How Do You Train A Horse For Dressage? (Best solution)

Who is the best dressage horse?

  • The breed is known for its intelligence and obedience in addition to its athleticism.
  • They are known for being easy to train,and adjusting well to different training methods.
  • Hanoverians are known for their willingness to do what the rider asks of them,which includes the ability to learn and remember.

Is dressage training cruel to horses?

Is dressage cruel to horses? Dressage done well is not cruel to horses. The point of dressage is to demonstrate harmony and trust between horse and rider, which is achieved using correct, gentle training.

Can any horse do dressage?

First of all, it’s important to understand that any breed of horse can develop the suppleness, stamina, and athleticism that’s required to succeed in the dressage arena. Warmbloods are bred for the sport of dressage. That means that a warmblood has the right conformation that allows for easy collection.

How long does it take to train a dressage horse?

Your horse should be in shape before you start dressage training. If he isn’t fit and is in poor condition, you’ll need to spend about five to seven months getting him into shape. You should start with some simple stretching exercises.

Do horses like doing dressage?

If done properly, horses shouldn’t hate dressage at all. Unfortunately, however, to some people dressage means getting the horse’s head down, whether that is by use of draw reins or sawing on the bit. Of course, if a horse is in discomfort during any activity, then he will come to dislike it.

What breed of horses do dressage?

Dutch Warmblood The Dutch Warmblood is considered the world’s best dressage horse and the most common breed used for professional dressage. It’s the newest European warmblood breed; less than 70 years old, according to the official studbook.

How long does it take to learn dressage?

It usually takes around five years to train a horse to Grand Prix level, assuming that you don’t suffer any setbacks along the way. That’s how long it takes for the horse to develop the physical and mental strength that he needs to be able to perform the movements required at that level.

Is dressage hard for the rider?

Dressage is tricky business. They say it takes two lifetimes for a rider to learn how to ride. It’s not only tricky for us riders but it also takes a very special horse to make it all the way to Grand Prix. The toughest challenge for our horses is learning to collect, and staying collected during each of the exercises.

How much do dressage horses cost?

According to Gorenstein, a dressage-trained horse can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000, but that’s just the beginning. The uniform can also cost upwards of $12,000.

How often should I ride my dressage horse?

For a horse and rider who require a moderate level of fitness, The horse should be ridden four days a week. At least two of the days should include a more intense workout while the other days could result in a slightly easier and less strenuous ride. This is the riding routine I followed when I foxhunted every weekend.

How often do dressage riders train?

In general, most horses, regardless of level, progress quite well with three or four days of training per week. Other activities, such as hacking on the trail, cavalletti or quadrille work, add spice to the program and improve fitness.

How do horses know what to do in dressage?

These cues can come from both legs, one leg, the position of your body or your seat bones, the way you weight your body, momentary increase or release of pressure from the hands or the core muscles…the list of possible aids goes on and on, and teaching the horse to respond to every single one reliably and in a relaxed

Can you teach yourself dressage?

Training yourself as well as your horse Dressage is a team sport so as much as you focus on your horses training and getting it in balance to improve their posture and strength, be sure to work on your own suppleness, stamina and stability and don’t forget about the importance of the right mindset.

What is the fastest way to learn a dressage test?

How to Remember a Dressage Test

  1. Prepare well in advance.
  2. Draw the test on paper.
  3. Break the test down into small sections.
  4. Ride the test in your mind.
  5. Ride the test on foot in your living room!
  6. Learning by rote.
  7. Practice the test on your horse (but not too much!)
  8. Borrow a friend’s horse.

What is the most basic dressage test?

Introductory Level All working trot is rising. This is the basic point of introduction to dressage, so judges are not looking for anything too complicated: balance and steadiness in the hands, seat and tempo, shape of patterns, elastic contact, proper bend, and forward movement.

How Are Dressage Horses Trained?

When people question, “But don’t the horses simply do it all naturally?” it is a common source of irritation among dressage riders. If you want to watch a dressage rider become enraged, simply state that it does not appear to be that difficult! We promise that you will receive a response from them within a short period of time. Realistically, it takes years and years of hard effort and devotion to teach a horse to ‘dance’ at the level that you witness in the Olympics — and even with that, most horses and a large number of riders will never ever reach the high echelons of the sport.

What is the average time it takes to train a horse?

In other words, even for the most brilliant horses and riders, it takes around 10 years to teach a dressage horse to compete at the highest levels.

Almost all of the movements you see horses execute in a dressage arena are movements that horses are capable of performing in their natural environment.

Very skilled riders may even increase the talent that a horse already possesses — for example, a horse may be able to trot in the field with grace, but a competent rider can improve the way the horse moves his shoulders and lifts his back.

