Dressage – What is Dressage?

Origins, History, Present State, Perversion.

    This article is somewhat longer than most on this site, but once you get past the first few paragraphs it becomes more interesting, while also shedding some light on many common confusions regarding this type of training, conditioning and preparation of a horse for riding purposes.  

A bronze statue of a Greek school horse from the 5th century A.D. To a person that is familiar with the court riding school, this statue demonstrates the very obvious transition from piaffe to levade. This statue alone shows how far back the parade style dressage goes.

      As mentioned in other articles on this website, the Internet is not an information highway but rather primarily a misinformation highway, similar to most of equine publications like magazines and such. If you see it as such you will become more skeptical of what is written on the Internet and in the magazines, and rightly so.
       Most, however, make a great mistake, especially people interested in equine education, because they go and THINK that by surfing the internet they will find more information, and unfortunately THINK that they will recognize what is truth and what is not, or that the information provided by those they call reputable people or websites is the truth. 
      This, of course, is completely illogical, unless the person is able to go to the real world to verify the information in practice, or is at least able to see it (see lion tamer reality below). So, we are back to the same thing: that truth must be seen and is not subject to human interpretation, understanding, logic, reasoning, feelings or beliefs.  
    There is more nonsense published on the Internet about dressage than about anything else related to horses that I am aware of, but when carefully looking at everything one can actually see this nonsense in the published word alone. Because the publications are self-contradicting, again one must be perceptive to see it, and spending a lot of time with horses will teach a man to become more perceptive of motions and realities.

      Many folks, when explaining dressage, deliver some “facts” provided by some historians and/or some people that supposedly searched in history for the origins of dressage. Now we ask, what is history? History is nothing but a collection of writings by people that tried to keep records of things that happened in a particular society, region and time, and there were not many of those individuals in any given period when horse training began.         
     Unfortunately the historian recorded either what he saw or what he heard and how he interpreted it and mainly, how he described it. Adding all this together, one must accept the possibility of errors or omissions. In other words, questions arise about how much he missed, how much was misinformation, how much was misinterpretation, where he lived, what his surroundings were, how he perceived things and how he expressed himself through his writing, the last two being the major problems with recording history, causing much inaccuracy.  
   
There are traces of it everywhere even today; I’ve experienced it recently and many times before. For example, I’ve tried to have my articles edited by folks who edit for living and every time they did, they ended up with something different than what I’d written. I had to rewrite most of the articles that describe various activities around horses, because the people were simply editing an article that they did not understand, because they were not horsemen. 
    From this another question arises about reading the books and writings from the so-called masters of the various horse schools in the past. If and when the books were written by writers or edited by editors that were not horsemen, chances are that these books contain some misinformation, due to misunderstanding by the writers and editors.  In addition to this, when these books are translated into another language they become even grater source of misinterpretations, since most were done by language experts with no education, let alone awareness, about the life of horses and horsemen.
   
Furthermore, one must be aware of the time and location where these so-called masters lived and practiced their professions, because it is very relevant to what they did and what they wrote about. Also, one must realize that these publications were mainly intended for professionals and none of these so-called masters intended for the books to be read by the public. This is clearly expressed by Podhajsky's writings, wherein he clearly states that reading of his book will do more harm than good to people that are not experienced in what he is writing about, but most readers simply ignore that warning.                               
  Furthermore, most dictionaries are particularly inaccurate when it comes to the equine terminology, because the folks that put them together obviously did not take enough time to research various terms in the horse industry, which is understandable since it hardly carries any importance in our society these days. In the old days the terminology was also extremely confusing, since much of horsemanship was more regional, thus creating its own language reflecting the particular area. 
    Finally, when one gets to read a translation of books like these, he really has to know (be experienced in) what the writer is writing about in order to literally decipher the book. So those who go and search for information in various books and publications and then go and talk about dressage are those that create the majority of nonsense (the more they read the dumber they get). 
    In short, all writings by horsemen are unreliable sources of information for the non-horsemen that seek it, because it is subject to all of the above and mainly to the comprehension of the reader, which is again subject to the reader's experience with horses.  
    Since most publications of the past were written by horsemen (people who make their living working with horses), the amateurs who read them simply cannot comprehend anything found in these books. Only horsemen have a realistic perception of horses (this isn’t an issue of intellect but awareness), while most amateurs never grew out of their fictitious concept of horses going back to their childhood days filled with talking-animal stories and cartoons. (Note most women will tell you that they WANTED TO HAVE THEIR OWN HORSE since they were little girls. When they grow up their dream "comes true" and I pity any horse that fulfills it.)  


