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The dressage classes - what is required in which class?
Dressage has long been firmly anchored in equestrian sports. Historically, the horse has long been used as a farm animal to transport means of transport. The use in the military changed the demands on the horse so that it should be obedient, attentive and sensitive. It should also carry and support a rider, which is why it required training with a lot of know-how and patience from then on. Dressage riding has the fundamental goal of gymnastics for the horse with the help of various exercises, to ensure that the horse is kept healthy and to improve the horse's basic gaits. Furthermore, dressage aims to create harmony between rider and horse, as well as to promote the horse's natural movement. In our wehorse dressage category, we have put together great courses from top trainers. How do you get started in dressage and what do you have to pay attention to in the different classes of dressage? We'll tell you in our blog post.
- Which dressage classes are there?
- The dressage classes variations
- What do you have to pay attention to before you start in a dressage class?
- Excursus on jumping and eventing classes
Which dressage classes are there?
If you've ridden a tournament before, or want to ride a tournament in the future, sooner or later you will stumble across the terms of the dressage classes. If you are unsure which exam to name and what the difference between A * and A ** is, we have created a good overview for you: Let's start from an early age. In order to give young riders in particular a feeling for the course of a tournament, there are lead reins classes and equestrian competitions. These exams are not defined as a separate class and stand on their own. Then comes the e-dressage. The E stands for beginners and paves the way for the entry level into dressage riding. Based on this, there are dressage classes for beginners, also called A dressage. This is followed by L-dressage and the L should stand for easy. The L dressages are really not easy. What works as a good memory aid looks challenging in practice. The following M dressage classes are declared as “medium” in terms of difficulty, but your horse must be very well trained in order to be able to run an M dressage class. Last but not least, there is the most difficult dressage class, as the name suggests, S dressage. It is also ridden internationally as a Grand Prix with the additional lessons of piaffe and passage.
The dressage classes variations
Within a class there are delimitations with asterisks. Sooner or later you will come across the terms A * or A **. The * should help to mark exams with different levels of difficulty. For example, in A * dressage, the lesson will be required to lengthen the kicks instead of the middle trot. This should simplify the transition to the next class and give the riders an orientation. If it does not work out so well with some lessons, the rider can first try out an exam with one star less.
The dressage class E: For beginners
Everyone is a beginner in dressage. It is therefore an advantage to know what is required in an e-dressage class. Every beginner should be able to show that he has mastered the basics of dressage for horse and rider. In an e-dressage you ride different hoofbeat figures such as a circle, halfway through the path or a serpentine line. In addition, all gaits are queried in an e-dressage so that you have to show the step, the trot and the canter. So that the judges can grade how well you can communicate with your horse, an e-dressage is mainly ridden in one department. This represents a further challenge, because the rider is no longer responsible only for himself, but also for a harmonious departmental riding. Your ride in an e-dressage will be graded according to the rideability of your horse, your seat and the overall impression. If you want to prepare even more for your start in e-dressage, then we have just the right blog post for you here. In an e-dressage, sitting out is queried in addition to light trotting. If you find it difficult sometimes, you will find the right help in this wehorse course.
Class A dressage: More than just beginners
A dressage is aimed at dressage beginners and builds on the requirements of e-dressage. In addition to these, lessons such as voltes, backward straightening, chewing reins out of the hand, painting over or reducing / enlarging a square are queried. In addition, it is no longer just basic gaits that are required. You should be able to show the middle trot and middle canter with your horse. For a good evaluation in an A dressage, both you and your horse should have a solid basic training. Basic training includes, for example, the correct use of your aids. In this wehorse course you can get an overview of whether you are acting correctly. A dressage classes can also be ridden in a department, so you should be familiar with departmental riding. Care is also taken to ensure that the lessons are shown in a fixed order and at the point. Your aids should therefore be very precise and harmonious for a good grade.
The dressage class L: Not as easy as the name suggests
In an L dressage, the reinforcements such as the middle trot and middle canter are added to the gatherings. As a rider, you should be able to properly gather your horse so that it kicks under the center of gravity. The assembled lessons, such as assembled trot and assembled canter, are explicitly mentioned in an L dressage task so that rider and horse should clearly show the transition between working trot and assembled trot. Furthermore, in an L dressage, 8m volts are added to the trot or short turns. The aim of these lessons is to show that your horse is standing correctly on the aids and that it can be correctly positioned and bent. A short turn is also called a hindquarters turning in the step, whereby the horse steps “around the inner thigh” and kicks a small circle with the hind legs. The outside canter is also queried in an L class dressage. Typically, hoofbeat figures are used that imply a change of hands. Switching through halfway, turning out of a corner, or switching out of the circle are usually used to switch hands. For the outside canter, you have to stay in hand canter and hold your horse there with the appropriate assembly. With the simple change from canter to walk, you change to hand canter. If you are unsure about the new lessons in L dressage, then take a look at this course. There you will learn step by step from Olympic champion Ingrid Klimke how you can safely master the jump from A dressage to L dressage. L dressage classes can be ridden on both a bridle and a curb.
