Classical Dressage - is the traditional form of dressage, in dressage tack and attire or academic attire! Horses who earn Walk Trot to 6th degree are granted the permanent title of Lifetime Champion.
Veteran Dressage - open to horses 15+ years as an option! AND OR riders 40+ years as an option. This is done to support the longevity of the classical horse, who may suffer from a malady or most commonly is arthritis. As well, this type of dressage is aimed at riders, who through the trials of life are also struggling with medical conditions and stress. Any time a veteran test is needed to complete an award, the term Veteran is granted instead of Classical. Horses who earn Walk Trot to 6th degree, with at least one test being a veteran test, are granted the permanent title of Vintage Champion. Veteran tests are a bit shorter, with optional canter work, but still have all the same lateral work as per degree. Attire may be academic or traditional.
Western Dressage - open to horse and riders in western tack and attire, attire may be academic as well. There are slightly different tests where the horse is still moving forward, with development of impulsion coming from the haunch, however the gaits are not as dramatic as they are in Classical and Veteran Dressage. Levels Walk Jog, Three Gait (Demi°), Pre-Lateral (1st°), Lateral I (2nd°), and Lateral II (3rd°).
Gaited Dressage - open to horses with an intermediate gait of 4 beats, rather than the 2 beat trot. There are appropriate tests. Levels I, II, III, and IV. Tack is traditional dressage, but attire may be dressage or academic.
Modern Dressage - open to horse and rider combinations who want to try more competitive dressage with slight differences between the classical. Modern terms are used. Levels I, II, III, and IV. Tack and attire must be dressage.
Natural Dressage - open to horse and rider combinations who want to try bareback and bitless (Micklem without the bit, Sidepull, or similar headstalls, but cross unders are stricktly prohibited) or bridleless. Levels I, II, III, and IV. Attire may be dressage or academic.
Kurs - are musical freestyles. Course credit: 1 score of 55+% for any 4 kurs in either Classical, Veteran, and Western only. You are automatically entered as soon as you have a qualifying score for the specific degree and type of dressage. Do you want to have fun and ride to music? Horse and rider combination must have previously scored a 55+% in any of the tests of that degree/level that the kur is being ridden in. Special Kur ribbons will also be awarded for each kur ridden and passed, as well as the other incentive ribbons awarded.
Dressage Walk Trot
(also called Introductory Level/ Walk Trot)
This is an excellent beginning class. The gaits are Medium Walk, Free Walk and Working Trot. The horses get used to 20 meter circles.
Tests are Test 1 and Test 2.
Western Dressage Walk Jog and
Gaited Dressage, Natural Dressage and Modern Dressage
(also called Training Level/ Preliminary/ E/ B)
This is a basic class. Gaits are Medium Walk, Free Walk, Working Trot and Working Canter. In test 4, the horse is asked to stretch down and forward in a circle.
Tests are Test 3 and Test 4.
Western Dressage - 3 Gaits
Veteran Dressage Demi°, Gaited Dressage, Modern Dressage and Natural Dressage
(also called First Level/ Novice/ A/ L)
The horse must be working with a level to uphill top-line and has good working gaits. The lengthened stride is also called for. Horses canter the 15 meter circle and are also asked to leg yield.
Tests are 5 and 6.
Western Dressage Pre-Lateral
Veteran Dressage 1st, Gaited Dressage, Modern Dressage and Natural Dressage
(also called Second Level/ Elementary/ L/ M)
This is the start of lateral work. The horse must canter voltes, perform the plié, the renvers/travers, the passade. The turn on the haunches is started. Gaits are Medium and Collected.
Tests are 7 and 8.
Western Dressage Lateral I
Veteran Dressage 2nd°, Gaited Dressage, Natural Dressage and Modern Dressage
(also called Third Level/ Medium/ M/ Z)
Gaits are Medium and Extended. The horse is also asked to perform the quarter and half pirouette, half pass and flying change.
Tests are 9 and 10.