The "Freiheitsdressur", just in case you still don't get the word "dressur", German for dressage, which obviously has nothing to do with the equestrian dressage, but today it does.

Lion Tamer (Dresseur or Dompteur)

Has to look ferocious and ...

 ...then he "dares to put his face against the ferocious beast. It is all cheap gimmicks, just like dressage is today. It is all for the public entertainment sake, as dressage is today.
    The word dressage itself is not a very old word, and if someone looks back in history for dressage he will not get very far. We must begin by defining the word and then search back through history for the activity that the word dressage describes, hence dressage can simply exist way before the creation of the word itself, because the word describes a particular equine activity and is not a name for something or someone.  
    Bypassing the modern incorrect term (see below), the word dressage itself seems to have its origins in the French language (goes back to Latin) for preparation, training, dressage, from dresser, to set up, arrange, train, from Old French drecier, to set up, arrange. Hence the word has European origins and spread first in Europe before it reached England and other countries like the US and such. 
    In the English language, the term ‘Lion Tamer’ is used for a person that shows lions in the circus. In Europe, the term ‘Lion Dresseur’ (or dompteur = tamer, or animal trainer) is used in many languages, with the word ‘lion’ different in each, while the word ‘dresseur’ sounds just about the same in most languages, again pointing to its French origins. The European term ‘dresseur’ more accurately describes the activities used in training lions for the circus than the word tamer (a trainer of animals in the circus is simply called a dresseur in some languages, even the trainers of horses), because it more or less refers to dressing up and arranging (been there, worked there and took part in this activity). 

    For example, when a young lion comes to the circus, it’s scared shitless, much as wild horses are. After a while it adjusts itself to the environment but remains afraid, and most lions just sit on the various seats alongside the inside of a cage and look like big pussycats (not all, but most, while some look for an escape). 
    If and when you see a lion in the circus pinning its ears, striking its paw towards the trainer and opening its mouth and roaring, it is all dressed up (set-up, trained, phony; hence dresseur). They are trained to do this, to look and appear ferocious, and some are so timid that they will never learn.
    Now imagine what a historian would write if he weren’t aware that the striking and roaring is taught by the dresseur (in training, by purposely agitating the animal). He would describe the scenario as vicious beasts handled by a brave man, even though the lion is one of the most timid predators in the circus, and the most dangerous, the polar bear (white grizzly), hardly makes any gestures or sounds before it attacks the performer (I’ve met and work with such a man). 
    I am pointing this out in order to show just how easy it is to misunderstand something if one does not know what he is looking at, and so it is with horses. Hence if you are looking and don’t know what you are looking at, you will simply misunderstand the whole display and then go home and tell stories about something that doesn’t exist. This is how misinformation is born, especially when people talk about dressage on the Internet (99.9% genuine nonsense).
    So, the word dressage merely describes the activity of dressing up or setting up or arranging; in short, in the world of human-horse relations, it simply refers to training a riding horse for a particular purpose-in other words, schooling a horse. 

    The word dressage was not used in many countries and it was often (depending on the region) not even used by those who performed the so-called classical dressage. The words classical dressage are for the most part a stupid invention by those who wish to add some extra respect to what they’re doing, thinking that it could have the same meaning as classical music, often referring to riding horses as some sort of art. 
    Most of the people (especially in the US ) who use the term “classical dressage” (outside the Vienna Court Riding School and a few others) have no clue what they are looking at. They’re like the people that invented the word “tamer” for those that present lions in the circus, where the main point of training is to make the lion appear as a furious beast rather than a pussycat, since the latter would hardly gain any respect for the performer. 
    In dressage these days they do something similar, telling people about how dressage is some form of higher training of a riding horse, requiring concentration, a lot of study and God knows what other nonsense they add to justify their stupid activities while trying to retain the respect of the viewers. 

