An Art Form
Classical-dressage can be considered an art. Adding passion and expression to the techniques of riding and training leads a rider into a whole new perception of horses, dressage and communicating with the horse. It begins to resemble a dance of two partners.
"Dressage is a French term meaning “training” and its purpose is to develop the horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to work making him calm, supple and attentive to his rider."
We differentiate classical-dressage as an art form from dressage as a competitive sport. Dressage as a competitive sport aims to measure the riders ability to communicate, and the horses ride-ability as a means to a destination. The destination being a high score relative to other competitors. You can also think of it as a series of tests to measure progress of a horse's training relative to a scale.If the task therefore is to maximize the ride-ability of the horse, using the tools mentioned in Communicating, then dressage is, and can be, an end in itself. And as such, and at its highest level it becomes an art form as practiced by many schools of classical-dressage.
Other definitions of Dressage include:
--Haute Ecole: a series of intricate steps, gaits, etc., taught to an exhibition horse.
--the art or method of training a horse in obedience and in precision of movement.
--dressage: The guiding of a horse through a series of complex maneuvers by slight movements of the rider's hands, legs, and weight.
--[French, preparation, training, dressage, from dresser, to set up, arrange, train, from Old French drecier,;
dressage.The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.
aims at maximizing the ride-ability of the horse as an end in itself. The end for the rider being the intellectual and spiritual gratification of being able to thus communicate so harmoniously with the horse.
Classical-Dressage ... as a dance...
I like to think of riding as a dance between horse and rider. The perfecting of the dance can be a form of art.
It is difficult to find a definition for art that is agreed upon by everyone. But to describe riding as an art form I like to use the definition:
--Art can connote a sense of trained ability or mastery of a medium.
--Art is the product of a creative impulse that expresses unconsciously the emotion of the artist and can arouse emotion in a person viewing this creative impulse.
--Art is the process or product of deliberately and creatively arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotion.
Art.(n.d).. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.
Compare classical-dressage to dancing with the perfect partner.
The connectivity of the bodies are like one body producing a fluid sequence of movements. This is further enhanced by the apparent contrast in body mass between the horse and rider, and the understanding that the language of communication is a learned language by both … human and horse.
Even if you have no knowledge of dressage... you will be captivated by the beauty and harmony of horse and rider, dancing their way through a musical free style or the movements such as the Piaffe, Passage, and Pirroette.
The journey of training and practicing with a horse to achieve this ultimate of equestrian "art forms" is challenging, difficult and rewarding.
Classical dressage never gets old, (no matter how old you get :) )and there are as many new things to learn each day as there are horses in the world. It is the "ultimate" way to communicate with your horse through body language. It is a true partnership. It is a meeting of souls..... It is an expression of art.