What is classical dressage? Answer: In my opinion… The Spanish Riding School, which provides a curriculum to reach the Grand Prix. Broadly speaking, a training program which follows progressive steps leading to Grand Prix Dressage.
Every country in the world that belongs to the FEI, (Federation Equestrian International) has national level tests which lead/prepare horse and rider for the advanced international levels of -Prix St. Georges, Intermediare, and Grand Prix.
In the US, our national tests have increased in difficulty over the years, so that finally our horses and riders are better prepared for big international competitions, like the World Cup, the Pan American Games and the Olympic Games.
Even if you are not focused on reaching Grand Prix, you need to understand that your training program should incorporate the goals of all true dressage riders, the classical art as taught and preserved in the Spanish Riding School. Although dressage has evolved with the times, and breeding has provided more ideal dressage types, there are no shortcuts when it comes to training
I am 100% sure that any accomplished rider of any discipline, would agree that the principles of balance, harmony and lightness are the cornerstones of their training program. Riders and horses are continually challenged and graced by events totally out of their control, which result in tragedy and triumph.
Let’s not forget the wonderful masters who have come before us. The old pictures do not capture the magic they shared with their equine friends. The tests may have changed, but the goal is the same, a harmonious partnership with a horse.