    These days it’s nothing but a circus display and hence they are simply nothing but comedians. In order to cover up this comedian style of riding they have removed the word “show” by no longer calling it a dressage show but a dressage competition. 
    There is no classical dressage, because there is no classical training of horses: horses remain horses regardless the time, usage or region, but what there is and always was, from the time people started to school riding horses, is a riding school for horses. This means that a dressage horse is nothing but a schooled horse (riding school graduate), and horses presented should be horses that finished the school, not a horse that is in the process of being schooled-hence all the lower levels are for fools, most of whom don’t get out of these lower levels in their lifetime.

   This is why I say that most of the dressage participants are mentally challenged (most of those in the lower levels), because if it takes the rider three or five years to graduate the first grade he must be mentally challenged. The horses being presented in the three lower levels of dressage are horses that should have finished a basic remount training, which is normally completed in ten months. 
    There are basically three levels of training a riding horse: first, the basic remount training (new horse, new mount), which is then sold for any riding purposes, like for the military. The second level is more specialized training of the horse for the campaign and such. Then there is the third level, which was referred to in the more modern days as dressage, and this was meant to refer to a higher level of training, mainly higher collection and a higher output of energy in a fairly small area. 
    The main purpose of the higher education (or training) had more to do with physical conditioning than with some refined training, though the former is achieved through the latter. It simply ensured getting a horse very fit without risking injury to him; in other words, it was the safest way to get the horse fit. 
    For a better understanding, the purpose of dressage was to condition the horse to the point that it kept itself in the campaign level of collection and balance constantly while the rider was on top; the more simplified version refers to it as “self carriage adjusted to the weight of the rider.” (This is why the military style of dressage was also very useful for any type of riding horse, because it improved its specialized performance, like a hunter or jumper and such. In this day and age, however,  dressage is no longer practiced and the style that replaced it (thought it’s still called by the same name), competitive dressage, will actually hurt your horse and will lower its performance in jumping and other riding activities).
   
Unfortunately, most again fail to understand the concept of the so-called self-carriage (the horse voluntary/willingly staying in the campaign level balance because it becomes his second nature due to the higher level of training for riding purposes, dressage) and THINK that it can be accomplished by training and by constantly reminding the horse to stay in a certain form (frame or whatever they THINK a balanced horse means). 

The typical "self-carriage" by the campaign horse obviously achieved thorough systematic training in dressage. 
Note both loose reins.

    The so-called self-carriage is not an issue of training but physical conditioning and dressage riding (higher level of training) mainly served that purpose in the latter days of many of the European cavalries of professional soldiers (dragoons, hussars etc). The US cavalry did not practice it, outside of some individuals, and most of the cavalry soldiers were farmers on horses (cowboys). 
   
It had the same purpose in the old court riding schools, where the monarch or nobleman did not want to actually ride the horse, but wanted to be presented on well-balanced, reliable and energetic horse. It would have been extremely embarrassing for the monarch to travel in a parade on some dead horse moving in a form like “Western Pleasure.” 
    Therefore, again, the horse was mainly conditioned (not just trained) to retain a certain level of balance and collection all on its own at all times; the horse carried itself in a “Royal Fashion,” or dressed (dressage). 
    Xenophon writes about it, roman statues present it, baroque style paintings show it, and one does not need to read anything; just by looking at the paintings or statues one can see the similarities of this type of royal presentation of horses (see top image)
    Now the more schooled the horse is in dressage, the less the rider does on the horse, so he looks like he is doing nothing; in essence, he is doing almost nothing, which points out the stupidity of today’s dressage riders, because they THINK that advanced riding (presentation) in dressage requires a great amount of concentration or some higher form of intellect. 
    The presentation of a top-level dressage horse requires only a mediocre rider, while the training, preparation (dressing up) and conditioning requires an excellent rider and a horseman. That’s why this was available for the nobleman and royalty only and in the first part of the last century for the rich, because they could afford to keep on a payroll (as their own) these fine riders and trainers. 