Training Methods

A large number of various training methods are available for riders to choose from. It will sometimes rely on the horse’s personality, on the competence of the rider, and on the training method that they are accustomed to. A few fundamental phases are followed in most cases: initially, training the horse to walk, trot, and canter; then focusing on lateral motions and transitions; extension and collection; and finishing with a collection. When it comes to dressage for beginners, the emphasis will be on learning how to get the horse to lift his back and go “on the bit” by making a contact with him and learning how to apply and release pressure at the appropriate times.

  • In most cases, negative reinforcement is employed.
  • Instead, it signifies that a stimulus is no longer present once the appropriate response has been supplied.
  • Increasing the pressure on the horse will occur if the rider puts pressure with his legs and the animal does not move.
  • Depending on the situation, these cues might come from both legs, one leg, the posture of your body or seat bones, the way you weight your body, a transient rise or decrease in pressure from the hands or core muscles.
  • In addition, it’s crucial to remember that dressage isn’t limited to the competitions held during the Olympics.
  • Dressage is something that you do while you are teaching a horse.
  • Due to years and years of training, the horse and the relationship have progressed to the point where they react to an aid or cue that is invisible to observers on the ground.

Essentially, you want to be able to control every component of the horse’s body and movement while appearing to be doing absolutely nothing!

How are Dressage Horses Trained?

“How are dressage horses trained?” is a question that many people have and would like to know the solution to. That’s a complicated question with no straightforward solution! There are numerous factors that contribute to a great dressage horse’s performance, and it takes several years to train one from the beginning to the absolute top of the sport. An in-depth examination of the training of dressage horses is presented in this article.

The dressage horse’s paces

Although any horse that has been properly and persistently trained may do all of the maneuvers up to advanced level, only those horses that have naturally expressive paces are typically able to progress all the way to Grand Prix competition. However, this does not imply that every good dressage horse has a vast floating trot and a massive, off-the-ground canter as part of his repertoire of movements. The most important players frequently breeze over the first few stages. When these horses are asked to compress their bodies and acquire collection, however, progress in their training comes to a grinding halt, causing them to become frustrated.

  1. In addition, the ultimate dressage horse should have a naturally balanced canter, according to experts.
  2. To put it another way, each stride must have a clean, uncorrupted rhythm to it.
  3. The natural trot of a horse may be rather uninteresting.
  4. It’s also simpler for the horse to learn and grasp piaffe and passage if his trot isn’t too big, which makes it easier for him to master transitions between the two movements.
  • How to Ride a Horse in Dressage Using the Walk Gait
  • How to Ride a Horse Using the Trot Gait
  • How to Ride a Horse Using the Canter Gait


A dressage horse’s attitude must be one that can be trained. If the horse has a tendency to be resentful, stubborn, or too “hot,” it will be difficult to educate him to work in harmony with his rider and vice versa. Horses who are happy and calm while working are more likely to be forward-thinking and open to learn new things.

What’s the correct age to begin training a dressage horse?

The appropriate age to begin training a dressage horse is determined by a variety of criteria, including the horse’s build and temperament. Generally speaking, horses with a lot of muscle should be started later than horses with a lot of bone. The average age at which a horse may begin working under saddle is three or four years, when the horse is cognitively and physically capable of performing the required tasks.

At that age, the horse is not physically powerful enough to give opposition, nor is he so fixed in his habits that he is incapable of learning new skills. Whatever age you begin teaching your dressage horse, you should always be patient and strive to instill respect rather than fear in your horse.

How long does it take to train a dressage horse?

When training a dressage horse, it’s critical not to hurry the process and make the error of asking the horse for too much, too fast, in the beginning stages. You must make certain that the horse has the physical strength necessary to do the task you have assigned to him. Some individuals make the mistake of attempting to push the horse’s training forward too quickly, forcing him to undertake maneuvers that he finds physically challenging. This frequently leads in the horse suffering an injury, which can occasionally put an otherwise promising dressage career on hold.

For a horse to develop the physical and mental strength necessary for him to be able to accomplish the motions required at that level, it takes around three years.

How are dressage horses trained?

Dressage horses are taught according to the Scales of Training, which are as follows:

  1. Train dressage horses in line with the Scales of Training, which are as follows:

Through the links provided in the preceding paragraph, you may learn more about the Scales of Training and how they should be utilized in greater detail. Each of the scales has a direct relationship with the others in terms of weight. In other words, you can’t just skip over one or two of the scales and expect to see significant improvement in the horse’s training. Training a dressage horse needs time, effort, and devotion on the part of the rider. There are no quick routes in this world! Even the most experienced and successful dressage riders attend frequent lessons and training sessions to broaden their knowledge and enhance their riding skills and technique.