The dressage class M: Medium requirements for professionals
A medium level dressage cannot be said to have a medium level of difficulty. Whereas the previous dressage classes are ridden on a 20 × 40 square, M level dressage can also be ridden on a 20 × 60 square. In addition, M dressage classes are only ridden with the curb bridle. In order to check the rider's corresponding aids in the position and bending even more, lateral movements are increasingly added in an M level dressage. You should be able to show shoulder-in and traversal correctly with your horse. Traversals are also often queried in different variations, for example as half or double traversals. If you're having trouble riding a traversal properly or are just starting the lesson, take a look at this course. There you can see exactly how a traversal is practiced and ridden. In addition to the side movements, reinforcements are also queried in an M dressage. In addition to the working trot and middle trot from the A and L dressage, there is the strong trot. Accordingly, it is important to work on tempo changes, gathering and reinforcement. The judges evaluate, among other things, whether the differences were clearly shown. In preparation for the next dressage class, flying changes are queried in an M dressage. Where simple changes were previously asked for, flying changes represent a challenge for many riders. The successful Grand Prix rider and author Dr. Britta Schöffmann can relieve you of despair in her course "Change of canter simply & flying" by explaining step by step how to change canter.
The dressage class S: The highest class
The most difficult of all dressage classes is S dressage. Internationally, a distinction is made between St. George, Grand Prix and Grand Prix Spezial. The M-Dressage prepares for the difficult dressage lessons, which are queried in this class. Individual traversals are no longer required, but so-called zigzag traversals. The horse and rider in the middle change direction, traversing to the other side. The level of difficulty is increased because you have to move your horse around in a quick reaction and the position and bend on both sides must be quickly accessible. A flying change from M dressage turns into a series change in S dressage. Series changes mean that you should change several flying changes within a hoof beating figure, for example through the entire track, and that a series emerges from this. In an advanced level dressage, the lessons passage and piaffe are also queried. These can only arise from the right gathering and be shown through harmony between rider and horse. With a piaffe, the horse should step out of the trot on the spot under the center of gravity and take the load with the hind legs. The two lessons require a lot of practice and training. In this course, our trainers will show you how you can teach your horse a piaffe.
Instructor Anja Beran shows you the fine dressage and the training in higher lessons on the basis of this course. If your horse tends to be crooked, she has the right advice for you.
What do you have to pay attention to before you start in a dressage class?
In a dressage test, attention is always paid to the overall picture. The harmony between rider and horse plays a major role in the beginners' tests up to the advanced level. The aim of dressage is to exercise the horse and improve the basic gaits. Therefore your seat, your influence and your aids are very important for dressage riding. In order to be sufficiently qualified to start a dressage test, you have to take certain badge tests in advance. This ensures that you meet the requirements of the dressage classes. Riders tend to overestimate themselves, especially in the beginner and beginner area. In order to avoid this, the rider must remove the small or large badge before starting a tournament test. In these, theoretical basic knowledge in horse training and handling horses is queried, as well as practical dressage and jumping tests of the corresponding class. If nothing stands in the way of your tournament start, you should make sure that you and your horse are appropriately dressed. In addition to the basic equipment, bridle, saddle, boots and helmet, you should wear white breeches, white gloves and a suitable riding jacket. In order to prepare you ideally for the requirements of your exam, we have a good overview for you in this course. There you will be given helpful information on the basic lessons such as breaking in, which you can implement well in your next exam.
Excursus on jumping and eventing classes:
In jumping and eventing, the division into classes is similar to that in dressage. It is also started with an entry-level class “show jumper” or “terrain rider”. Building on this comes the E jumping / terrain and the A jumping / terrain. It continues with the L jumping / terrain, as well as M jumping / terrain. In jumping comes the S-jumping, but there is a crucial difference in versatility. After an M-Versatility, there is an international exam called CCI-S or CCI-L. The S stands for short and the L for long and refers to the length of the cross-country route. In jumping and eventing, too, the level of difficulty within a class is indicated with the aid of *. Thus, an S **** jumping is the most difficult jumping test and a CCI **** is the most difficult eventing test.
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