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Dressage Dominance

Corner By Judy Wardrope

who won Olympics, World Equestrian Games and World Cups with the gelding, says, “Salinero was in my barn for a year before I sat on him.” She thought he was too tall, and besides, his shorter full brother was a show jumper, so he was thought of in those terms too. But he wasn’t built like his brother; he was built to do dressage. How can we assess dressage conformation?

H

Most people tend to start assessing conformation from the front of the horse, yet listen to any instructor giving lessons, listen a top rider giving a clinic, read training books or articles and you will find numerous references to engaging or coming from behind. And because another requirement for a dressage horse is to support a higher percentage

ow did Salinero become such an inter- nationally dominant dressage horse? He almost didn’t. Anky van Grunsven (NED),

point of view

body weight on the hindquarters, that seems the best place to start assessing conformation. Like the top jumpers, the top dressage horses

have a lumbosacral gap (the palpable dip just in front of the high point of the croup) in line between the two top points of hip, which equals good coupling. Without strong coupling, the upper-level movements may cause injury and/or argument during training as the horse experiences difficulty sustaining the frame and executing the movements. The photo shows that Salinero has ideal alignment. Researcher Dr. Hilary M. Clayton says, “The lumbosacral joint is the only part of the vertebral column between the base of the neck and the tail that allows a significant amount of flexion (rounding) and extension (hollowing) of the back. At all the other vertebral joints the amount of

58 November/December 2009

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