    In the latter part of the last century, the obsession with personal sophistication (human intellect) grew, and dressage attracted people of the sort who THINK they can do it because they are more intelligent. 
 

    The fine riders and horsemen simply died out because there was no one to pay them or hire them; they are almost all gone and their way of riding with them. All that remains from it are various forms of nonsense, misrepresentations and misinterpretations. Hence dressage does not exist anywhere in the world anymore; only the name remains, which is associated with a form of dressage parody, making them clowns. 
    I saw and worked for/with some very fine old horsemen in my younger days (I've ridden under their extremely strict supervision), I saw them die and I see no new ones, nor I am remotely anything like them, but I’ve learned enough from them to see the huge difference between now and then (almost a half a century).

   That which many people refer to as classical dressage is actually the “Court School.” 
    In times where horses were used for work, most horses were not schooled (trained). Horses were either used for a particular purpose till they adjusted to it or people purchased them already adjusted. In other words, a person purchased a young horse, hitched it to the cart (usually with an old horse) and went. The horse jumped few times, and then day-by-day it adjusted and started to work.
    The education of common people was almost nonexistent; most were as uneducated as their horses. Education and training was primarily reserved for the rich and the upper class, and a limited education and training was available for the military that protected the educated rich folks, which of course is reflected in the contemporary use of horses, since the horse carried such huge importance in social development. 
    So now, we have it all simplified and the reality stares us in the face just by knowing some basic history in the development of the human-horse relationship. The peasants did not trained their horses, therefore “dressage” did not come from them and it was only the rich and the military that genuinely trained their riding horses (or had their horses trained) for a particular service. So we have two types of training right from the beginning: one for the royalty and noblemen and one for the military. 
    The schooling of a horse for the royalty (noblemen) was of course at the highest level, because the king, having a first choice, had in his court the best riders and trainers. The king could not go on a parade after a victory in battle and get dumped by the horse in a front of all the people, since that is for some reason perceived (even today) as extremely humiliating. 
    So the importance of extremely well-trained and reliable horse finds its need and use in the courts of the royalty and noblemen, and that which the idiots call “classical dressage” is actually the “ Royal Court Riding School ,” a term used similarly to the Spanish Court Riding School
    So, the Spanish Court Riding School in Vienna (or France) can call its dressage classical, because it is a school that still schools their horses in many ways in that form, while the rest of the world, including the circus people (Florida Lipizzaners) present only some self-humiliating parody of it. By dethroning a monarch, a country will lose the monarch’s ways and the class that goes with it, while all just become peasants with or without money. 
    The word classical in dressage refers more or less to a higher class of horse presentation (riding), rather than to some old form of riding. There is nothing more ridiculous than a peasant trying to look like a king, because genuine royalty comes from blood, just as with a good horse. So if someone says that he or she is riding classical dressage, then he or she is a complete idiot unless he or she is working and riding in either of the two riding schools. 
    In the old days the term “riding school” referred to a school for horses, not to a school for people to learn how to ride. 
    The school in Vienna produces its own riders and since it presents the Spanish Court riding, it suitably uses a horse rich in the blood of the Old Spanish horse, the Lipizzaner. 
    If and when you see a person with a Lipizzaner copying the Viennese training, he or she is nothing else but a peasant with money trying to look noble (classy), so I use the term “parody.”

