Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Dressagistas

Over the last decade there has been an enormous growth in the popularity of dressage. This has taken place all over the country and at all levels, from the lowliest walk and trot test for beginners to competitions at grand prix for aspiring Olympians.

Years ago, dressage might have been dismissed by some as "a few toffs in top hats getting their horses to walk sideways," but some perceptions have changed, particularly as a result of the increased prominence of the kur or dressage to music and global star performers.

Combinations like Isabel Worth and Gigolo and Anky Van Grusven on Bonfire and then Salinero have attracted large followings and worldwide acclaim.

Large sums of money are now routinely spent on suitable horses, equipment and training at every level in the sport.

A “dressage mindset” also seems to have evolved. This takes various forms and can involve the simple dedication of a committed individual to training and advancing in competition. On some yards it is more  “girly” and mannered, centred chiefly upon the merits of any pink and sparkly bling and the acid critique of any less slim or accoutred rider or horse. The female liveries are just as bad.   
As well as the riders, dressage involves judges, writers, sponsors and trainers: here are the stories of some of them....

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