Defining Dressage Success

1 Jul

A popular definition of dressage is, ” 6 minutes of a rider looking to park the horse.”  Or, “horse ballet.”

These and other such definitions are part of the reason the sport is not popular .

It is a nice fantasy that dressage judging is the reason IOC is not happy with dressage.
IOC cares about money In, not statistics Out.
If dressage had its own Oleksandr Onyshchenko** (head of Ukraine Equestrian Federation, gas company magnate and show jumper rider, not to mention at one point owning all the horses that made up the Ukrainian team whose riders came from…several countries) or its own Mario Hoffmann** (head of Slovakian Endurance, banking magnate and endurance rider who stepped in to put on the 2016 World Endurance Championships when FEI suspended Endurance in the UAE), then dressage would,I remain confident, find the sponsors it so sorely needs to raise interest ,raise “media presence” and thus raise more money that IOC continually demands.

{ { ** Of course, both these hugely successful businessmen have been accused of corruption in their respective fields, but that is almost like a seal of approval, as hardly anyone can amass a fortune without being accused of something by somebody. Just ask Google.}}

The problem for equestrian sport is that it is relatively expensive to put on compared with track and field, let alone all the ball sports, gymnastics,etc. Relatively expensive and, thanks to a weak international umbrella federation, not really gaining in popularity except where it is already popular and Global Champions Tour has revved up interest.
Dressage judging and education , in fact, has never been better. Saying it can even be better still is of course true. Saying it is unfair, biased, scores are too variable within one test/one judge panel, basically is overkill.
In a large international class– 25,30 and more Grand Prix horses, most will get between 6 (Satisfactory) and 7 (fairly good).
AT this moment, there are only some 13 rider/horse combinations that have received 80 or better in a technical test. A score that would not even get them a spot on a regional team in gymnastics or figure skating.
This is because try as one may, judging a human athlete,aka Rider, performing with a non-human athlete, aka Horse…is not the same at all as any other sport or really, activity.
Show jumping and eventing have jumps and,of course, the reality that other than the pesky dressage in eventing, an absolutely clear way to judge who is winning and losing.
Dressage is about subtlety. It is about making something hard look easy. It is about partnership, harmony,and is defined best perhaps by the late,great Dr. Reiner Klimke: “to ride a great horse is to know a little better what it feels like to be a god.”
Dressage is about theater, about catharsis,about athleticism in much the same way that the ancient bull dances of Crete married awe and entertainment.



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