Dressage In The Spotlight

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When nonhorsey folks ask me what dressage is, I do my best to explain it to them. I often ask them if they’ve ever seen the Rolex commercial where it looks as if the horse and rider are dancing. When I see the look of recognition in their eyes I tell them: That’s dressage. From there, I usually hear, “That’s so cool!”

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In the U.S., equestrian sport doesn’t get much prime-time media coverage. But in Europe, it’s an entirely different story. A perfect example is Great Britain’s dressage Olympian Charlotte Dujardin, who was voted BT Sport’s Action Woman of the Year 2014 and short-listed for the country’s Sports Personality of the Year 2014. And while we’re not likely to see that in America, all of us who are in the industry hope to push our favorite discipline farther and farther into the limelight.

This month, we learn more about our sport’s most popular event—the musical freestyle—from well-known FEI judges Axel Steiner and Anne Gribbons. In the first part of the story, Axel talks about how the freestyle has increased the popularity of dressage, drawing spectators, advertisers and even television broadcasts. But he warns that “to keep the entertainment value high, it is important to allow for creativity among the competitors and keep the freestyle creatively free. At the same time, we must stay true to the technical qualities of dressage.” Later, Anne explains how judges score the freestyle and what changes we could see in the future. Read “Keep the ‘Free’ In Freestyle” on p. 42.

Our cover model this month—another European sports celebrity—is Germany’s Ingrid Klimke. The New England Dressage Association invited her and Germany’s equestrian team veterinarian, Dr. Ina Goesmeier, to be guest clinicians at its 2014 symposium last November. A diverse crowd of riders from both the dressage and eventing communities attended the event to learn how to improve their horses’ fitness and balance by incorporating cavalletti into their training. DT’s own Beth Baumert was in attendance and wrote about some of the key training tips Ingrid covered in the clinic, including her emphasis on the need for a rider to be perfect with his or her hands. She instructed riders to have their hands together in front of the saddle by the withers. “The distance between them should be about the size of one fist,” she said. Read more on p. 28.

This is just a snippet of what’s inside this issue. We also hear from judge
Janet Foy on the new dressage tests for 2015, learn about riding while pregnant from two dressage professionals and an OB/GYN and hear how one adult amateur had her own moment in the spotlight at last year’s U.S. Dressage Finals.

Until next time ...

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