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How much does a dressage horse cost?

The cost of purchasing a dressage horse is determined by a variety of factors. A young, unbroken horse’s price will be heavily influenced by his breeding, particularly if he is a young, unbroken animal. In effect, you’re paying for the horse’s potential, which is determined by the competitive record of one or both of its parents. Horses with a proven track record in competition will often command a higher price than horses with no such experience. Essentially, you’re paying for an animal that has already been “created,” rather than purchasing a blank canvas for your own creation.

Horses who have already begun competing, on the other hand, are more likely to have issues and defects in their gait that must be addressed before significant development can be made.

But, before you part with your money, make certain that you have the necessary expertise and competence to ride a horse that is performing at that level. Because, contrary to common opinion, a Grand Prix horse does not just go through the motions of the race without being prompted.

Is dressage training cruel to horses?

It is not harsh to teach the horse in dressage if the animal is treated with compassion, is trained properly and appropriately. The purpose of a schooling whip and spurs is not to punish the horse, but rather to support the rider’s leg aids and provide the animal with better guidance. A properly fitted double bridle is not intended to constrain the horse’s head and neck into a “outline,” but rather to foster and increase self-carriage in the horse. One contentious training approach, on the other hand, has suddenly raised its ugly head.

  1. According to the Federation of Equestrian Industries, the usage of Rollkur has resulted in a ban from competition for one international dressage trainer.
  2. The erroneous outline and manner of going that results as a result is unacceptable in the dressage arena, and it should be avoided.
  3. It is clear that the contact is inadequate since the horse attempts to avoid taking the bit by approaching from behind the rider, rather than allowing the rider an elastic touch and taking the bit forward.
  4. Read this article for more information:Rollkur Explained: What It Is and What It Isn’t

In conclusion

Dressage horse training is a continuing and difficult process that can take many years to get a horse from a novice to an advanced level of performance and understanding. It is recommended that the dressage horse be trained in line with theScales of Training, which apply to all levels of competition. In the comments box below, please tell us about your experience with a dressage horse that you began successfully. Check out these related articles:

  • What it takes to be a GREAT Dressage Rider. Learn how to lay a solid dressage foundation. In this article, we will discuss how “ordinary” horses might excel in dressage competitions. Learn how every dressage rider may improve their chances of becoming a more professional equestrian.

How to Train a Horse for Dressage

Photographs courtesy of IJupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images Training a horse to be flexible, balanced, and responsive to the rider is the art of dressage training. Dressage horses must exhibit willingness, impulsion, and smoothness in all of the gaits that they are assessed in. Beginning with ground training on the lunge line, followed by many hours of practice in the riding arena, the young dressage horse will be prepared for the show ring.


Begin training your horse on the lunge line in short 10- to 20-minute intervals to get him used to it. On the lunge line, ask your horse to walk, trot, canter, and come to a complete stop in a 20-meter circle. Utilize consistent vocal orders to assist him in comprehending what you expect him to perform.

Allow him to stretch and move in a natural manner as you assist him in building his muscles. Make yourself familiar with your horse’s gaits and make a note of any places where he may require more instruction.


Make light contact with your horse to begin dressage training. Use the lightest possible touch on the reins to assist your horse around the course. Riding with a relatively loose rein and a light hand will produce the best results. As your horse grows, progressively increase your level of touch with him. It is critical for the rider to have an autonomous seat and hand in order for the touch to be as light as possible. Riders that cling to the reins can cause injury to the horse’s jaw and stress, which is the polar opposite of what dressage training is supposed to accomplish.

This will assist you in learning how to sit deeply and centeredly in the saddle when riding.


Dressage relies on a steady, regular rhythm, which is essential for success. During a dressage test, horses should not be allowed to accelerate or decelerate. By warming up your horse at all three gaits and then riding him at the trot around a riding ring or arena, you may learn to ride with rhythm. The short rails are for trotting or taking your two point position. Pick up a posting trot while riding the long rails. Try to complete this exercise without changing the speed or slowing down the trot of your horse.


A rider’s flexibility and response to his or her own aids are critical characteristics in riding circles, serpentines, and other dressage movements. Set up traffic cones or a jump standard in the middle of the riding ring to direct traffic. Spend some time on the cones or standard, riding 20-meter circles around them while bending the horse’s inner leg and turning his nose slightly towards center of the circle. Progress into the serpentine by riding half circles and changing directions regularly, constantly focusing on getting the horse to bend around your inner leg on the circle and changing direction frequently.

References Photographic Credits Biography of the Author Jeanne Grunert has been writing professionally since 1990.