    The word classical is a term that the Vienna folks most likely adopted to separate themselves from the rest of the modern cavalry, because they retained most (not all) of the old court ways in preparing the horse for a parade (royal presentation). They did, however, adopt many of the ways of those that they separated themselves from. 
    The separation between the royal court and military styles of riding began in the days when warfare changed dramatically due to the use of firearms. The Napoleonic era, of course, just increased the separation of these two riding schools. This obvious separation of the parade riding school from the military school becomes clearly apparent at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. 
    I myself have witnessed and lived both of these different types of schooling horses, because I had the chance to work and ride for both types of very fine riders/trainers who lived during that period. I believe that the Viennese started to use the term classical to retain respect in the eyes of horsemen, because the relations between the two were to a point not friendly. 
    In many cases, the military dressage riders held the so-called classical riders in contempt, sort of like the thoroughbred people hold the trotting people in less respect, or better said the trotting folks are to some point envious of the thoroughbred people, because one must admit that the flat racing is much more thrilling due to its speed and that it is much more exciting to sit on and ride a horse than to look up its ass sitting in the sulky. 
    Similar relations existed between the self-titled classical riders and the military riders, because after all, one needs to be a much better horseman and rider in a battle than in some riding ring, so the military held the “classical” royal court in low esteem. However, unlike the trotting people, the “classical” riders viewed the military school as something more for the peasants than royal (but that was rarely spoken of, let alone written about)
    I believe, however, that the main reason for the military resentment of the “classical” form was the fact that the so-called “classical” dressage is very much taught off the ground, while the entire modern military dressage was trained exclusively off the horse-two very different types of training. 
    The difference between the old court dressage and the new preservation of it is that the former court dressage horse often saw a battlefield while the latter did not. On the battle field, one can genuinely evaluate not only the reliability of the horse and his heart, but also the training of the horse. In addition, when a king rode his horse in a parade and something went wrong, he needed a horse that would get him out of trouble, so these horses where schooled and tested for reliability; if the horse proved itself unreliable, the trainer was a dead man, rest assured (at least, I would kill him should I be a king). 
    To my knowledge (didn’t see but heard), Alois Podhajsky was presenting a Lipizzaner at some public stadium and the horse packed it in with him (the horse spooked and ran off with the him - no information available on the circumstances). It must have been very humiliating, and if that had happened to me in his position I would have run off somewhere and hid from shame, and if that would have happened to a monarch on a horse that Podhajsky trained, well, Podhajsky would have been dead the next day. 
    Since the pressure to have a well-trained horse for a monarch is not there anymore, and the need for a reliable and fit military horse has no practical use, the training understandably decays in the “classical” style, as much as in the military style, since military has no use for horses at all anymore. 
    All in all, we are all nothing but monkeys humping on horses and understanding nothing about these creatures, and even that isn’t as repulsive as when the human intellect gets hold of something and starts to apply reason to justify various equine activities, which makes a complete idiot of itself in front of any fair horseman.

   What is today called competitive dressage has its origins in the military dressage that was brought to the Olympic Games; hence many horses competing in the early Olympics were presented by military officers (not horsemen). Often in the past most of the officers were recruited (or volunteering) noblemen, since they already had horses trained by the best riders and trainers, whom they owned. 
    The common military horse was also fairly well-trained, depending on the time spent. The military in Europe was supplied with horses that usually underwent 10 months of remount training and came from either the royal stud farms or were purchased from privately owned farms. During wars, however, the count of horses dropped and the military acquired green horses that often received only three months of training and went to war, thus the saying in the European cavalry, “If your horse dies, you are next.”
    Now you can understand how these people must have cared for their well-schooled horses in some of the countries (not in all). In addition, the military owned the best-bred stock because of its importance to the interest of the sate (the large farms were managed by the state). 

    So, the military horse of Europe (including Caucasus and the Don region in Russia), used at the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, was the best there ever was, because it was the best bred, best trained and hardest tested under harsh military conditions and discipline. 
    The military produced much finer and more suitable horses than the civilian riding schools like the one in Vienna , but since the Vienna parade style was and is much more attractive to the non-horse people, it preserved itself by becoming like a circus performance. It was not like that before, but year by year since WWII it’s been decaying, since in reality there’s no one that really cares about the true value (the public cannot see it or appreciate it) and everything has become for show. 
    The military in the past produced much finer horses; it needed a horse with the temperament to run and to endure, and most of all, a reliable horse. Hence the training of a military horse was guided primarily by its practical usage, as opposed to the newly named “classical riding,” which is guided by appearance for the public and is therefore subject to appearances rather than practicality. This is also reflected in modern competitive “dressage” which, in addition, is not concerned with the well being of the horse, nor the practicality of the usage, but is concerned predominantly with appearance (compete to win what?). 
    Now when you add the fact that the dressage riders are predominantly women these days, dressage becomes subject to fashion, since it’s about “pretty” rather than practical, which of course changes decade by decade to the point that in this day and age it does not even remotely resembles either of the two, the court (“classical”) or the military style. 
    Since today's dressage is mainly about fashion and appearances (prettiest girl on the block), it understandably also attracts sexually confused men, and since it has such large number of women it also attracts men that want to impress them, get laid or take their money, and has become one of the most corrupt societies under the sun.

