Dressage horseback riding is one of the oldest equestrian sports. The history of the sport dates all of the way back to the Renaissance. Originally these horses were trained for war, being used for transportation of weapons and people. The maneuvers that the horses were trained for battle were also used for sport to demonstrate agility and discipline.
To compete in dressage horse riding is considered an honor, as dressage is seen as one of the highest expressions of horse training. In this sport, both the rider and the horse are to perform a series of premeditated movements and maneuvers by memory. The purpose of this style of riding is to develop the horse’s natural athletic capabilities and to increase the horse’s willingness to perform. Well trained and obedient horses will make smooth movements and react quickly, making their performances look easy.
In the modern dressage competitions, the demonstration of successful horse training on a variety of different levels is held in a series of tests. These tests consist of a series of movements that are prescribed by judges within the standard judging area. During the competition, the judges are to evaluate each movement of the horse. The evaluations are based on the bias of the objective given. Each of the objectives is set to fit the appropriate level of the test. The judges then assign a score based off of these evaluations. The scores range from zero to ten, zero being the lowest score and ten being the most excellent.
In the lower, introductory stages of dressage horse riding, the horses are expected of very little and typically stick to walking and trotting. As the riders and horses increase in experience and skill, the challenges become more difficult to better suit their level of performance. The highest level of dressage competition in dressage riding is the Grand Prix level. This prestigious level of competition is held internationally in events such as the Olympic Games.