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James Fillis, General Decarpentry, Steinbrecht, L’Hotte, and Beudant, to name a few, who emerged during this time of change. Their theories, practices, illustrations, and writings have left modern horsemen with a plethora of concepts and methods for attaining balance, suppleness, and lightness. It is important to note that their equine pupils were horses far different in nature than the round and flexible Iberian horse. For the most part, they worked with Thoroughbred types who were stiffer and less supple, and had a different way of using themselves. In the early part of the 20th century, equestrian

events were introduced into the first Olympics held at Stockholm, Sweden with Grand Prix dressage being one of the disciplines recognized. The Grand Prix test of the first 1912 Olympic Games was a far cry from today’s FEI Grand Prix dressage test. At that time, only cavalry officers were allowed to compete and jumping had to be included in the relatively simple, lower level (compared to modern standards) dressage test. At this time, there were no piaffe, passage, or canter pirouettes in the test. Jumping over obstacles, four changes of lead on a straight line, and turn on the haunches, plus lengthening and collection within each gait was the extent of the test. The origin of competitive dressage as a sport had commenced and it rewarded a horse with obedience and courage in lieu of lightness and collection. With the invention of the automobile and tractor, the breeding strategies changed in Northern Europe and soon their work horses were crossed with lighter and hotter breeds to develop ‘horses for sport’ commonly referred to as Warmbloods. For competitive dressage, it became the breed of choice because of its ground covering extensions, it was more


supple than the Thoroughbred and was calmer in temperament. However, not all of these big moving horses could make it to the top of the sport once the high school movements such as piaffe, passage and canter pirouettes were introduced in the International levels of competition.

DIFFERENCES TO CONSIDER The difference between classical horsemanship and competitive dressage basically comes down to the type of horse that is used and the ultimate goal to be achieved by the horse and rider. Even though competitive dressage was based on the principles of classical horsemanship, competitive dressage rewards a very different frame, balance, and movement than was desired in the early classical school. Referring to illustrations A and B (below), in illustration A, the classical horse is moving forward and up, whereas the competitive horse in illustration B is moving forward and more horizontal. The training pyramid used in competitive dressage today was inspired by this later type of horse. It was designed to bring a strong, big gaited, horizontally-built horse back and into collection by keeping him between the legs and the hand of the rider while driving him forward. You will also notice the difference in the movement between the horses. The classical horse in A is already in a degree of elevation. The B horse is straighter and more mechanical in movement and will require increased flexibility to find the elevation needed for the collected work. With this type of horse the degree of collection is limited because of their natural ability. In very recent years we are seeing the breeding and competing of Northern European horses who are


FIGURE A: Lithograph demonstrating the classical horse in trot in the 18th century. FIGURE B: An example of a competitive dressage horse in the 20th century. Notice the differences in body conformation.

Warmbloods Today 61

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