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English Riding - Dressage

The word "dressage" is French for "training".
Riding, whether it's jumping, racing, or just pleasure riding, requires control of the horse. Dressage, where the rider displays skill at controlling the horse, is the basis for all other forms of riding.

But dressage is basic not just basic riding skill. It gets quite competitive, and can be very challenging. It takes years to teach a top dressage horse to compete at high levels.

The skills displayed in the arena are called menage patterns.
Here are some of these patterns or "moves":

Linda Wilcox, top American competing in European dressage championships

photo by Peter Lewellyn

  • Piaffe: This is a trot in place

  • Piourette: The turning in place while at a canter. This should be the smallest circle possible, the horse rotating around on it's hind legs, only in 6 to 8 strides.

  • Half Pass: The horse is going diagonally, moving frontwards and sideways at the same time at a trot. The side legs go out, and the others cross over.

  • Flying Lead Changes: This looks sort of like the horse is skipping. Done at a canter, the horse changes leads between each stride.


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For cutting and reining horse events, you definitely need a saddle thatís designed to help you "ride in balance and sit the stop." First, you want a saddle that was designed and built specifically for reining or cutting. Both of these designs have their individual advantages but remember, just because the manufacturer "calls" it a reining saddle doesnít mean it was designed "well" for reining.

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