    The prime interest and focus of the military dressage, as well as the court dressage, was the duration of service of the schooled horse (so it still remains in Vienna and other rare places). In other words, the well being of the dressage horse overrides all other interests, because if the horse cannot last in service for several years after the training, all that schooling would be somewhat useless. Today, however, the focus is different in so-called competitive dressage, and that’s for a simple reason. 
    In order for one to train the animal while also keeping it from injuries he or she needs to see and admit that they’re hurting a horse when they do. (In a genuine riding school for horses there was strict supervision over the riders.) Since the horse world today is predominantly in the hands of amateur female riders and sexually confused men, who for most part are unable to admit to themselves that they’ve hurt a horse when they did (because they cannot handle the guilt), they simply stay ignorant, keep doing what they’re doing, and when the horse finally gives up or gets sore, they simply, as always, deliver some excuse like “these are athletes, and all athletes get hurt.” 
    These people are completely ignoring the fact that the higher level of dressage schooling is supposed to keep the horse from injuring itself when ridden, because it teaches the horse to remain in an acceptable riding balance even if the rider is not paying any attention to it. In other words, it trains the horse to carry itself in a safe and balanced form without the rider asking for it.   
    Now, when you teach the horse to carry itself in a safe way (safe for the horse), with a rider on its back, and the horse gets injured during this process, you must be a complete idiot; it’s like teaching kids fire safety and ending up burning your student. 

    In the past the term “schooled horse” was used, hence many European languages still retain terms like the “school gallop,” which is now also disappearing due to the immense influx of the English speaking public that is constantly inventing new words or new meanings for old words and little by little confusing terms. 
    Since the dressage society in the US and elsewhere focuses mainly on the wealthy folks (selling them some “noble and intellectual riding style”), it’s becoming more powerful and more appealing to the rich (rich peasants wishing to look noble and classy) and the “sophisticated” (who THINK they are intelligent). This can be seen not only in the various licensing and membership dues, but also in the type of horses used. 
    In other words, in most cases, if the horse is a big warmblood that doesn’t go so well, but has the reputation of its price and breeding, he will more likely place above the better performing, smaller, less expensive and less popular breeds of horse. 
    I do not know of any equestrian society that is as class oriented as the dressage. The lower levels for the middle class, the higher levels for the higher class, and if you can’t see it you can’t see anything and consider your self handicapped. 
    As I have said, the horses and the way we use them reflect us and the society; the rich own the “sport” (thus make their own rules), the middle class is crawling up their ass, and many of the lower class (not all) are full of envy and resentment. 
    In the past, the noblemen hired the fine riders and horsemen to do the work. Today, we have no noblemen and the "successful" folks are simply so conceited, arrogant, ignorant and stupid, that they THINK since they are “more intelligent” than the horseshit-cleaning horsemen, they should know better in what to do and how to ride a horse by merely doing some research or reading.
    Therefore, I often use the words idiots and stupid, because only idiots THINK that the human intellect matters in riding and handling animals or in the ability to relate to them. These are animals, for God’s sake; how could the human intellect matter in relating to them? 
    I have seen and worked with a mentally challenged man handling wild zebras (yes, wild zebras captured and imported from Africa) that were trained and ridden (took some two years) and shown (not ridden) in a circus, and on some occasions the man handled the zebras better than the trainer, and the trainer would not ever let him go, because the man was simply irreplaceable. 
    I, on the other hand, was very reluctant to help and tried to avoid it every time I was asked, and I preferred to handle them only when they were fixed (muzzled) because the wild bitches occasionally bit like mad dogs. When they kicked it was usually double barrel and by the time I said ouch I had three on top of it. 
    Now, I would like to see some of the intellectuals approach these wild zebras with their THINKING. Well, that would be a real circus show, wouldn’t it?

