Last week was Rolelu Stables, Inc’s August competition. Every month from April through October, Rolelu offers an open competition with a Dressage Show, a Combined Test (dressage and stadium), a Jumping Derby, and Cross-Country Schooling as weather allows. I am in the fortunate position to be the exclusive photographer for each of these shows!
The Dressage Show offers tests from introductory Level all the way through 4th level, including every “eventing” dressage test currently out there. The Combined Test and the Jumping Derby both offer Introductory through Preliminary levels. So, the possibility of some really nice rides on really nice horses certainly exists. However, these are set up knowing that people use them as schooling shows. Inexperienced horses and riders (sometimes together) come to get that valuable ‘out of their own barn/comfort zone’ experience. So not every ride is beautiful from start to finish and there are definitely mistakes made – but that is the reason Rolelu hosts these shows.
Even in the English-style competitive horse-back riding world, dressage tends to be among the least popular activates – especially at the lower levels. Many eventers would rather skip dressage entirely or see it as a necessary evil they must conquer to be allowed to go have a blast on the Cross-Country course. Watching dressage has been likened more than once to watching paint dry.
Personally, I have never been of that opinion. Even as a youth I more than tolerated dressage. As a teen, I loved doing dressage way more than doing cross-country – but that’s another story. Dressage is a program to increase suppleness, balance, and obedience work that can prepare the horse for future work in any discipline. For a primer on dressage basics, check on Rolelu Stables’ page.
Olympic level riders and horses may have flashier tests, but the unique opportunity to see a team grow in flexibility, understanding, balance, gaits (collected through extended) makes watching even the lowest level tests at Rolelu Stables an exciting experience. Sometimes, a green horse will add their own brand of excitement, too… Not that I’d share pictures of that with the world 🙂