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Originally developed as a method for training military horses, the centuries-old discipline of dressage, which is a French term meaning “training,” was used to increase the maneuverability and obedience of cavalry mounts with some of the very advanced movements being taught specifically as battle techniques. The specific purpose for dressage is to develop a horse’s natural athletic ability and maximize its suppleness and attentiveness, all the while fostering ultimate harmony between horse and rider.

In today’s world, competitive dressage is recognized as one of the three equestrian Olympic disciplines, and is also a method for showcasing all levels of training in a competitive format. Currently, there are nine progressive levels of competition, open to any breed of horse and available for all levels of riders, in which the horse and rider perform compulsory exercises. Special classes such as musical freestyle offer creativity and individual expression for the exhibitors and have become spectator favorites. To learn more about the discipline of dressage, visit the United States Dressage Federation at usdf.org.