Dressage - Art or Sport?

Training, Testing & Judging the Art of Riding

Judging an Art Form?

That sounds like a contradiction in terms. Isn't art something that is done for its own sake or just to watch the beauty of it, or for expressing emotions and ideas? Well, sure. Art as we usually see it, in paintings, sculptures and installations and happenings. New, evolving art that thrives on invention and new ideas. Art that is appreciated for its novelty, that nobody ever constructed this set of ideas before, noone ever expressed it like this. All modern artists od today do something of their own. They go further than they have been, build on old ideas to create something new. So how can your judge something that you have never seen before?

But there are other arts. In the context of dressage ballet usually comes up. Sure, there's modern dance and modern ballet where new and unusual moves and expressions are invented on every stage. But there is also the quieter form, the classical ballet, which has a narrow framework of rules and guidelines. Where you work within a set frame of components to try to create something beautiful, not necessarily something new.

Or even more so, the japanese art of Haiku poetry. Haiku is a very formal and limited kind of poetry, and poets try to be smarter and cleverer and strive to express the beauty of the narrow space, using the narrow space of the form.

Is this the kind of art dressage is? A very regulated set of movements with lots of do's, and even more don't's? Well, it could very well be. If you ride dressage for the sake of training the beauty of a horse in movement, to improve him towards an unreachable ideal, and the journey there is the whole point. The sheer beauty of it. Then dressage is an art.

But to may people, a tradition without change, without improvement, without growth and evolution, is unthinkable. Maybe it has to do with the scientific mind of modern man, that everything should improve and lead to something, or else it is in vain. Like the ballet at Balshoy on Moscow. It is there to show beauty to those who visit. It is not there in order to challenge all other famous ballets to see which can get the most publicity, be highest rated, have the most applicants, have the most revered teachers... But it turns out that way for many of us, who may not even have been there in person. Knowing who's who and what's what and how they rate, is more important that being there and just filling yourself with the beauty of it. Can you tell I have been to the Balshoy?

The same goes for famous dressage riders. Unless someone is in the charts, placing and winning big events where lots of people attend, and get a lot of press, theyr'e "not doing anything".

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