How Are Horses Trained for Dressage – An Interactive Guide

Any links on this page that direct you to things on Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I will receive a compensation. Thank you in advance for your assistance — I much appreciate it! Dressage events are a huge attraction for my grandson. He adores the image of a rider and horse acting in perfect rhythm in front of a huge audience. Since then, he has shown an interest in dressage training, which has motivated me to conduct further research on the subject. Horses are taught for dressage in a systematic and systematic manner that typically begins when they are four years old and continues until they are eight years old.

Dressage horses are renowned for their patience, athletic ability, and intelligence in competition. All those who watch the sport like these characteristics, but it takes a lot of hard work and adequate preparation to achieve their level of success.

What Is Dressage?

If you are a novice at dressage training, this guide will help you understand, and implement, the basics of dressage training, to improve your riding and make it more enjoyable. You will develop skills to train your horse for dressage competitions. But before we get too deep, let’s start with the basics. Dressage is an equestrian sport with many levels. It started back in ancient Greek with Xenophon’s writing and is today part of the Olympic Games. Dressage is an art that helps develop a horse’s athletic ability and readiness to perform with the slightest cues.

Dressage training for high-level competitions is a prolonged process that needs consistent practice for years and requires a rider to be entirely in tune with their horse.

Things to Know Before You Can Start Dressage Training

Several considerations should be made prior to beginning dressage training on your horse.

How early can you start?

A horse’s dressage training career normally begins when it reaches the age of four years old. You don’t want to start with a horse that hasn’t been broken in yet. You must make certain that the horse is broken for regular riding before it reaches the age of four. If you put off learning to ride a horse for an extended period of time, horses are likely to develop a strong will and become difficult to teach.

Develop a bond with your horse.

It is essential for anybody who want to begin dressage training with their horse to establish a strong relationship with him. Dressage is based on a strong bond that exists between the rider and his or her horse. This link allows the horse to pick up on and respond to even the most subtle indications from the rider. To create a link with your horse outside of training, you must spend time with him outside of the arena. Take your horse for a stroll while guiding him by the reins, or go for a leisure ride.

Spending quality time with your horse will help you better understand his temperament, and you will develop a stronger bond with him as a result.

Work on your riding posture.

The next stages are to get more comfortable sitting in the saddle and become more accustomed with controlling the reins. Before you can begin dressage instruction, you must first learn how to sit correctly in the saddle, how to place your feet through stirrups, and how to navigate a horse using the reins.

Use the proper equipment.

Study dressage riding equipment and practice with the appropriate equipment to guarantee that you are prepared for training. Due to the fact that dressage riding equipment is specific, it is critical to train with your horse while wearing an appropriate dressage saddle, bit, and pad.

Dressage Training Plan

If you want to see continuous gains in your horse, you need to have a strategy. It is necessary to separate education from conditioning when it comes to dressage training. Schooling is the process of teaching a horse to respond to stimuli. He learns to walk, trot, canter, and do a variety of other things. Conditioning, on the other hand, is equally vital since it improves the horse’s physical capabilities via strength and conditioning workouts, allowing him to do the tasks you ask of him.

Using the appropriate combination of the two, your horse will learn the abilities it needs to improve regularly while also maintaining its health.


Before you begin dressage training, your horse should be in good condition. Getting him into shape will take around five to seven months if he is not physically active and in bad health when you first meet him. You should begin with some of the most basic retching exercises. Before you begin stretching your horse, make sure he’s warmed up. Muscles become more supple when they warm up, and they are less prone to be harmed. Also, remember to be patient with your horse if he shows signs of resistance and to avoid pushing him too far.

  • Make the horse do neck, back, and leg stretching exercises for 10 to 15 minutes three times a week for a total of three sessions.
  • After a week, you may begin strolling with your horse and eventually riding it.
  • Once your horse has begun to put on muscle and has recovered well from stretching, it is time to introduce him to cardiovascular workouts.
  • Heart-rate-raising exercises assist to increase your horse’s endurance while also preventing lactic acid accumulation in his muscles.
  • Depending on the individual, this period of training might last anywhere from four to twelve weeks.
  • In order for your horse to be in the proper posture, he must be sufficiently extending his back and propelling himself forward with his hind legs.
  • A few examples of strength-building workouts include leaping fences, cantering uphill and then walking back downhill, trotting in circles repeatedly, and so on.
  • Increase the interval between workouts and the intensity of the exercises gradually until your horse reaches the appropriate physical capacity.

Schooling the horse.

The horse must grow acclimated to the natural aids you use to communicate with him in order to go through the dressage training process. In an ideal situation, the tiniest indication should be sufficient for the horse to comprehend what you want. Horses, on the other hand, require years to reach that level of performance. In the beginning, the cues you offer to your horse with your body will have to be clearly heard by him. Your horse will have a difficult time comprehending what you want him to perform.

