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?
The first thing needed is a horse with good, natural ability. Overall the horse must have 3 good clean gaits, a clean throatlach, and be build a bit uphill. Then you need a rider that is dedicated to aiming for perfection (being a little OCD helps
) to improve & enhance the natural ability of the horse.
The training of the horse should take 7 years. The rider must seek out the best instruction they can obtain. They must study the rules & memorize the objectives or focus of each level. They must be willing to commit time & money to showing at each level. These must be recognized shows, not schooling shows. This is the only way one can know that they are achiving the goals of each level before proceeding to the next.
The rider must be willing to accept instruction. The rider must understand the ultimate goals of the training. They must know the correct frame, gaits & pace for all required movements at each level. It helps to participate in the "L" judge program once one is successful thru second level. This teaches the rider how to see (judge) if the training scale has been correctly used.
At the end, the rider & horse are moving as one, they move seemingly without effort or obvious signals...the ride seems more like a dance...full of energy and grace...it is a beautiful sight to behold
But none of this means you need a $100,000 horse, or a fancy stable or unlimited funds. I was able to successfully compete with a grade QH because I am very detail oriented & he was very willing & would try his heart out. We did it on a very low budget by making sure the circles were round everytime & the departs were correct in the exact spot, etc. Very accurate riding means a lot. I discovered the upper level judges would score us higher that the lower level judges. They understood how much work & effort went into producing the results they could see.