Dressage is one of the Olympic equestrian sports. It 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.
It consists of riding a set series of movements, called a dressage test, in a standard arena – 20m x 40m for more basic tests and 20m x 60m for others – with standard letters, or ‘dressage markers’, around the edge. This is done in front of at least one judge. The number of judges increases as you progress up the levels. Each movement in the dressage test is scored out of 10. Scores are also awarded for the overall impression of the horse and rider – these are known as collective marks. The final score is then calculated as a percentage, and the rider and horse with the highest percentage wins.
National dressage competitions offer a range of classes from Preliminary up to Advanced. The degree if difficulty increases as you progress up the levels. Lower level tests includes movements such as circles, transitions and lateral movements, while higher level tests include advanced movements such as passage, piaffer, pirouettes and flying changes in canter.
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 sport is administered in Ireland by Dressage Ireland. To find out more about getting involved in Dressage at national level please contact Dressage Ireland.