    The dressage horse is nothing but a schooled horse, a horse that went to school and what he is schooled for (or in) gives it the name. Therefore any horse that is schooled (not only conditioned) is by the basic definition of the word a dressage horse. 
    The term school is applied in the same essence as a school for people; hence a horse that did not go to school is not schooled. 
    Now since we have no schools for horses (outside rare places), there are simply no schooled horses anymore, and the home schooling or training by self-declared trainers is hardly comparable with a genuine riding school like the one in Austria or in France. 
    The word school or schooling is more or less a human term for the activity and has nothing to do with nature, because horses do not learn as we do; what we call the learning process in horses is nothing but a form of adaptation to an environment and its conditions, which they gain by associating one thing with another. There is simply no logic or thinking in the horse’s head, but rather a simple processing of instincts inborn or gained by associating some movement with other movements or things, and life with other life.

    Some of the history of dressage can be seen in the Xenophon writings, because he writes about both types of training, the parade and the military. In some places they refer to dressage as parade riding and in others as school riding, the higher level of a riding school. Quite simply, the word dressage genuinely refers to the training and conditioning of a riding horse, so a dressage horse is nothing but a schooled horse which, due to the schooling, serves better in the equestrian service that it is used for. 
    To break a horse and have it adjust to a particular service via performing it is something else, which one could refer to as a self-schooled horse. 
    For example, dressage came to England and the British Isles much later, because the English had their own style of riding, as well as their own usage of horses, independent of Europe . The British Isles used riding horse predominantly for racing (way before the Romans came), hunting or transportation, and the horse hardly needed to go to any horse school to perform these tasks. Most of their schooling came from the field of experience, though the royalty and noblemen had the finest horsemen of these regions at their disposal, as they did in Europe
    What some refer to as classical dressage was actually destroyed by the Anglo mania during the 19th century, when the Europeans’ taste for speed and hunting on faster horses became almost obsessive, hence the term Anglo “mania”, and people lost interest in the high stepping, pretty going and unpractical, slow type of the Old Spanish Horse
    The Spanish themselves actually completely destroyed the Old Spanish Horse by succumbing to the Anglo mania and breeding the English Thoroughbred with their own horses, which of course resulted in repulsive creatures that no one would purchase. 
    Here ended the “classical” horses and began the faster and more exciting English-bred horses (sport horses). 
    All the finest bred and best military horses in Europe of the late 19th and early 20th century had the English thoroughbred in their blood somewhere (visit Horse Breeds Origins). 
    Some may say that the English Thoroughbred came from the Arabian, which is false. The English thoroughbred came from the domestic horses of Britannia and was refined by the Arabian. The English thoroughbred is a genuine breed of the British people and it is not some acclimatized Arabian, which of course shows on the racetrack, where the Arabian cannot compete with English Thoroughbred at all. 
    The US bred English Thoroughbreds have a lot of impure blood in them, because as I have witnessed in the past (during the seventies), many fools, believing that the Quarter Horse is faster than the thoroughbred, paired these two breeds, falsified records (there were no blood test available then) and registered them with the Jockey Club, while completely ignoring the fact that the speed in the Quarter Horse came from the thoroughbred and that no one ever trains a decent Thoroughbred to run only one quarter of a mile (just another example of the corruption in the Equine World of the USA).