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It is your responsibility to teach your horse various movements such as the walk, trot, canter, movement in circles, half-circles, or straight lines, among others.

It is preferable to be consistent with your riding and aids in order to assist the horse better comprehend you.

If your horse doesn’t get anything right the first time, don’t become upset or disappointed with him. Alternately, you may divide operations down into smaller components so that your employee has a more specific idea what you are asking of him.

Use negative reinforcement.

The most effective method of training horses is through negative reinforcement. To put it another way, you eliminate a stimulus once you’ve achieved the desired consequence. For example, you may apply pressure on the horse with your legs and seat bones, and then release the pressure when the horse moves in the appropriate direction.

When schooling the horse, usually, three to four days a week are enough.

On a daily basis, your horse will participate in an exercise session that is divided into three parts: a warm-up, training/body of the workout, and a cool-down. The warm-up period is straightforward. It can involve activities such as walking or riding. The only goal is to prepare the horse for the training phase, which is the next step. The training element of the workout begins once your horse has regained his or her alertness and responsiveness. You train the horse to do a series of maneuvers starting with a trot and a canter and progressing to traveling in straight lines, circles, and half-circles using just basic natural aids.

The training phase is the most difficult element of the workout because it continually pushes the horse’s capabilities to their maximum.

The final phase of training is known as the cool-down period.

Over time, your horse will learn that an easy/enjoyable activity always rewards a tough one, which will aid him in persevering through the more difficult chores in the future.

Training Scales

The following concepts can be used as a guide while training your horse: rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness, and collection. Rhythm is the most important element to remember when educating your horse. These are referred as as the United States Dressage Federation’s Pyramid of Training and are provided by the organization. With the passage of time, a horse will progress through each pyramid level, beginning with rhythm and ending with collecting. The term “rhythm” refers to the regularity and pace of a horse’s movement.

  1. Suppleness is defined as the ability to move with ease and to be devoid of worry.
  2. It is considered “contact” when the horse is responsive to the rider’s cues and takes the bit.
  3. It may be measured by the length of the horse’s stride and the duration of suspension in a trot or a canter, for example.
  4. Because of the extensive involvement of the hindlegs, collection is characterized by the lightness of a horse’s stride.

It is not envisaged that novice dressage horses would be able to master it. Remember to keep the six training scales in mind when you are schooling your horse and work on achieving each one one by one.


It is possible to train your horse for dressage effectively if you follow the methods I’ve outlined. In addition to substantially improving your riding experience, it will also allow you to enter your horse in amateur dressage contests. If you want thorough information on fundamental dressage exercises and horses, I recommend that you read the following pdf published by the United States Dressage Federation.

What Is Dressage And How Do You Get Started With The Basics

It was my goal in writing this post to explain precisely what dressage is and to offer you with the necessary tools and information to get started. Dressage has been a passion of mine since I was a young child, and it continues to be so. Being able to see the magic of a horse and rider dancing together is definitely a wonderful sight to behold. It takes a remarkable bond between horse and rider, as well as many years of training, to achieve this. In dressage, both the horse and the rider are athletes, and I recall a coach telling me that training a dressage horse is similar to training a ballet dancer or a gymnast, only you can’t talk to them.

What Is Dressage?

Dressage is a method of teaching and riding a horse in its natural state. The term “dressage” is derived from the French verb dresseur, which means “to train,” and means “to ride.” Horseback riding encompasses a wide range of equestrian disciplines, including classical dressage, western riding, jumping, reining, and eventing, just to mention a few. Dressage is an Olympic activity that is loved all over the globe at various levels, with Grand Prix being the highest level at which it is done globally and Grand Prix musical freestyle being the most popular since it is when the movements are performed to musical accompaniment.

  1. When progressing from training to FEI (Federal Equestrian International) levels, the degree of difficulty of each level rises.
  2. The dressage tests are held on a 20 × 60 meter arena, with a smaller arena being utilized at some stages for the more advanced riders.
  3. 10 was given for great performance, 5 for adequate performance, and 0 for no movement.
  4. After that, all of the points are totaled together and divided by the total number of available points to arrive at a percentage mark for the test done by the horse and rider.
  5. 81 pioneers of dressage came together in 1973 to form the United States Dressage Federation, spurred driven by rising interest in the discipline and improved access to competent military and international trainers.

In today’s world, dressage is a global sport in which men and women compete on an equal playing field on the same course.

What is CDI Dressage?

