The Myths of Dressage
Ask any equestrian with a passion for dressage what he or she loves most, and the response is like to focus on the theme of benefits to both horse and rider. Whether the pair seeks a professional partnership in the competitive arena or simply prefer to bond through relaxed recreation, dressage has its benefits. Unfortunately, this precise equine sport has earned an undue reputation in some circles.
This lovely and classic sport is nicknamed “the horse ballet” due to its requirements of precise movements performed in the arena. It is not, as some opponents believe, an intricate form of torture. The fact of the matter is those who believe the latter are painfully misinformed. A responsible equestrian would never inflict pain upon a horse in any way whatsoever.
In the book Training Strategies for Dressage Riders, Charles de Kunffy writes: “Dressage, in general, is horsemanship that is based on love and respect for horses. It is aimed at the improvement of the horse’s natural abilities to fulfill his ultimate potential. It results in a happy horse that usually lives longer, stays healthier, and performs better and for a longer time than one not dressaged. The method of dressage includes only natural means for the development of the horse. It is based on mutual understanding, respect, and trust between horse and rider. It is based on kindness and reward rather than punishment, and it excludes the use of force.”
These words provide an accurate description of the sport of dressage as well as its highly purposeful benefits to horse and rider. Cesar Parra, a competitive dressage rider and trainers, fully believes in this theory. Dressage professionals such as he understand the purpose and benefits of teaching even the most basics of the sport.
Dressage at its very essence is a beautiful art form. Dressage is both safe and enjoyable to horse and rider. Riders approach the sport with respect and understanding for the horses. These individuals love their animals and would never require them to do anything that would result in harm.
Of course, like in any area of life, there are exceptions to the rule. Some individuals are known to neglect their animals. However, it is unfair to judge the entire sport based on the actions of a few bad apples. Indeed, in most cases other riders and trainers step in at the first instance they observe wrongdoing.
Quality dressage training is based upon the tenant that for a horse to work as a happy, healthy and balanced athlete, it must master six techniques. The classical training pyramid consists of rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness and collection. When horse and rider work to master these exercises, they begin the invaluable process of building relationships.
Dressage was developed to transform horses and riders into happier and healthier animals and people. Cesar Parra is an award-winning dressage rider and trainer who hopes individuals will educate themselves on this timeless sport. Build a better relationship with your horse through artful dressage!