Sports Non-Fiction posted May 15, 2016


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My love for a horse sport

Dressage, A Sport For Kings

by prettybluebirds

It was so quiet one could hear a pin drop. Thousands of eyes were riveted on the entrance to the arena where a glossy, gray horse soon appeared.

Horse and rider seemed to float as they entered the show arena in a collected gait known as the Passage. This gait is characterized by elevated movement of the knees and hocks, as well as a defined engagement of the hind quarters. The horse remains calmly on the bit with a raised arched neck and head close to vertical. It is a beautiful sight to behold.

The horse enters and stops with all four feet equally balanced. He remains relaxed, attentive, straight, and on the bit. The rider does a slight bow to the judges and waits for the music to begin. Yes, these horses perform to music, often classical. The planning and training it must take to have the dressage movements coincide with music; I find awe inspiring.

I love all horse related sports but dressage is definitely my favorite. It amazes me what these huge animals, some seventeen hands tall, can be trained to do. While I don't claim to know much about the training, I do know the horses are athletes and it takes tremendous strength to perform some of the maneuvers. They work out every day to build the strength they need and to perfect the movements. It's not all fame and oats for these superstars.

It also takes years for a horse and rider to reach the beginning international levels of dressage called the Prix St. Georges Dressage. A horse must be a minimum of seven years of age and must have successfully completed all the lower levels. The Musical Freestyle is performed at this level; my favorite to watch. I can't begin to tell you all the movements in seven hundred words, so I will talk about a couple of my favorites.

Of course, one is the Passage that I described to you. This movement is so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. The horse seemed to dance as he traveled around the arena. How they get the horses to pick their feet up so high I will never know.

My next pick is the Piaffe. It is highly collected and cadenced as with the Passage; however, it is done "in place." The Piaffe must always be lively and animated with the horse's body moving up and down in a relaxed and supple manner. The horse's neck is arched and still. The horse is actually "dancing" in one spot. To me, it is indescribably lovely; my silly eyes again filled with tears.

Another of my choices is the Flying Change of Lead. The horse changes leading legs every stride. It looks like the horse is skipping as we did when kids.

The last movement I find truly awesome is the Pirouette. It is generally performed at the collected walk or canter where the horse's forehand circles around the hind limbs at a distance equal to the length of the horse. The horse is slightly bent in the direction he is traveling. He should not move backward or sideways. It must take great strength for the horse to hold his body in perfect form while performing this move.

The riders have my admiration too. They must sit straight and still while the horse performs all the different movements. Of course, the rider is guiding the horse, but they are supposed to do so in a manner not noticeable. Can you imagine the hours put into achieving that level of perfection?

Horse sports, dressage, in particular, are my favorite sport. There is nothing more beautiful than a horse performing intricate movements to music. It is something one never forgets once they observe it. I went to a live show once and was smitten forever.






How sporty are you? contest entry

Recognized


I love the beauty of dressage. I often watch the competition that takes place in Aachen, Germany, on television, of course. I owned horses most of my life but never got into the high- level stuff like dressage. Not that I wouldn't have loved to learn, but life got in the way.
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