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International Riding Academy

~~~~~~~~~~~~"Enlightened Equestrian Education"~~~~~~~~~~~~~

               Classical Performance (Dressage is progressive training)

Videos due in by November 1, February 1, May 1, August 1
Register in a degree (level) and it includes: 
  • Classical Dressage, 
  • Veteran Dressage, 
  • Western Dressage,
  • Modern Dressage,
  • Natural Dressage, 
  • Gaited Dressage, and
  • Kurs (Musical Freestyles). 
Horse & Rider combination may ride 2 consecutive degrees (levels)/ performance testing evaluation
There are 2 tests in each degree (level).
Completion of 2 scores of 55+% in each test of a degree (level). 
Register (once per lifetime)/degree (level) and receive the informative DVD.
Certification in granted to horse and riders receving 2 scores of 60+% in each test of a type degree (level).
For title in a degree and type to appear on the horse's Certificate of Achievement, the horse needs certification of that degree and type of dressage. Note: Classical Dressage can be put towards Veteran Dressage.
The first test of a degree is considered an introduction. The second test is more advanced.

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. 

  
  
  
   
   
   
  
   
   
   

Includes Western Dressage Lateral I 
Includes Western Dressage Lateral I 

               PHASE 1: Basic Campaign Horse - Bronze Medal Courses

 Dressage Walk Trot
(also called Introductory Level/ Walk Trot)
2.0 credits 
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.
Includes
Western Dressage Walk Jog and
Gaited Dressage, Natural Dressage and Modern Dressage
Walk Trot
Type
 
 Dressage Demi°
(also called Training Level/ Preliminary/ E/ B)
2.0 credits
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.
Includes
Western Dressage - 3 Gaits
Veteran Dressage Demi°, Gaited Dressage, Modern Dressage and Natural Dressage 
Demi Degree
Type
 
 Dressage 1st°
(also called First Level/ Novice/ A/ L) 
2.0 credits
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.
Includes
Western Dressage Pre-Lateral
Veteran Dressage 1st, Gaited Dressage, Modern Dressage and Natural Dressage
1st Degree
Type
1st degree (First Level/Novice/A/L)
1st degree (First Level/Novice/A/L)

                     Phase 2: Medium Campaign Horse - Silver Medal Courses

Dressage 2nd°
(also called Second Level/ Elementary/ L/ M)
2.5 credits
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.
Includes
Western Dressage Lateral I
Veteran Dressage 2nd°, Gaited Dressage, Natural Dressage and Modern Dressage

2nd Degree
Type
 
 Dressage 3rd°
(also called Third Level/ Medium/ M/ Z)
2.5 credits
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.
Includes
Western Dressage Lateral II and
Veteran Dressage 3rd°, Natural Dressage and Modern Dressage

3rd Degree
Type
 

 Dressage 4th°
(also called Fourth Level/ Advanced Medium/ R/ ZZ)
2.5 credits
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

4th Degree

3rd degree (Third Level/Medium/M/Z)
3rd degree (Third Level/Medium/M/Z)
3rd degree (Third Level/Medium/M/Z)
3rd degree (Third Level/Medium/M/Z)

                    Phase 3: Advanced Campaign Horse - Gold Medal Courses

Classical Dressage 5th°
(also called Upper Level/ ZZ)  
3.0 credits
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°
 
5th Degree

 

 Classical Dressage 6th°
(also called Upper levels/ Advanced/ S/ ZZZ)
3.0 credits
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°
6th Degree
 
 

 

Includes Veteran Dressage 5th Degree 
Includes Veteran Dressage 5th Degree 
Includes Veteran Dressage 5th Degree 


You must be a current member

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.

Getting Started:

1. Be a member

2. Register in the correct course

3. Videotape your test and upload it or send it in

Classical Dressage

​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"

What is Dressage?
