Friday, August 3, 2012

Dressage

I am tired of people going on about dressage being 'expensive' and 'elitist'.

For every dressage rider riding Grand Prix on their 100k horse, there are hundreds competing at first level or even just enjoying dressage at home on whatever horse they happen to have at hand. Expensive? Yes, but not that expensive.

Let's see. The horse I was practicing on before he managed to pull his shoulder cost my trainer...a few loads of hay. The same with the Quarter Horse I'm hoping to take to a show next month. Both of them were seized due to neglect. The Quarter Horse is doing pretty decent intro and training level tests.

Another rider got third at the PVDA Ride for Life (Which is a major show) in introductory. Her horse? A 19 year old ex show hunter/schoolmaster. He's a 'breeding stock' Paint (almost no white on him, so no full papers).

The barn manager used to compete regularly on her 20+ year old Thoroughbred that she bought cheap from a college program before said horse injured herself. Another boarder took her horse to his first dressage show and did really well. He was 19.

ANY horse can do low level dressage, assuming said horse is sound, healthy and reasonably accustomed to English tack. Even gaited horses can do dressage, admittedly in their own segregated classes. And any reasonably competent rider can do low level dressage...honestly, a training level test is walk, trot, canter in both directions and do circles.

Dressage is no more elitist than any other equestrian sport (and perhaps slightly less so than racing, although horses at claiming tracks are within the ownership reach of the middle class).

I think people are singling it out because it is the hardest equestrian sport for a non-rider to understand. You can watch a horse do a show jumping round and understand what's going on and what the goal is (not to hit poles). Dressage is tougher. But you don't need to have a $50,000 (approx. value of my trainer's *personal* horse) to have fun doing it. You don't even need to own your own horse.