
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    11-15-2010, 01:16 AM
Well darn... I thought for sure there would be a lot of opinions on this. :/ oh well, I will just have to draw my own conclusions then! ^.^
    11-15-2010, 01:42 AM
Well that's because it's a very easy and very difficult question to answer. Anytime that you ride your horse you are in fact using some dressage!

There is no mystique in it, it truly is the building block and which all equitation is built.

I have just started competing, just walk/trot this year, moving up to training level next year. What skills does it need, well an open mind in both horse and rider, the ability to listen and adapt to new techniques.

I can't tell you what it takes to excel, there is no way that I'm going to excel at this, and to me it's not the point. The whole point for me is to be that little bit better in each test we ride, it's a journey of continual improvement
    11-15-2010, 01:47 AM

There are two kinds of dressage riders on this forum; ones that do it for fun and ones that are more serious about it and compete more. Do you want to hear from all kinds or just those that compete?
There are a lot of discussions on dressage on this forum , a lot of times when beginners start out all excited that they are "studying dressage". And then the experts have there opinions. There are pretty different.

If you ask me, since I don't really compete, I can only say that dressage is supposed to be about developing a horse to its' best potential with particular care to developing it's ability to carry a human rider without damaging itself. That means that a horse is by nature designed to run flat/forward, not carry a weigth that pressed down vertically on its' back. Therefore, if it add the weight of the rider (let's just say 200 lbs of human + tack for a generous estimate) and it continues to run in its natural way of "falling" forward, it will cause a more rapid breadown of the bones/ligaments and body in general.
Thus, the rider must teach the horse how to carry itself AND the rider in a way that keeps the horse balanced with this additional weight and protects its' ligaments and bones. That is dressage.
We do that by changing the horses forward energy into upward energy that pushes back against the downward weight of the rider. We must ask the horse to move with energy forward but we don't allow the energy to "fall" forward (using the reins and the seat) and train the horse to bring that energy upward, engagy his hind legs further under itself (and rider) and have longer periods of suspension.
Also, what I like about dressage is the way it teaches the rider to feel the horse, and even to the point of feeling each individual leg's movement and learn how to put those legs in just right the place. It takes a wonderful kind of focus on the horse and sensitivity to the slightest "try" that the horse will make. Afterall, its "dressge" , which means "training".
    11-15-2010, 01:58 AM
Good points there, I should have been a bit more specific, though all experiences and opinions are welcome.

I am curious what factors play into the ultimate horse and rider dressage team. What characteristic of both help to create the special situation that can yield champions? Is the breeding of the horse most important? The rider's ability to become one with the horse? What makes a winning team?

Or to make it simple, what things are necessary for a horse and rider to have in order to have a hope of achieving success in the dressage ring?
    11-15-2010, 09:14 AM
What makes a winning team. In the nutshell ...a serious and exclusive focus to the virtual exclusion of all else will make a winning team.This is where most wannabe's fail.

Now I am referring to a "team" that wants to do serious competitive dressage.
    11-15-2010, 09:14 AM
For a horse and rider combination to be truly successful in the dressage arena, both must be sensitive and responsive. The rider should be able to feel every ounce of tension in the horses body and be able to pin point where it is, then be able to unblock that tension and turn it into relaxation. The should have total 'feeling' with the horse, be able to apply an aid that results in an immediate and correct response from the horse, without having to use more than the smallest of movements or shifts in weight to achieve that response.
The horse needs to be sensitive, responsive and willing, with a trainable attitude. Breeding does play a big role, as horses that are naturally uphill, short coupled with strong backs and large, open joints that will bend and flex allowing the horse to come into collection. There are some 'diamonds in the rough' horses that have not been bred for dressage that are successful, but overall the most successful horses are those that have been bred specifically for dressage.
    11-15-2010, 09:15 AM
A lot of sparkle and some warmblood.

There was a famous statement regarding dressage horses and international competition. Asked when the Americans would do as well in dressage as the europeans on the world stage, the european replied, "When you have our horses." Meaning warmbloods -- oldenburgs, hanoverians, westphalians, dutch warmbloods, etc. A good dressage horse will be "built uphill" -- his withers will be higher than his rump -- so he can motor from behind.

All things being equal, the most telling thing is his attitude. Dressage is about a lot of things, but especially how a horse carries himself. Pride (vanity!) and a desire to compete and show off is essential. No horse will do well in high levels of any type of competition unless he loves his job.

Let it be known that I ride a thoroughbred. I'm not aiming to show on the circuit and I think the best horse is the horse you love.
    11-15-2010, 10:00 AM
Originally Posted by Raidress    

What skills are needed to participate in Dressage?

What does it take to excel and win in this sport?
Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice.... Plus a very good trainer!

I'm not sure about right mind/confo. As it was mentioned plenty of times even not-dressage-confo horse can show (and win) on low level events. Mind probably yes (to succeed).
    11-15-2010, 02:57 PM
Originally Posted by Raidress    
Hello dressage enthusiasts, I am looking for a little information for a research report for class. Would anyone be interested in answering a few interview questions for me? :) These apply to both the horse and rider.

What skills are needed to participate in Dressage?

What does it take to excel and win in this sport?

Any helpful opinions would be greatly appreciated!
Extreme dedication

For most people, in order to become a world class dressage rider, one must travel to Europe, Florida or California with at least one quality, upper level horse. From there they must ride each of these horses every day under supervision. Beyond that it is crucial for the horses to remain sound and healthy through some cross training, many veterinary visits and an extremely balanced diet. For the rider it is also important to stay fit off of the horse by doing pilates and yoga and eating right.

The training is extremely rigorous. Costs can easily exceed $10,000 a month and if you are out of your home country, income is nil. Your entire day is focused towards dressage and horse care. There is no such thing as a "day off".

For people like me who are not at the point where they can commit to such a level of training, the same principles apply. I only have one horse and live 3 hours away from my coach. I get training whenever possible but otherwise am on my own - meaning I need to find motivation myself.
I work 45 - 50 hours a week, have a job cleaning stalls at the barn on Sundays and am at the barn every day training my horse. Recently I have started riding another horse twice a week. I also go to the gym once a week. From there my horse is seen by a farrier every 6 weeks and by a vet and massage therapist every 12-16 weeks.

It's not easy, but it is rewarding! You really have to love horses and love the sport.

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