Why is Dressage riding becoming so popular worldwide... and what are it's origins ?
As an English saddler for the last 30 years, first publishing TheTackGuide website in 2001, it has become very apparent to me that there has been a massive recent increase in the popularity of dressage riding worldwide, especially in countries which I was not aware of having much interest at all in the discipline, let alone a strong and very enthusiastic following. The London 2012 Olympics was not only great for Britain's status… and for the acceleration of London's popularity to a level encouraging a still current tourist boom… but it gave the very best profile for the sport, both for participation and for spectating. The extensive media coverage allowed TV viewers worldwide to see almost every rider in every event, and to follow the competition right through to the final stages and medal ceremonies. The winning of a gold medal for Team GB also added massively to the popularity and status of riding in our country. It is also widely acknowledged that the ‘Freestyle to Music’ Test has greatly increased the audience for dressage
Although Showjumping has in the past been equally popular, dressage riding, especially for female riders, seems to have grown exponentially over the last few years, creating numerous new clubs and organisations, but in particular bringing an increase in the number of leisure riders who may have a horse and maybe be lucky enough to have their own stables and possibly a manege, and now are enthused to raise their level of riding to the discipline of dressage. The number of outdoor maneges being built in Britain, particularly in the Home Counties of England, I believe has reached record levels, which proves the point. The charm and etiquette of the sport, plus the safety factor of dressage (self-preservation!) appeals highly to the rider who appreciates 'the better things in life' and has the assets to acquire the essentials.
As a 'new saddle' advisory service TheTackGuide regularly receives enquiries through our Saddlesearch webpage for the best dressage saddles, and although the majority of these enquiries are from Western Europe,North America, Australia, NZ, Japan, we are now receiving a growing number of requests for us to find the best deals on new dressage saddles for riders in countries whose economies are fast-growing, and therefore are creating 'wealthy classes' where leisure-time outdoor hobbies are very desirable. To many of these new dressage riders the sport offers fitness, discipline, prestige, companionship, plus a respectful one-on-one relationship between horse and rider. The statistic that dressage riding is one of the safest of all equestrian disciplines, for both rider and horse, gives that added bonus, so that rider and their family can enjoy a physical sport without the worry of having a serious injury. Long may the sport develop and grow, and we here in Great Britain look forward to many more Olympic Gold Medals!
The History Of Dressage
The riding discipline of Dressage has been dated back to classical Greek horsemanship and the military who trained their horses to perform movements which were intended to evade or attack the enemy in a battle. The earliest work on training horses was written by Xenophon, a Greek Military Commander born around 430 BC, whose book amazingly is still available as a current publication (available from Amazon.com).
Classical Dressage has been described by top Dressage judge, Dr.Josef Knipp, as ..." the gymnastic training of the horse's body together with loving education". After centuries of development in the military, and with Aristocrats in the Renaissance displaying this style of riding in regular pageants, the discipline was studied by the riding masters of each period, and this development went on to be the creation of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna in 1572, following which the dressage training of the today's period is based. In 1912 ‘Dressage’ became an Olympic sport at the Stockholm Olympics, but only for riders from the military, however in 1952 the sport allowed all men and women to participate and compete for the much prized medals, and dressage then became a sport for all ages, sexes and abilities, and became Modern Dressage as we know today. I do not have any statistics for the approximate numbers of dressage riders around the world today, but be assured that this figure is growing fast, and today it has developed into the fastest-growing Olympic equestrian sport. Demonstrations of high quality dressage riding are always great to watch, and below is a link to International French dressage rider, Alizee Froment, showing some amazing Grand Prix dressage movements on her horse Mistral, with NO BRIDLE, just a cord. Enjoy your riding!
Why do you need a Dressage Saddle to ride dressage ?
Many young riders 'get the bug' for dressage and start off on their own with the basic equipment, using their everyday all-purpose saddle, in the hope that one day mum or dad will buy them a dressage saddle for a birthday or christmas present! ... this is fine for starting off, as they can learn the simple dressage tests and maybe get help from a more qualified friend, or even pay for a trainer to teach them the skills. But to ride dressage correctly a dressage saddle is an essential, even it is one of the modern synthetic saddles, and there are many good dressage versions around at a reasonable price. In order to deliver the correct aids to the horse the rider needs a deep seat (so they can be secure and comfortable in their seat), and, depending on the breed of horse, a saddle with a reasonably narrow ‘twist' (the top of the seat at its narrowest point) so their legs can drop as close as vertically as possible to the flaps of the saddle, thus allowing the riders leg aids to be best transmitted to the horse. So for the above reasons, most dressage saddles are different from all-purpose and jump saddles in that they will have a vertically straight flap, as the rider will need to ride with a long leg position, and probably a deeper seat than most other types of saddle, although some riders of wider-bodied breeds of horse, will prefer a flat seat dressage saddle (generally called a close-contact dressage saddle) the latest trend in dressage saddles seems to be the monoflap model, which has a minimal thickness of leather to the horse’s back, enabling extra close-contact from the rider ‘s leg. The best current example of a monoflap dressage saddle is the Equipe Emporio monoflap dressage, which is a great saddle. Check the latest new saddle prices on our saddlesearch and contact us for any advice.... Use the contact form on this page, or click Saddlesearch.