What is Dressage?

Me and Fez competing at Myerscough College

Dressage is the training of horses in obedience and the execution of precise movements.

The idea of dressage is to gradually enable the horse to carry more of his own and his rider’s weight over his hindquarters than over his forehand. This mobilizing and strengthening of the hindquarters (which provide the motive power as if the horse had rear wheel drive) results in lightening of the forehand and a horse that is much easier to steer and to stop, and more elegant and expressive in it’s movements.

Classical dressage can be translated as “fine training” – capriole, piaffe, levade – yet it’s more than that. It defines quality in horsemanship at every stage, even at, and most importantly at, the “lowest levels”.

Classical dressage is about aspiring to perfection; perfect communication, perfect balance, perfect coordination, perfect feel, perfect timing, perfect harmony this is the ethos behind all my dressage training. Relentlessly striving to improve skill and understanding and raising the bar, yet never being satisfied that we, as riders, have truly achieved perfection on our part. We can always be more subtle in our aiding. We can always have more feel. However, this striving for perfection is not just so we can pat ourselves on the back, thinking we’re somehow superior. It is truly because when we strive to ride better, it’s beneficial to the horse. The purpose behind classical dressage training is to improve the experience for the horse. Characteristics of classical dressage training are, imperceptible aids given by the rider, precision and light contact with the bit that results from gymnastically increasing the bending and weight carrying ability of the haunches and an obvious expression of enjoyment in the horse.

Horses that are strong enough and riders who are interested can go on to the extremely collected movements and airs above the ground. That said, most horses are not that strong, and many riders are not interested in pursuing dressage to that extent, however, they can still uphold classical values when they ride their best for the good of their horses.

It is a matter of physics; the horse’s immense strength becomes more available to him as he uses himself more efficiently. Dressage requires the obedience in the exercises, this strength is also instantly available to the rider.

With over 20 years of experience Fiona has a straight forward and sympathetic approach to dressage training; helping you to improve your riding and your horses’ way of going, whatever your chosen discipline.

With expert advice on structuring your daily training program up to planning a competition schedule, I will help you to achieve your personal goals!


Fiona Hulme is a National Champion freelance dressage trainer / instructor based in Comberbach,Cheshire.

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