Good flatwork is the foundation that makes for success in all riding disciplines, and without an independent, well-balanced seat and an understanding of how to ride well on the flat, no-one can progress far in any equine sport. 

The object of dressage is the harmonious development of the horse in both mind and body.  Every horse, regardless of its type or use, can benefit from this training.  Dressage, when performed at the highest levels, requires the horse and rider to combine strength and agility with the elegance and beauty of ballet. 

The Dressage Rally is a competition where members compete as a team and are judged not only on their riding skills, but also how well they take care of their mounts.   Competitions are held at many levels, beginning with Walk-Trot and Training Level, and continuing through nine levels to Grand Prix.  

A dressage test is a series of movements, performed at various gaits, designed to test the rider’s ability to communicate with their horse.  Each movement is performed at a specified point in the arena and is scored individually on a scale from 0 to 10.  A score of 0 means no portion of the movement was executed, while a score of 10 shows excellent execution.  The individual scores are added and then calculated as a percentage of possible points to come up with a final score.  The highest percentage wins the class.

Tests are different for each level and are written so there is a way to consistently measure the horse’s progress through the levels.  Judges are looking for accuracy, obedience, suppleness of the horse, quality of the gaits, and the rider’s use of the aids.  There are also musical freestyle dressage tests for individual riders, pairs, and groups of four or more.

Dressage tests can be printed via the USDF website, www.usdf.org, by visiting the dressage tests page.