18 Apr, 24

Dressage 101: Quick Introduction from the Rama Dressage Foundation

Welcome to Dressage 101, your beginner-friendly introduction to the elegant and disciplined world of dressage. Whether you’re new to the sport or just curious, this guide will help you understand the basics of dressage, its terminology, and the different levels of competition. We’ll also introduce you to the Rama Dressage Foundation, Inc., and show you how you can get involved in supporting our mission through donations and events.

What is Dressage?

Dressage, often referred to as “horse ballet,” is a highly skilled form of riding performed in exhibitions and competitions. The word “dressage” comes from the French word “dresser,” meaning “to train.” It involves the rider and horse performing a series of predetermined movements, known as “tests,” from memory. The goal is to showcase the horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, resulting in a harmonious partnership between horse and rider.

Key Terminology
  • Arena: The rectangular area where dressage tests are performed, typically measuring 20×40 meters or 20×60 meters.
  • Aids: The cues given by the rider to communicate with the horse, including the seat, legs, hands, and voice.
  • Collection: A state where the horse’s weight is balanced more towards the hindquarters, allowing for greater agility and responsiveness.
  • Extension: The horse’s stride lengthens, covering more ground with each step while maintaining rhythm and balance.
  • Gaits: The natural movements of the horse, including walk, trot, and canter, each with variations in speed and collection.
  • Lateral Movements: Movements where the horse moves sideways or diagonally, such as leg-yield, shoulder-in, and half-pass.
  • Piaffe: A highly collected trot in place, demonstrating the horse’s strength and training.
  • Passage: A highly elevated and cadenced trot, showcasing the horse’s power and elegance.
Levels of Competition

Dressage competitions are structured into progressive levels, each building on the skills and movements learned in the previous one. Here are the main levels:

  • Introductory Level: Basic tests focusing on walking and trotting, designed for beginners and young horses.
  • Training Level: Introduces the center and basic transitions between gaits.
  • First Level: Adds more complex movements like lengthenings, 15-meter circles, and leg-yielding.
  • Second Level: Introduces collection, shoulder-in, travers (haunches-in), and simple changes of lead.
  • Third Level: Adds flying changes, extended gaits, and more advanced lateral movements.
  • Fourth Level: Features movements such as tempi changes, collected walk, and pirouettes.
  • FEI Levels: International competition levels including Prix St. Georges, Intermediate I and II, and Grand Prix, featuring the most advanced movements like piaffe, passage, and multiple flying changes.
The Mission of the Rama Dressage Foundation

The Rama Dressage Foundation, Inc., based in Jupiter, Florida, is dedicated to educating amateur young riders with a focus on athleticism and horsemanship through the gift of dressage. Our mission is to provide access to compete with foundation dressage schoolmasters at both national and international levels, regardless of background or financial means. We believe in the transformative power of dressage to teach lifelong lessons in discipline, responsibility, and perseverance.

How You Can Get Involved

We invite you to join us in supporting the next generation of dressage riders through various means of involvement:

  1. Donations: Your financial support helps us provide scholarships, maintain facilities, care for horses, and offer top-notch training.
  2. One-Time Gifts: Immediate impact for urgent needs.
  3. Yearly Giving: Sustained support for ongoing programs.
  4. Planned To Give: Long-term contributions through estate planning.
  • Events: Participate in our events to experience the joy of dressage and support our mission.
  • Competitions: Attend or volunteer at our competitions to see our riders in action.
  • Fundraisers: Join our fundraising events to help raise essential funds for our programs.
  • Clinics and Workshops: Learn more about dressage through expert-led clinics and workshops.
Why Your Support Matters

Your generosity fuels the growth of the Rama Dressage Foundation and its mission to teach lifelong lessons through dressage. By contributing, you help us create more impactful programs for our riders, horses, volunteers, and staff. Here’s what your support can do:

  • Enhance Training Programs: Provide access to top-tier coaching and resources.
  • Upgrade Facilities: Ensure our training grounds and stables are safe and inspiring.
  • Offer Scholarships: Enable talented riders to pursue their dreams without financial constraints.
  • Support Community Outreach: Introduce dressage to new audiences and foster a love for equestrian sports.
  • Develop Staff: Fund professional growth opportunities for our dedicated team.
Make a Difference Today with the Rama Dressage Foundation

We are passionate about the potential of dressage to change lives, and we need your help to continue this vital work. Whether through a one-time donation, yearly giving, or planned to give, your support is crucial. Every contribution, no matter the size, makes a significant impact.

Consider donating today. Join us in nurturing the next generation of dressage champions and help us continue to provide unparalleled opportunities for young riders. Together, we can ensure that the legacy of dressage endures, inspiring and educating for years to come.

Donate now and be a part of this transformative journey. Thank you for your support and commitment to the Rama Dressage Foundation!