Equestrian is a broad term used to refer to sporting disciplines performed on horseback. Dressage is one such event and is one among three equestrian events in the Olympic roster, alongside eventing and show jumping.
INDIA WON GOLD IN THE 2023 ASIAN GAMES, IN TEAM DRESSAGE
Sports on horseback were a product of equine use in war and its roots can be traced to ancient Greece. One of the core principles of equestrian is harmony and synergy between rider and steed, a key component for the efficacy of cavalry in any army. Dressage came up, therefore, as a form of ‘training’.
A standout feature of equestrian sports is that men and women participate in one bracket.
What does dressage involve?
Dressage is a routine which involves the rider and horse ‘performing’ predetermined set of movements from memory within a standard arena. Dressage is believed to be the highest form of horse training and riding as it requires immaculate coordination between rider and animal. Dressage routines are set to music and judges evaluate the fluidity and ease with which the routine is performed. Agility, technique and coordination form the core of dressage.
At the international level, dressage tests governed by the FEI (Fédération Équestre Internationale) are the Prix St. Georges, Intermediare I, Intermediare II, and Grand Prix. The dressage tests performed at the Olympic Games dressage competition are Grand Prix. This level of test demands the most skill and concentration from both horse and rider.
How is dressage evaluated? What should the rider and horse do in dressage?
Piaffe: An elevated trot in place, no backward movement allowed, small forward steps to maintain rhythm is allowed but movement to be isolated to one spot
Passage: A trot with pauses
Collected gaits (trot and canter): A shortening of stride in which the horse brings its hindquarters more underneath himself and carries more weight on his hind end. The tempo does not change, the horse simply shortens and elevates his stride.
Flying changes in sequence: Informally called “tempis” or “tempi changes” at this level, The horse changes leads at the canter every stride (one time tempis or “oneseys”), two strides (two time tempis), three strides or four strides.
Pirouette: A 360 degree turn in place, usually performed at the canter.
Half-pass: A movement where the horse goes on a diagonal, moving sideways and forward at the same time, while bent slightly in the direction of movement
Horse specifics: What kind of horses are used in dressage?
Dressage usually prefers the use of warmblood horses, even though this is not a compulsion. Warmblood horses were bred by crossing hot-blooded horses (thoroughbreds - known for their liveliness, speed and emotions, used primarily in racing) and draught horses (heavier horses bred to work, have gentle temperaments).
Equestrian sports involve a lot of styling of the horse. It is not a discipline compulsion but the ‘turnout’ of the horse is as carefully looked at as other areas. Horses need to be neatly styled, their manes are often braided and quarter marks (patterns on the skin made by combing the coat in different directions) are all common elements seen. The decorative elements should not distract the horse though.
INDIA’S MEDALLISTS IN EQUESTRIAN AT THE ASIAN GAMES
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