CDI is an abbreviation for Concours Dressage International, which is a dressage competition sanctioned by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). CDI contests (also known as “international” shows) include a number of extra standards in addition to those required to compete in USEF/USDF approved shows (also known as “national” shows). Numerous top-level riders will participate overseas in order to be able to compete in more CDI events and acquire more exposure at these more prestigious competitions.

How To Train A Dressage Horse

In dressage, CDI is an abbreviation for Concours Dressage International, which is a competition sanctioned by the Federation Equestre Internationale. Some requirements are different for competing in CDI contests (“international” shows) than they are for competing in USEF/USDF approved events (“national” shows). Here are some of the differences between the two types of competitions. In order to participate in more CDI events and obtain more exposure at these larger competitions, many high level riders will travel overseas.

What are some of the dressage movements

Dressage is a discipline that is similar to ballet on horses. A collaborative effort between the horse and rider results in movements that appear effortless and that flow elegantly from one to the next. A high level of athleticism as well as effective communication between horse and rider are required for this type of riding. There are certain physiques that will naturally find it simpler to do ballet for humans than others, just as there are with any activity. Within the dressage test, there are movements that require the horse to move in a specific direction while maintaining the existing gate and balance, and then there are movements that are lateral, which require the horse to move in a different direction while maintaining the existing gate and balance.

Some horses are naturally gifted with the capacity to “lengthen,” whilst others are gifted with the ability to “sit” with ease.

What are the levels of competition?

Dressage events are available at a variety of levels, and the majority of competitions will accommodate riders of all abilities. The highest level is Grand Prix level, which may be seen at the Olympics and World Equestrian Games, and is the most difficult to achieve. When you compete, you are pitting yourself against yourself as well as the other people who are taking the test. The purpose of the competition is to always increase your own score while also getting a solid picture of where your training is at and what you can work on by utilizing the judge’s input and feedback from other competitors.

  1. Walk, trot, canter, and a 20-meter circle are used as an introduction.
  2. Standing trot motions are added, as is leg yield in the canter.
  3. Change of lead through the trot, rein back, and longer strides in the canter and trot are all taught at this level.
  4. In the fourth level, the following exercises are performed: collected walk circles of 8 meters, extended walk circles, extended trot circles, and extended canter circles; half piroutte in walk; trot half pass; canter half pass.

In the fifth level, you will ride an 8-meter canter circle with a single flying change, a half-volte 3-5 meters in collected canter, and three flying changes every fourth step.

What do dressage scores mean?

It is expected that the judge will give you a 10 for great performance in your dressage test because the description of that movement is so clear and concise. 10s, on the other hand, are extremely rare. Scores of 70 percent or more in a dressage exam are regarded excellent, while scores between 60 and 70 percent are considered good. Scores in excess of 65 percent are frequently required to be eligible to compete at the highest level at the national level. At any level of dressage competition, if the horse and rider are routinely scoring 65 percent or above, this suggests that the horse and rider are typically ready to advance to the next level of competition.

What are judges looking for during a Dressage test?

When you compete in a dressage competition, each level test has a specific aim to accomplish. It is with this goal in mind that the judges evaluate your performance and establish a baseline for scoring. Examples include: “confirming that the horse has developed and maintains a rounded natural outline without restriction, moves freely forward without collection but with active hindquarters while maintaining a steady rhythm and contact with the bit without tension or resistance,” according to the New Zealand Dressage Test book for 2013.

What to expect at a dressage competition

Dressage tests are judged by a judge who sits at the end of the arena, behind the marker C, who will give you a score based on your performance. It is possible that there will be three judges in a competition, with the other two located down the long length of the arena behind E and B. As you ride, the judges will give you a score for each aspect of the dressage test that you have completed. It is important to consider how effectively the horse is moving for the objective of the riding level at which you are participating.

  • Before you approach the dressage arena, you will hear a bell ring or, in some occasions, the horn of a passing automobile toot its horn in greeting.
  • You will next enter the arena and salute the judge, and after pausing and saluting the judge, you will ride the motions of your test while following the letters around the arena as a guide to your position.
  • When you are just starting out and competing at the lesser levels, you do not have to memorize the test since a caller on the side of the arena will call it out for you.
  • After you have completed the moves of the test, you will come to a complete stop, salute the judge, and exit the ring.

You will be given your scorecard at the conclusion of the dressage competition, which will include your final score. Take advantage of this opportunity to review the judges’ remarks and identify areas in which you desire to improve for the next competition.

Training your horse for a dressage test

It’s critical to teach your horse gradually and in line with his or her nature. Their learning styles are as diverse as those of people, and they require various lengths of time to develop strength and flexibility. Consequently, hiring a dressage trainer who can assist you on the ground, teach your horse the proper aids, and assist you in communicating with one another and developing your connection together is the ideal place to begin. Understanding the Dressage Pyramid Of Training can also assist you in your training and in identifying the areas you need to improve.