Western Dressage Lateral II and
Veteran Dressage 3rd°, Natural Dressage and Modern Dressage
(also called Fourth Level/ Advanced Medium/ R/ ZZ)
The gaits are the same. The horse is also asked to show uberstreichen at the canter circle, canter half pirouette and 3 flying changes suggested every 4th stride.
Tests are 11 & 12.
Includes Veteran Dressage 4th°, Natural Dressage and Modern Dressage
Classical Dressage 5th°
(also called Upper Level/ ZZ)
The horse must show excellent collection and extension ability. The horse must also develop the ability to do tempi changes with optional 2, 3, and 4 time. Canter working pirouettes are required.
Tests are 13 & 14.
Includes Veteran Dressage 5th°
Classical Dressage 6th°
(also called Upper levels/ Advanced/ S/ ZZZ)
The horse must show complete collection and extension ability. The horse must also develop the ability to do single tempi changes. The Airs of Manège are performed, including pirouette, natural passage, soft passage and passage. The piaffe is developed up to 10-12 steps. Tempis are 5, 7, 9 and 11 with optional 1 or 2 time.
Tests are 15 & 16.
Includes Veteran Dressage 6th°
Video your test/pattern and send it in or upload it for grading and comments (like a riding lesson & a show). Ride and Earn awards. There is more information upon becoming a member and registering in whichever class. There are incentives ribbons based on scores, as well as many other awards.
1. Be a member
2. Register in the correct course
3. Videotape your test and upload it or send it in
Principles of the Dressage horse - Because dressage training is systemic and sequential, the horse will look more polished and elegant over time. He does what is required and by his own free will without any resistance, submitting to his rider, without hesitation, remaining straight in all movements on a straight and balanced throughout tracking, movements, gaits and paces His gaits are free, supple, active and but not restricted or tense. The canter is united, light and cadenced. The quarters never are inactive or sluggish. He responds to slightest cue of rider and looks lively, spirited body shows impulsion, supple joints. He responds to various aids calmly and with precision, displaying natural and harmonious balance- physically and mentally. He is always on the bit, meaning his neck is more or less raised and arched accordingly to stage of training and extension or collection of the pace. He also accepts the bridle with light and soft contact, holding his head in a steady position, slightly in front of the vertical and with a supple poll. His gaits are rhythmic and maintained in all different exercises and variations of paces.
ATTENTION RIDERS - A change that we added to the program is that riders do not need to wear formal wear. Performing in Classical Dressage is considered to be still academic in a way that it is setting up the basis for all other disciplines, however the testing is still considered for performance evaluations as it can be its own discipline. If a rider chooses to wear academic wear, it is advised that he or she wears white, or light and solid colored breeches, tall boots, a shirt with a collar, such as a golf type of shirt, and gloves. A helmet is mandatory for children in all degrees and for adults in walk trot to 2nd degree. The best color of shirt to wear is white, black or navy as navy is our school color. Black and white are always neutral. As for the breeches, dark colors are now permitted without penalty.
As for the horse turn-out, they do not have to be as polished as they are in the competitive ring, however they must be clean and tidy.
Rider IV or that have completed Rider IV may opt to use a dressage whip in their video tests. Polo wraps are optional, but should be white if used.
TRYING TO PUT THE CLASSICAL BACK INTO MODERN/COMPETITIVE DRESSAGE
Charles de Kunffy wrote some wonderful tips for riders to try and keep their riding as classical as possible.
First of all, he states that the rider needs to focus on the horse and not entirely on the movement. Dressage should present a picture of horse and rider harmony and ease.
The horse should be warmed up properly and still remain fresh. A proper warm-up for a horse should be around 15 minutes however, upper level horses may require longer. The warm-up should consist of three different phases with brief rests in between. The first phase is designed to have many changes of direction to allow the horse to shift his weight and loosen. Patterns are circles, diagonals and serpentines. The next phase is the gymnastic suppling of the horse. This can be achieved by lengthening and shortening the strides. The end result is getting the horse to focus on aids and to engage the quarters. The final part of the warm-up is the review and perfection of exercises. This phase is more for the rider’s benefit than the horses. The rider needs to execute his ride correctly. But remember; avoid OVER-DOING a movement of exercise. Exhausting a horse to perform movements is never classical but clear evidence that there is miscommunication between horse and rider and the rider needs help for correction and the horse needs more training.
