ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Dressage 101: What You Need to Know

Updated on July 29, 2014

Have you ever seen a horse show wherein the riders are elegantly dressed, sitting upright that they look like cavalry men, on a beautiful and majestic horse as they perform visually stunning performances to the delight of the audience? That’s what is called dressage. It is considered a competitive equestrian sport. It is governed by the International Equestrian Federation.

Dressage is actually a French term that means ‘training’. Its original purpose was to train the horse to make him calm and comfortable in all situations, and become very attentive to its rider.

If you have seen such a performance, you will notice that the rider seems very relaxed and doesn’t show much effort as he or she provides the instructions to the horse to perform a specific movement. In the same manner that the horse will be relaxed and immediately follows the rider’s instructions as it performs the maneuver. This is why some people even call it a Horse ballet.

Is there a specific horse breed for this type of sport?

The simple answer is no. Success in dressage really depends on the ability of the trainer or the rider to train the horse. In this regards, any breed can be trained for this purpose.

The Competition

The competition is performed in a regulation sized arena. The rider and the horse must wear apparel and dressage training gear that are duly authorized by the organizers.

Depending on the country where it is played, there can be four to six lower levels of tests with the Grand Prix level as the highest in modern competition.

In every level or test, only one rider and his horse can go at it at a time. The rider and the horse must complete a sequence of dressage movements. Now each test can contain one or more movements which is called a sequential block. Then each block is given a score by the judges ranging from Not Performed to Excellent.

The three basic movements are: Walk, Trot, and Canter. The transition from one movement to another must be as smooth as possible.

There are also some advanced movements: Passage, Piaffe, Pirouette, Flying Change of Leg, and the Half-Pass.


If you are watching a dressage competition, here are some tips you should be aware of:

  • There should be consistent tempo and rhythm. The tempo of the movement should be noticeable that you can equate music to it.

  • The less you notice the rider, the better. This is more true whenever the rider is controlling or giving commands to the horse. It only means the rider and the horse are working harmoniously.

  • The horse is laser-focused. It is not a good thing if the horse suddenly becomes a bit playful or show some unintended movements. Although it is a given that not every day that a horse can be well behaved.

  • As a spectator you should be as quiet as possible. This is in respect to the competitors who are doing their movements in the arena. Dressage is a sport of concentration and utmost silence is always needed.

Where to from here?

Dressage is a spectator sport and it features a number of horse movements that are not only amazing but are a joy to watch. For this reason, the best way to know more about this sport is to watch a competition, either through videos or attending an event. Start by contacting your local equestrian or dressage organization to check on their next competition.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well done and interesting. My horsees all come with a a roping horn on the saddle ;-)

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I've never seen this before. I found your article interesting. Thank you..

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've never seen a competition in person but I have on tv, and it really is interesting and fascinating. Thanks for the primer.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)