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Make sure you are comfortable riding your test and that you understand each movement.

However, when you are teaching your horse, be patient with your approach and pay attention to your horse’s cues.

When I want to see how my riding appears, I like to utilize video.

Training yourself as well as your horse

Dressage is a team sport, so while you concentrate on your horse’s training and putting it in balance to develop its posture and strength, don’t forget to work on your own flexibility, stamina, and stability, as well as the necessity of having the appropriate mentality. The time you spend working on your personal health and well-being can have a significant influence on the amount of time you spend on the road or on your bike. Check out our free guide to learn some important stretches and ideas to get you started right now.

Benefits of Dressage

For the most part, dressage is the foundation of all horseback riding disciplines. Dressage training is the fundamental training of aids, and all horses may benefit from a solid foundation in the sport. Choosing to concentrate your efforts on a single discipline will help you to have a greater understanding of that field. It was for this reason that I developed a passion for dressage. I was competing in eventing at the time, and my jumping only improved as my dressage progressed. You will find the most difficult part of competing in dressage is striving to improve your score by grasping the components of what dressage is all about and the goal of the test level in which you are participating.

In addition, having this understanding will assist you in your everyday training and in your ability to proceed through the stages.

In other words, even if dressage isn’t your thing, learning a little bit about what it is can help you enjoy your riding more because you will have clearer communication with your horse and a grasp of the fundamental aids, and you will be able to create a better relationship with your horse.

Want to learn more?

Dressage Arena Design and Setup Can Be Found Here What Is the Dressage Training Pyramid and How Does It Work? A Guide to Constructing a Dressage Arena

Six Strategies for Training Young Horses

When I was a teenager, I began to take my riding more seriously and began looking for a new riding companion to ride with. Because a well trained horse was out of my price range, I narrowed my search to young and inexperienced horses. As a result, I ended up with a yearling Hanoverian/Quarter Horse and, three years later, I purchased a weanling Belgian Warmblood colt. Soon after, I launched a modest breeding program and began training horses from the age of three months old. In spite of the fact that I believe there is a great deal of value in owning or riding a schoolmaster, I am thankful for the experiences I have had teaching horses from birth to the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) level.

  1. Unavoidably, you will be required to deal with any complications that may develop.
  2. You will learn the most effective method of progressing with your horse based on his temperament, physical strengths and limitations, and other factors.
  3. After all, the word “dressage” literally translates as “training.” It is, after all, what it is all about.
  4. A really gorgeous, super-moving warmblood, an Off-the-Track Thoroughbred, or a Quarter Horse might be on the horizon.
  5. Today, I’ll provide a few pointers that I’ve picked up along the road on what to emphasize while teaching a young horse, based on my own experience.
  6. Keep moving ahead.
  7. When beginning a horse under saddle, the most important thing to remember is to keep it calm.

When we have a horse that lacks forward desire, we might rapidly run into difficulties.

While the horse is still on the longeline, the initial mounting procedure is carried out.

The length of time a horse spends on the longe line will vary from horse to horse and may last anywhere between a week and a month depending on the circumstances.

During the removal of the horse from the longeline, it may be beneficial to maintain the ground person in the arena in order to encourage a forward reaction.

Unless the horse is positioned correctly forward, the contact will be compromised, bending will be difficult, straightness will be impossible to achieve, and throughness will be impossible to achieve.

Ride in a straight path to allow the horse to travel freely in the direction you are going.

Riding without making turns helps the horse to develop his own rhythm as he moves along.

Keep your fists clasped and avoid allowing the contact to get too static—I prefer to think of the bit vibrating in the horse’s mouth when I’m riding.

Some horses like a bit that is absolutely immovable, but in my experience, the majority prefer a bit that has a tiny vibrating motion to encourage them to chew.

Maintain a long yet round neckline.

When it comes to young horses, my favorite type of bit is an eggbutt snaffle.

After a few months, I’ll decide whether or not I want to keep them in the eggbutt or shift them to a loose ring for the time being.

The eggbut can be good for a horse that tends to be overly light in the contact and has a propensity to curl away from the touch because of the additional stability it provides.

Riders must ride ahead in order to educate their horses how to use the aids and to gain confidence in their abilities.


Once the horse is capable of going forward on its own, it is appropriate to incorporate bending lines into your training.

When you bend, you are taking the first step toward developing flexibility, which will strengthen your horse’s relationship with you.

Therefore, at this early period of training, forward and bending are essential!

Early in the training process, I will also teach the horse to turn on the forehand to assist him learn when to yield from the inner leg.


