What is dressage?
In modern Dressage competitions, horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements, known as ‘figures’ (volte, serpentine, figure of eight). They perform these movements in a completely flat, rectangular arena, measuring 60 x 20m. The arena is skirted by a low rail along which 12 lettered markers are placed symmetrically indicating where movements are to start and finish and where changes of pace or lead are to occur. Upon entering the arena, each rider proceeds down a marked centre line and halts to salute. The horse must stand four-square and immobile. In all competitions, the horse has to show the paces: walk, trot and canter as well as smooth transitions within and between these paces.
The tests vary in levels of difficulty between seniors, young riders, pony riders and children. The standard formula for FEI World and continental championships and the Olympic Games consists of Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle (Kur) tests; the highest level of tests. In a Freestyle test, the athlete is free to choose his own form and manner of presentation, but certain mandatory movements must be included. In all other tests the athletes follow a set programme.
A panel of five judges assess the figures, awarding each a mark from 0 to 10. Once totalled, these scores produce a percentage and the rider or team with the highest total score is declared the winner.
The Olympic Games,
FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG)
FEI Continental Championships
FEI Continental & Regional Game