Dressage consists of a series of compulsory movements, in walk, trot and canter, in an arena measuring 60mx20m, where 12 lettered markers are placed symmetrically along the fence, indicating where movements are to start, where changes of pace or lead are to occur and where the movements are to end. The judges mark the fluidity, the regularity of the movements and the paces.
The judges (1 to 5 following the level of competition) assess the figures awarding a mark from 1 to 10. Penalties are involved when the movement is not executed. Once totaled, these scores produce a percentage and the rider or team with the highest total score is declared the winner.
There are tests of different degree of difficulty. Lower tests involve movements such as circles, transitions, lateral movements. Highest level tests include passage, piaffer, pirouettes, flying changes in canter etc.
National tests are Preliminary, Novice, Elementary, Medium, Advanced Medium and Advanced.
International Shows are overseen by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). International competitions include the following tests: Prix St-Georges, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2, Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle (Kür). The Kür is performed on a musical score.
Horse Sport Ireland runs the Dressage High Performance programme with an input from Dressage Ireland.
The sport is administered in Ireland by Dressage Ireland. To find out more about getting involved in Dressage at national level please contact Dressage Ireland.