DRESSAGE: THE ELEGANT DISCIPLINE OF HORSE RIDING

Over the years horse riding has developed a lot: the first riding schools were born in the sixteenth century and there are many disciplines that derived from different cultures.

To get more insights into Dressage and the discipline of horse riding we spoke with Numa Verberne and Anouk Daris.


Numa Verberne is one of the talented athletes who practice the discipline of dressage in horse riding. He and his amazing horse Gatano have a special relationship that lasts over two years. This connection between them has given them. Meanwhile Anouk Daris is a horse trainer whose passion for horse is linked to her childhood, when she encountered a horse for the first time, precisely a pony.




Men and horses have always been a particular relationship: in the previous centuries these animals were indispensable, they were actual transports and they were able to carry loads and heavy stuff. Then with the coming of the first motor cars, the role of horses have changed. These animals are very intelligent and sensitive and they are men’s perfect allied. Precisely for these characteristics these beautiful creatures are employed to help children with disabilities or even people in need. Horses relax who is around them. Calm and cool head are very important features necessary in competitive sports. Actually another thing that horses and men share is right sport. Over the years horse riding has developed more and more: the first riding schools were born in the sixteenth century and there are many disciplines that derived from different cultures.


Sara: The connection between you and your horse is special, during a competition you rely on him and he relies on you. How did you build this mutual trust? What’s his name?


Numa: So his name is Gatano, he is a 9 year old gelding. I’ve had him for about two years now and we’ve only been to 2-3 competitions so far in the past weeks included the Belgian Championships 2 weeks ago where he performed really well for his first

multiday tournament. Like you mentioned before it is vital to have a special connection with your horse, it is a two way street of mutual trust. It’s not something that you can build in a couple of months, we’re talking about years. You’ve got to been through depths and hights in your sportscareer as a combination with your horse to be able to build on that mutual trust. To answer on your second question I couldn’t give you a simple answer in a few sentences, so many riders and trainers have written books about the technical aspect of dressage and still with all that knowledge you couldn’t be able to put “a stamp” on how you should train or teach a horse something, so many horse are so different and not every method works for every horse.





Sara: How was your passion for horse riding born?


Anouk: It comes from my parents. I have been riding ponies since I was a child. Before I could walk! I grew up with horses and can't imagine life without them.




Sara: Can you tell us about your work? How do you train a horse?


Anouk: I work as a teacher at school, train horses and teach a lot. Gymnastics and basic work. I focus on relaxation and a 'happy athlete'. I always try to keep the work

varied.




DRESSAGE that in French means straightening, is one of the disciplines of horse

riding. It consists in reproducing geometric figures, called arie, in a rectangular field

that measures 20x40 meters or 20x60 meters. This discipline includes different

difficulty levels that go from the elementary one to the most difficult which is Grand

Prix and Gran Prix Special, elected also at Olympic Games. In these categories

some particular movements are required, for example "piaffer" or passage in which

the horse is asked to move its legs in an extremely difficult manner.



Sara: Are there any particular techniques to train a horse? I mean to teach him the movements and the patterns of dressage?


Numa: You’ve got to put a lot of feeling in your training and try to find a way to make the horse understand what you’re trying to tell him. Dressage is a team sport where

you’re trying to communicate with your horse through very small aids, or at least

that is the goal.. Every time I get amazed how subtle and small changes in

your way of riding can change so much in the outcome at the end of a training, it is

truly fascinating..!





Sara: How long does it take to prepare a competition?


Numa: Well I’ve been in a long routine of competitions before with my previous horse with whom I became twice Belgian champion with and competed at three European

Championships. So once you’re in the competition routine, it doesn’t take that

much preparation more, or at least not really for the horse if he knows his job. Then

I mostly focus next to the riding aspect on my mental condition as a rider, mental

coaching etc. It is really important to be in a focused, unstressed and clear mental

place, because the way you feel as rider influences your way of riding more than

you would think. So that is really important. Regarding Gatano, when we bought

him around two years ago he wasn’t ready for the level required to go on

competition, so yeah that took around two years to get him ready. It takes a lot of

patience, but at the end it is all worth it!



Dressage could be thought as a dance that horse and its knight perform. These kind of movements are learnt by heart by the horse that has to be trained very well from its jockey. The connection between horse and man is really strong: during a competition, in a field, they have to be one thing. The main figure of dressage are judged by experts who are responsible of observing and giving points to the rider and his horse. The reviews are really strict, for this reason the preparation for a competition is very tough. “Kur” or freestyle