The rider should have control of the horse to perform precise riding but should never sacrifice suppleness and calmness. The letters are only guidelines. In order to perform the ride accurately, riders need to prepare for upcoming movements.
Classical vs. Competitive Dressage
“Creating a Classical Mindset”
Keeping a classical mindset in today’s society is not an easy concept. We are constantly bombarded by viewpoints depicting the most for your dollar in the shortest as soon as possible. This could not be more detrimental for the horse. The purpose of classical dressage is not to promote the need to for doing the FEI tests as fast as possible, even though that is a dream for most riders. The goal should be on developing the horse as fast and as solid as the horse can handle it without undue stress and forceful training methods that offer quick fixes at the sake of the horse.
This is hard to do when in the competition ring. There is only room at the top for one horse and rider. This puts a lot of stress on the riders striving to be the best in the ring and unfortunately, it is the horse that starts to suffer.
First of all, dressage was originally designed for mot any type of horse, regardless of conformation, to be developed through the systemic training program which inevitably produces sound horses. At the classical peak riders were quiet and soft, while the horses were happy and relaxed, enjoying the dance between horse and rider. The gymnastic exercises are designed to create sleek, athletic looking horses that are do not have an overabundance of muscling. Horses needed to have longevity and stamina, therefor horses with too much muscling tired faster and had more trouble doing the gymnastics.
But then something different happened. Horses were no longer needed, just wanted among those who have the passion for riding and those who have money. Money changes everything. Horses with aesthetic beauty and incredible animation are cleaning up in the competitive ring. Trainers are being forced to push faster and start their horses in second or even third level, bypassing all of the lower levels. Horses are being pushed for the incredible score of ten for each and every movement. Just as gymkhana horse are ‘hyped’ up before a ride, dressage horses are also being ‘hyped’ in order to achieve more expression, even if it is starting to cause resistance. Animation and muscle tension are becoming the fashion in the dressage arena. Riders need to go back to the drawing board, slow done and get the job done right. After all, there’re is nothing more beautiful to watch than a happy horse carrying his rider in a harmonious and pleasant atmosphere one hundred percent of the time.
Ask yourself, why are you riding your horse?
Dressage is French "progressive training"
No one knows for sure just how the letters came from, as they appeared all of a sudden in the public eye for the Olympics, but how were they chosen? One theory suggests that they are the letters of the first cities that Ancient Rome conquered. The German cavalry had a space used for riding that was in between the barracks. There were letters above the doors. In the old German Imperial court, courtiers or grooms would represent dignitaries and would hold the horses in preparation for riding in a strict order of ranking which follows: K = Kaiser or King or Emperor, F = First Prince, P = Pferdknecht/Ostler or groom, V = Vassal, E = Edeling/Ehrengast/Guest of Honor, B = Bannertrager/Standard Bearer, S = Schzkanzier/Chancellor of the Exchequer, R = Ritter/Knight, M = Meier/Steward and H = Hofsmarshaller/Lord Chancellor
PERFECTING MUSICAL FREESTYLES
6th° has added piaffe pirouettes, passage half pass and half passes in to and out of canter pirouettes, but the horse must be straight for a few strides before and after the pirouette. Take special note of the movements as they may not count as compulsory movements if they are uniquely done. If carefully done they add to the choreography mark as well. More difficult movements can be repeated but not overdone, such as anything more than a double pirouette. Movements like more sequences of changes or on a curved line or from 2-time to 1-time, more piaffe steps, double pirouettes, steep half passes with changes increase the difficulty factor. Other combinations like the canter to passage to canter, and the extended trot to piaffe, and the extended canter to pirouette, and the half pass trot into a half pass passage, and likewise movements are very difficult to perform well. Airs above the ground are prohibited. Counter-canter, medium walk, rein-back, travers, renvers, and pirouettes that lead into a walk or halt or only done for harmony and the choreography.