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When first exploring the possibility of providing hoof care for dressage horses, a common perception is, “Well, how hard can it be?”
They are trained and shown on a smooth, level surface, seemingly without much exertion. They never have to run full-out for a mile-and-a-half, nor stop on a dime and spin like a top. Mostly, they just go quietly around in a circle, travel sideways a bit and sometimes they have to trot in place.
How hard can that be?
Actually, it’s very challenging.
The discipline of dressage is one in which a performance is judged on the fluid movements of the horse that is moving happily with grace and style. To achieve this, everything has to be working well, and hoof care is closely scrutinized.
What is sought is a horse with a good mind that performs willingly without showing resistance to the aids; travels forward with impulsion, lightness and extension in the forelegs; elasticity in the shoulder; softness in the back and engagement of the hindquarters.
Dressage is a French term meaning “training.” It’s a competition that provides a prescribed pattern of movements called a test. Each movement is judged individually and given a score from one to 10.
There are 10 levels of tests. Each level is more difficult than the previous, and is based upon the mastery of those movements before moving up to the next level. The levels are introductory, training level, first level through fourth level, Prix St. Georges, intermediate…