Dressage simply means to train. The origins of training are based upon hundreds of years of trial and error of classical horsemanship. As early as 400 B.C. Xenophon coined “Horsemanship” which developed through the Middle Ages and especially during the Renaissance. It was not truly refined until the times of riding academies and military training. Over time dressage has come to mean progressive training in steps, which is a science and an art form, to increase the longevity of the horse. Only the strategies which produce a horse and rider working in a harmonious team should be used. These training recommendations from the historical masters can be put into a grouping of systemic levels, where the common denominator is to develop balance and harmony without discomfort or injury to either the horse or the rider. Through gymnastic exercises and athletic development, the horse’s natural potential can be fulfilled. The end result is a harmonious tranquility with the appearance of the rider being merely an extension of the horse as the two move together as if one spirit. In fact, the fine communication between the pair will become so subtle that the horse can be misinterpreted to be performing on his own without any cues and aids. This has become the goal of all horsemen.
Dressage is a foundation discipline, where if the athletic development and training of the horse are correctly executed using the age-old principles. The horse will be able to carry on easily into all other disciplines. Therefore, the training is considered to be basic training of the horse. The development of the horse’s physique will increase the horse’s ability to perform and longevity. His loose and supple musculature will create balance, strength and flexibility that will increase his accuracy beyond comparison. His confidence will make him attentive and keen to work. This will make him a calm and pleasant mount, where he will be light on the forehand, move freely, engage his quarters and accept the bit while he floats across the ground. This spectacular movement will seem like a ballet. The horse and rider will perform many lateral movements in collected and extended frames. It is “heavenly horsemanship”.
 
Where do the Letters come from?

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
The purpose of the Kür is to allow creative freedom for the rider to demonstrate abilities, talent and the have them enhanced with music. It is up to the rider to prepare a well ridden test that has choreography and appropriate music, which can be inventive and artistic, but must stay within the boundaries for each stage and degree of riding. The training scale must never be compromised. It needs to have harmony and fluency throughout. The elements of the test should impressively interact with the exercises shown in the Kür. The elements that raise the difficulty level should be positively rewarded if complemented well with the music.
The technical marks are based on the degree’s elements throughout the test. If they are ridden more than once, they will be averaged at the end, allowing room for mistakes to be minimized and the score to be raised.
There are five special marks for the artistic aspect of the performance. Coefficients make some movement more vital. Timing does not start until just after the first salute and ends with the last salute. Any movements performed after the time allotment, are not judged. The artistic marks are very important, and rely on the technical performance, so the two are linked closely together.
The rhythm, energy and elasticity mark is similar to what the paces and impulsion mark would be on a regular test. The harmony of horse and rider mark is similar to the submission and riders scores of a regular test. The choreography and use of arena mark is reflected on the technical performance, the inventiveness and structure. Any disturbances, disobedient and resistance is penalized here. The Kür should be original, attractive in set-up and may even have surprising movements with the list of degree required elements. It still needs the classical criteria and nothing should be exaggerated or overdone. It should not be too close to the regular tests. It can be dramatic, with quiet phases and end with a dramatic and challenging finish. The entire arena should be used in an imaginative way with a symmetry and balance of movements on both reins throughout. Difficult movements should have an emphasis but not be overdone either. Too much repetition reduces this score. Too many transitions and changes of pace as also detrimental. More difficult movements help with the choreography if effectively done. Movements should be more designed facing ‘C’ rather than away as the evaluator/judge does not want to look at the horse’s tail repeatedly. The degree of difficulty is raised by coefficient exercises emphasized and repeated but not overdone, using more inner lines rather than the outside track, movements executed in unique places, such as very middle, in front of the rail, in front of the video camera and in time to the music or dramatic pause in music. As well the combination of movements can also become more increasingly difficult and demanding to perform. Even performing the movements with one hand is more difficult, although it can only be done four times and not in 2nd° and lower. The movements must be performed well and well-calculated as obvious mistakes, whether poorly calculated or too demanding for the horse is detrimental to this score. An easier test ridden well score better overall than a harder test ridden poorly.
The music and interpretation mark is relatively independent of the other marks and but influenced by the performance. It should be visually impressive as well as have a pleasing acoustic effect. The music matches the gaits, paces, transitions, changes, and combinations. The music should be complementary and not contradictory to the natural movement of the horse and the choreography. High notes and low ones can be synchronized with different movements, gaits, paces and so on. The music itself should match in range and not vary too much among type so as to create a clash and lack of rhythm. Sometimes strong vocal music can be distracting. It should have a common style that seems to match the horse’s gaits.
