Dressage (a French term meaning “training”) is one of the three Olympic equestrian sports. It is a program of creating suppleness, balancing and obedience work that prepares a horse for future pleasure-riding or competition.
It is the basic schooling of every riding horse. Under the guise of “flat work”, it is what eventer/jumper trainers do with their horses when they are not schooling over fences. Competition is open to virtually every kind and size of horse and any age of rider.
In dressage training, the natural movements a horse can make on his own, free in the pasture, are repeated as exercises. These range from simple patterns and circles at the walk, trot and canter to movements in extreme collection, such as the piaffe.
In competition, horses perform tests reflect the movements used in schooling and so, assess the horse’s correct progress towards the goals of suppleness, balance and obedience.