Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Equestrian Dressage - Tests & Movements

At the international level, dressage tests governed by the FEI. are the Prix St. Georges, Intermediare I, Intermediare II, and Grand Prix. The dressage tests performed at the Olympic Games Dressage competition are Grand Prix. This level of test demands the most skill and concentration from both horse and rider.

Movements included in Grand Prix dressage tests are:

Piaffe is a dressage movement where the horse is in a highly collected and cadenced trot, in place or nearly in place. The center of gravity of the horse should be more towards the hind end, with the hindquarters slightly lowered and great bending of the joints in the hind legs. The front end of the horse is highly mobile, free, and light, with great flexion in the joints of the front legs, and the horse remains light in the hand. The horse should retain a clear and even rhythm, show great impulsion, and ideally should have a moment of suspension between the foot falls. As in all dressage, the horse should perform in a calm manner and remain on the bit with a round back.

Passage is a movement done at the trot, in which the horse has great elevation of stride and seems to pause between putting down its feet (it has a great amount of suspension in the stride). Described very well like a horse "trotting under water", it takes great strength and training to get a good passage.

Extended gaits is usually done at the trot and canter, the horse lengthens its stride to the maximum length through great forward thrust and reach. Grand Prix horses show amazing trot extensions.

Collected gaits (trot and canter) is a shortening of stride movement in which the horse brings its hindquarters more underneath himself and carries more weight on his hind end. Takes a great amount of strength. The tempo does not change, the horse simply shortens and elevates his stride.

Flying changes, informally called "tempi" at this level. In this movement horse changes leads at the canter every stride (one tempi or "oneseys"), two strides (two tempi), or three strides (three tempi).

Pirouette is a 360 or 180 (depending on the level) degree turn in place, usually performed at the canter.

Half-pass is a movement where the horse goes on a diagonal, moving sideways and forward at the same time, while bent slightly in the direction of movement.

Tests ridden at the Olympic Games are scored by a panel of five international judges. Each movement in each test receives a numeric score from 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest) and the resulting final score is then converted into a percentage, which is carried out to three decimal points. The higher the percentage, the higher the score. Olympic team medals are won by the teams with the highest, second highest, and third highest total percentage from their best three rides in the Grand Prix test.

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