In the beginning of the test, the music can play for no longer than twenty seconds to create a dramatic effect. The music should end with an impressive note at the final salute for a better score. Music that fades out is not as impressive. Music with a strong, powerful beat should only be used with bigger horses that naturally have a strong, powerful stride or with light horses that have good impulsion. Smaller horses should have lighter music that seems to match their character. The natural tempo should be matched. If the music’s tempo is too strong and powerful, the horse will struggle to keep up to it. The music’s time signature is what determines if it matches the horse are not. Rock and swing type jazz music seem to mostly have 4 beats in each bar, and Waltzes usually have three beats, however both may have the same tempo. The horse’s hooves should hit the ground with each of the beats. Music without varied beats may not be suitable. Slower music is best for the walk. The best music choices are pieces that have their own story with a beginning, middle and a strong ending. 
The degree of difficulty mark relates more to the technical performance than to choreography and arena usage. If the technical elements are not performed well it can be reflected. It can be raised by coefficient exercises emphasized and repeated but not overdone, using more inner lines rather than the outside track, movements executed in unique places, such as the very middle, in front of the rail, in front of the video camera and in time to the music or dramatic pause in music. As well, the combination of movements can also become increasingly difficult and demanding to perform. Performing with one hand is more difficult, but it can only be done four times and not in 2nd° or lower. The movements must be performed well and well-calculated as obvious mistakes, whether poorly calculated or too demanding for the horse is detrimental to this score. An easier test ridden well will score better overall than a harder test ridden poorly. To increase the score:
Walk/Trot do not have a lot of movements, but some things that may help are to stay away from the outside track, perform circles and half circles, ride a serpentine, turn on the forehand, give and retake the reins, but never canter!
Demi° is similar but some things that may help are to stay away from the outside track, perform circles and half circles, ride a serpentine, stretch the trot, turn on the forehand, give and retake the reins and also to change the leg through the trot is more difficult and allowed, but must not be done through the walk or by flying change. Also the lengthened, medium and extended paces are prohibited as well as the counter canter and the rein-back.
1st° is better with circles, half circles, giving and retaking of the reins, steeper angles of leg yield, stretching the trot and performing more lengthened trot and canter work. Changes of leg through trot is more difficult and allowed, but must not be done through the walk, flying change or canter to halt. The counter canter is allowed but can become detrimental. Lateral moves are prohibited.
2nd° is more difficult with rein-backs, counter-canter, circles, half circles, giving and retaking of the reins, stretching the trot or canter, and turns on the haunches. The plié on quarter-lines or centerline and change down the line from left to right plié continuously help. The same can be for the travers and renvers. Sections of medium trot and medium canter aid in increasing the difficulty. Counter-cantering on curves as well as a simple change into the counter-canter are harder.
3rd° can have the plié on the quarter-lines or centerline and change down the line from left to right plié continuously, steeper diagonals of half pass in trot and canter, changes of bend in half pass but only be done at trot all help. Also, counter-cantering in smaller curves, and short, consecutive sections of medium trot are harder. The combination of medium trot to plié or half pass is more difficult; just as the medium canter to counter canter is. Flying changes away from the rail are best on a straight line or on centerline. A flying change into a counter-canter is difficult for this degree. Also, up to four one-handed movements prove the horse’s training surpasses the degree’s difficulty score.
4th° can have plié on quarter-lines or the centerline and change down the line from left to right plié continuously. Steeper diagonals of half pass in trot or canter with changes of bend help. Counter-cantering in smaller curves adds difficulty as it is not required. Short but consecutive sections of extended trot are harder. Also the combination of extended trot to plié or half pass is more difficult; just as the extended canter to counter canter is, or a flying change into a counter-canter is. Flying changes not on a straight line is far more difficult, especially if done on a solid curve or arc of a circle. Also, up to four one-handed movements prove the horse’s training surpasses the degree’s difficulty score.
5th° should have more changes than five every second or third stride, which should not be on a straight line. Steeper diagonals of the half pass in trot and canter with changes of bend help. Counter-cantering in tight turns are very difficult, especially when staying in perfect balance. An extended canter followed by a pirouette is a great deal more difficult. Varied sections of the paces, such as extensions, help add interest. Also, up to four one-handed movements prove the horse’s training surpasses the degree’s difficulty score. Airs above the ground, 1-time changes, double canter pirouettes, piaffe and passage are all 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 as they do not add to the difficulty score.

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.