5 ‘Who Knew?’ Facts about: Dressage

William Woods Equestrian

 Equestrian studies students practice dressage. This is Part 1 in our series highlighting interesting facts about each of the four disciplines equestrian studies students can pursue at William Woods University.

Karen Pautz, Clinical Instructor of Dressage, shares some interesting facts about the discipline, including a few unique things about its relationship with William Woods.

1. Dressage has global reach.
William Woods Professor teaches equestrian students about dressage. It is an international sport, and one of the horse sports included in the Olympic games. Its purposes and requirements are the same throughout the world. Several of the William Woods University dressage horses were imported from outside North America, and some of them have their own international passports.

2. Dressage is not breed-specific.
Although currently, most international-level competition dressage horses are warmbloods. At William Woods University, the dressage string includes not only warmbloods (Dutch, Danish, Hessen, Swedish, as well as Hanoverians, Trakehners and Holsteiners) but also Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Arabians, and Friesian and draft horse crosses.

3. Dressage is not gender-specific.
Equestrian studies student competes in dressage competition. Men and women compete against each other at all levels — local, national or international — with women regularly taking the awards podium at the Olympic games. In fact, since 1998, every Olympic Individual Gold Medalist has been a woman.

4. The discipline of dressage has a very long history.
Dressage as we know it has origins in the 1600s, as a gentleman’s sport based on the training of cavalry horses. But the Greek military commander Xenophon wrote in detail about the careful, systematic training of horses — including movements that resemble today’s piaffe and passage — in 350 B.C. His The Art of Horsemanship” is considered the earliest dressage text.

5. Its greatest goal is technique and development.
While competition is a major focus in the dressage industry, the goal of dressage is not to win ribbons, but rather to develop — through a systematic progression of gymnastic exercises — a horse who is a comfortable, confident athletic partner with his rider. Dressage can be the foundation for any discipline. For example, William Woods successful hunter/jumper horses Remington Van Beau or Pro Bono began with careers in dressage.

William Woods University equestrian students take coursework in equestrian business and management, science and understanding in every corner of the equine industry. Students can choose to specialize in one of four disciplines: Dressage, Hunter/Jumper, Saddle Seat and Western. This series features things you may not have known about these disciplines, and their history at William Woods.

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