Friday, October 30, 2009


So just what is dressage? Many of you would be at least a little familiar with this, one dictionary describes dressage as: n. The guiding of a horse through a series of complex maneuvers by slight movements of the rider's hands, legs, and weight.

Another put it as the art or method of training a horse in obedience and in precision of movement. And in SL ponyplay these are both true, with some small differences.

Essentially, this is a test of just how precisely a pony can follow instructions, how well-trained he or she is, and how well they understand their owner or trainer.

In addition, it also gives the pony a chance to show of how graceful they can be.

The pony and trainer will line up, side by side, at the front of the dressage field, usually marked with a block with the letter "A" printed on it.

At this point, the pony's handler would have been given a card listing the required exercises on. Not all parts of the field are used for a single dressage event run.

For a competition dressage event, the trainer then gives the pony a prearranged signal, practised of course before the event, at which they both take 2 steps onto the field.

During the event, there should only ever be the pony and it's trainer on the field, and no one else should walk onto it.

Once the 2 steps are taken, trainer and pony bow, facing the slalom poles at the opposite end. Ideally the steps and bow would be timed to be synchronized.

For a competitive event, once the bow is done, the trainer will then indicate to the pony which exercise she is to complete with a vocal command, or more commonly, a signal.

The pony "reads" the signal and takes their position on the appropriate marker.

For example, if exercise "B" was the first routine on the trainer's card, the trainer would stand inside the circle marked on the right with the letter "J", level with the marker in the center of the "B" and "J", but facing the letter "B".

The pony reads this as the trainer level with and facing the marker for "B", and should then take its place on the starter marker for this routine.

This exercise requires the pony to walk on the white lines, in a figure of 8 three times, walking from the start marker, around circle "B", crossing into circle "J" and around it, back to the start marker, and repeating another 2 times.

The pony is judged by how closely it follows and keeps to the lines on the ground.

Confused? I was at first, but once it had been explained and shown to me, I was appalled with myself at just how simple the concept really is.

Feel free to ask in a pony group for someone to help you to learn this, or ask me in world. If I can help, I will gladly try.

More next week on dressage, just to make sure I don't scare you all away - honestly, after a few runs, you will be amazed at just how easy it is to figure out.

Perfect lines however, is not so easy.

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