Each horse matures at his or her own rate, both physically and psychologically.

Some horses are naturally gifted and are capable of competing in the FEI Young Horse competitions.

These tests are not suitable for all horses.

It’s important to remember that horses do not get the show calendar at the beginning of the year.

The duration of my rides will be quite brief during this initial period of training—sometimes as low as 15 minutes and never longer than a half hour.

Things should not be rushed.

Risks should be taken with caution.

Establish clear and unwavering boundaries.

Bad habits and disrespectful conduct that are tolerated at this time period will follow you for years to come.

Horses are always testing the limits of their herd and you must ensure that you are the herd leader in the partnership to avoid conflict.


Finding an experienced horse trainer who has previous experience teaching young horses to assist as a guide and mentor for you on your path would be extremely beneficial.

It might also be beneficial to keep in mind that training can be difficult at times.

It might be comforting to know that, even if something appears to be extremely tough or even impossible at the time, it will eventually come together if you persevere through it!


Seriously, never-ending, never-ending patience.

You will be forced to confront your fears and anxieties.

At other times, you will feel as though you are a complete novice who has no idea what you are doing on the bike.

Concentrate on the process rather than the result.

When you are patient and compassionate with your horse, he will come to trust you as his leader and gain confidence in the process.

Some horses may begin to put the rider’s aids to the test, such as refusing to move forward or kicking out to the leg, or even grasping the bit.

Once those horses begin to work under saddle, they begin to experience the leadership they have been longing for.

They are at ease with the job and the expectations, and, much like a teenager, they push the boundaries to see what they can get away with and what they cannot.

If you keep your standards high and your limits tight, you will eventually make it to the other side!

More articles written by Jenna Arnold may be found by clicking here.

As the creator of Mindful Riding, she is passionate about helping riders establish more meaningful relationships with their horses and themselves by harmonizing mind, body, and spirit.

She is also a published author. She is the mother of two young kids, and she and her husband, Martin Arnold, own and operate Concordia Dressage, which is located in Austin, Texas.

Tips for Training the Young Dressage Horse with Susanne Miesner

Training techniques for working with young horses are provided by Susanne Miesner, a highly successful young-horse trainer. A select few of us have the luxury of studying from schoolmasters, while the rest of us are instructed by the horses themselves. In contrast, whether we want to deal with young horses or are forced to purchase an untrained horse, the rider takes on the role of the instructor. Susanne Miesner is riding this young horse at the trot, which is the pace at which most young horses are able to maintain their balance the easiest.

  • Helmets are now required for all riders who appear in training articles published by DT.
  • Select a horse that has not been broken in after the age of four.
  • 2.
  • Unbalanced horses or horses who have had inappropriate training are more likely to exhibit continuous variations in neck position (comes above the bit, comes behind the bit, and so on).
  • Due to the fact that these horses have a “past” that includes both positive and negative events, they require significantly more time to teach.
  • When the horse reaches the age of 4 1/2 to 5, you can raise this to 40-45 minutes every session.
  • For the majority of horses, a basic bridle with flash noseband and a double-jointed bit that fits properly should do.

Never get on the horse with the thought in mind, “Today we’re going to perform this exercise,” or similar.

In order to loosen up a nervous horse, I don’t immediately start doing a specific exercise.

The fact that I have attained ideal “riding feel” rather than having done an activity is even better.

If you feel that your horse is moving particularly well today—he is completely balanced, smooth, supple, and in front of the aids—don’t be afraid to try an activity that your kid hasn’t yet tried, such as the beginning of a half pass or flying change.


This will allow the most effective relaxation of the back muscles.




Horses are more at ease when they have a clear leader in their midst.

Allow your horse to take plenty of pauses when walking on the buckle.

Make your training sessions more interesting.


Twenty-three hours of pasture a day may be insufficient to deplete his energy, but 23 hours in a stall may be detrimental to his health.

Make use of the Training Scale as a guiding principle throughout the process.

Rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness, and collection are some of the processes involved.

End each session optimistically, then walk on the buckle one more to ensure a successful session. 17. Be happy with tiny steps forward in your development. 18. Make sure your horse is on the correct path by tracking his or her development. You want your horse to be able to:

  • When walking on the buckle, take long, steady steps and nod his head to signal his intent. Keep the beat going with both hands without losing the rhythm
  • Draw the reins equally with both hands on both sides of the horse. Make simple turns, such as circles, without causing your horse to lose his equilibrium. When given the opportunity to run, stretch forward and down at all gaits while keeping an equal speed.

Susanne Miesner’s “Training Young Horses” may be found in its entirety in the January 2006 edition of Dressage Today magazine.

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