Dressage basics have been found to help horses in many disciplines, from reining and cutting horses to racehorses. Eventers must perform a dressage test, and especially at the lower levels, a good dressage ride can make all the difference in final placing. But often the focus is put on the cross-country phase, which is considered more exciting for riders and spectators.
Olympic three-day team member Julie Burns has been training with dressage rider Jules Nyssen since last year, and now they meet every month for a weekend of intensive dressage. She also was a working student with the Ostergaards when she was younger.
Foxhall Farm owner Jim Richards, who owns the horses Burns rides, cites event rider Kim Vinoski is a perfect example, having competed in Grand Prix dressage and now riding at the top levels of eventing.
Grand Prix dressage rider Susan Dutta started out in eventing, and stated for HorsesDaily.com, that her first German trainer, Dietrich Von Hoffgarten, made a memorable impression. "He really installed the basics. The more I advance, I realize how essential the basics are. They are the core of your riding."
There is an obvious difference between event horses and the typical dressage horse: they are hard, fit, and meant for speed and endurance, with long lines more like greyhounds than the rounded muscles common in dressage.
"A lot of people believe that the horse is thinking about the cross-country all the time, and that's why people having problems in dressage," said Burns. "I don't believe that. I think they just need lots of time in the ring to learn the difference between competition and schooling."
Burns took three of her horses to the Snowbirds Paradise dressage show in Clarcona, Florida, for some extra time in the ring: two Irish horses, Kildare, and Connaught, and Welton Gold, an English thoroughbred. They competed at first and second levels, with scores in the high 60's.
By Amber Heinzberger