    The irony of today’s dressage is that it did not retain any of the values of both previous predecessors (parade and military) that were concerned primarily with the longevity of the horse in the service that it was schooled for. 
    In my younger days, it was unheard of that a dressage horse would go lame from its work; it’s simply impossible, unless one is a complete idiot and has no clue what he is doing or why is he doing it. 
    The reality of today’s competitive dressage is more comparable with a fashion show than with anything from the past, and a horse injured in this show is like a model getting hurt on the stage. That may happen here and there, but hardly as often as in dressage, because in my experience and observation most of the dressage horses in the “higher levels” of today are sore and on some drugs. 
    Dressage is just as perverted as fashion is. My girls (they are older) get the
Victoria ’s Secret catalog, and I asked them to look at the women and compare them with their environment and tell me where they differ. They just answered that the women in the catalog are pretty (the word pretty rules the equine world today-it is its Holy Grail). I told them to take a better look at the models in the catalog and notice the obvious: that all are picked primarily by sexually confused men and women, both of whom like females that look like boys (extremely obvious).

    In conclusion, dressage has its origin in the time when people decided to school riding horses for a particular service outside experience alone. In other words, the cattle horse doesn’t need any special schooling; he just receives basic braking/training and then goes to work where he learns from experience. 
    The king or soldier could not go to a parade or battle expecting the horse to learn form experience, hence the need for special training outside experience was needed, for which training in the court (riding ring) was invented, most likely way before Xenophon; he just seems to be one of the first to write about it and distinguish the basic two forms, the parade (presentation) and the military use. 
    Xenophon points out a very important fact: that horses trained in the ring should spend equal time training outside of the ring so that what is taught in the ring is then transported into the environment where it will be used, as in the parade or a battle. 
    The cattle horse is much easier to replace then the horse that underwent special training, so much greater attention was paid to the well being of the latter. This had nothing to do with some kind and humane treatment of horses, but merely served a more practical and economical purpose. 
    Both, the parade type dressage as well as the military dressage paid a lot attention to the well being of the horse, as opposed to today’s dressage, which is completely ignorant of it, while claiming more humane treatment of their horses than their predecessors. Just another bit of nonsense they use for their justification of the sport that they call dressage these days.

    The practical purpose of dressage, for the modern use of riding horses, remains the same as in the past: to improve the safety and longevity of the horse for riding purposes, as well as its reliability in the particular service for which it is being used. This of course is not practiced by the "modern competitive dressage," since the fools often injure their horses in the process, which of course contradicts the whole purpose of dressage.

Related Articles 
Classical Dressage
Gentle Riding Aids - Dressage

Dressage Abuse  

Dressage - Present State
Rollkur
 What is it and where it came from.
Related Correspondence:
Dressage - There is not such thing today.
Finding a Dressage Instructor

    Perversion means many things in many dictionaries, but in reality it points at people that confuse and fail to separate the matters of nature, society and spirit. Since most either do not acknowledge or understand the third (spiritual) they miss all of the spiritual reality and mix it in with nature and social values (civilization), and that is perversion. 
    In such a mess, people fail to differentiate between natural and social values, in which case they again miss both together and we all find ourselves in the state of a primate surrounded by technology that he does not understand, a primate who is governed by fear, greed, violence and sex. Such a beast needs to be controlled by the law, and we will end up in a society with hardly any personal liberties and most of all we will lose our individualities, which is of the spirit and referred to as the soul. Hence, losing one’s soul means losing one’s individuality.

    All and everything known to us belongs to one of the three realities known to us: the nature, the world (various societies, civilizations, laws) and the spirit. Failing to recognize what belongs where will prevent you from seeing and understanding anything on this site and everywhere you live and walk. It’s not an issue of good and bad, or just or unjust, fair or unfair, right or wrong, but an issue of sight: to simply see what’s what and where it belongs.

dres-sage (dr-sazh, dre-)n. Sports. The guiding of a horse through a series of complex maneuvers by slight movements of the rider's hands, legs, and weight. [French, preparation, training, dressage, from dresser, to set up, arrange, train, from Old French drecier, to set up, arrange. See DRESS.]   [back where I was]

    Needless to say that the "sport" version of the dictionary is farfetched nonsense; it was obviously acquired from some confused amateur rider.

Edited by J. G. May 12th, 2006
Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a Lee Stanek