What is Dressage Horse Riding? Ultimate Guide 2022

Dressage is a riding discipline often seen in the Olympics and world championships. It is also known as horse dancing because of its intricate moves designed to show off the horse’s natural balance, suppleness, and responsiveness. Dressage riders must learn to take control of their horses’ movements through correct training methods so they can easily perform these complicated maneuvers at any time. 

This blog post will explore dressage from an equestrian perspective, outlining what it is, how it’s judged, and some helpful riding tips for beginners!

For example, the United States has over 350 dressage competitions every year.

The horse is guided through a series of movements, which include piaffe, passage, and courbette.

Piaffe is when the horse moves with a slow, high-stepping trot. The passage is when the horse takes steps of various lengths and tempos seen in the show jumping. Courbette involves lifting all four feet off the ground simultaneously to make it look like they’re standing on tiptoe.

Judges consider three things:

  • How well do riders synchronize their movements with those of the horse?
  • Whether or not they maintain control over their horses at all times.
  • If there’s any hesitation during certain maneuvers.

The rider must stay relaxed not to constrain the animal’s natural movement, which can be difficult through dressage training methods such as classical equitation. Some trainers may use artificial aids for an inexperienced horse, but these should never restrict its freedom of movement.

Many horse breeds are used for dressage, but the most common are thoroughbreds and warmbloods. Horses must be attentive and gentle-natured to do well in this sport which can take years or decades to master.

The judging system has been changed over time as new methods were found to better track movements, such as hand signals from judges. Judges who spot mistakes will put their flags up, so other judges notice them at once; these wrongdoings may result in lower scores

Judges’ decisions are not final until after all three riders have competed because one rider might’ve made an error while another didn’t even touch them while doing the required movements. The judge’s decision is then made based on which rider had the least number of faults

The system for scoring can be a little complicated, but not if you’re reading about it – there are four parts to each movement: walk and trot in 12 meters long figure-eight (starting with left hand), rein back from 12 to 0 meters; halt at the 0-meter line under control; salute by horse rearing up while hind legs stay down for a few seconds

The rider and horse are judged on the fluidity of their movement, how they stay in balance without any sudden movements


Dressage is also about communication between the horse and its rider; this means understanding each other’s needs. The judge looks for any signs that show whether or not both horse and rider have understood what was asked for

This system is used to test training levels – it shows how well an animal can perform tasks as well as gives insight into his confidence level when performing various exercises such as bending over from a walk to trotting backward (piaffe)

Judging dressage competitions requires knowledge of specific terminology, which may be challenging to understand if you’re not familiar with horses. Still, there are a few simple terms that you’ll hear a lot:

  • A horse is marked down if they’re tense or aggressive; it might show its displeasure with the rider in various ways, such as tossing their head
  • They are also marked for not being relaxed when asked to perform specific exercises – like lifting one foot off the ground before trotting on. This can be very difficult for some horses, but it’s important because it shows how confident and obedient the horse is.

There are many ways to enjoy this sport without breaking your budget – such as volunteering at a local stable:

  • You’ll get to see firsthand how horses are taken care of and the jobs that need to be done
  • Plus, you might even be offered a horse to ride!

What other types of horse riding are there?

A few other horse riding styles would be cross country riding, showjumping, and dressage, as mentioned before. There are so many different types of horseback riding that you’ll have to check out a few more blogs on the topic if you want an in-depth explanation!

Cross country riding: is when a horse and rider will ride through various obstacles.

Showjumping: is when a team of riders, horses, and judges jumps over fences (usually about two or three feet in height) on an obstacle course. It comprises four phases: dressage, opening ceremonies with the horse show jumping competition, and jump-off rounds to determine who has ridden their horse best. The last phase is called “cross country.”

Dressage: Dressage, as mentioned before, is a type of competitive western riding that involves graceful movements from both the horse and the rider. Other types are hunter/jumper competitions where there are no gaits involved, but instead, it comes down to how well they can stay balanced while negotiating rugged terrain.

Benefits of Horseback Riding:

This sport dramatically benefits people who participate; horseback riding has something for everyone, from physical fitness to emotional stability! It also boosts self-esteem by encouraging confidence and independence. And don’t forget about those endorphins – they’re sure to make anyone happy all day long when they come from this type of exercise.

How to start horse riding?

The best way to start horse riding is to find a stable closest to where you live and stop in. Ask them if they offer horse lessons or even a trail ride to experience what it’s like to be on a horse. You can decide how far you want to take this new sport/hobby. Most importantly, remember to enjoy yourself and have fun with your horse!