LEXINGTON, Ky. – If you’re not sure what dressage or reining is, this is the guide for you. As the World Equestrian Games kick off in Lexington, Ky., many horse trainers, athletes, spectators, judges and volunteers will take to the Bluegrass Region for nearly a month. All the while witnessing the best of the best in equine sports.
Dressage is a French term meaning â€—training‘, and is often described as â€•horse ballet.
Gaits and movements performed at the highest level, Grand Prix, include collected and extended walk, trot, and canter; trot and canter half-pass; passage (a slow-motion trot); piaffe (a trot in place); one and two-tempi changes (a skip as the horse changes leads in the canter); canter zigzags; and pirouettes.
For more information: www.usdf.org
Driving competitions are held for teams of four horses. Two days dedicated to dressage, one to marathon, and the last to driving an intricate course marked by cones. The lowest total cumulative faults from all three tests determine the individual and teams championships.
For more information: www.americandrivingsociety.org
The endurance test is like a marathon race. Horse and rider must complete a 160-kilometer (100 mile) course in the shortest time possible while completing mandatory veterinary checks. In addition to the titles of individual and team champion, the Veterinary Commission will elect the horse deemed to be in â€—best condition‘ from the ten fastest in the classification.
For more information: www.aerc.org
Eventing could be termed an â€—equestrian triathlon‘. It involves working with a horse both on the flat and over fences testing the accuracy, boldness and stamina of the horse. The three phases are: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. Over the centuries it has developed from the test of the ideal military charger to an exciting sport attracting hobby riders to professionals.
For more information: www.useventing.org
The para-equestrian competition will be comprised of dressage for riders with disabilities. The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010 will be the first time that this competition will be held during the World Games.
For more information: www.ipec-athletes.de
Reining is a judged event designed to show the athletic ability of a ranch-type horse. Contestants are required to work one of ten approved patterns which include small slow circles, flying lead changes, roll backs over the hocks, 360-degree spins done in place, and the exciting sliding stops known of the reining horse.
For more information: www.nrha.org
The challenges of show jumping are straightforward - jump a course of approximately 10-13 obstacles with no penalties within the allotted window of time. Penalties or faults are incurred if a horse knocks a rail down, refuses to jump, or fails to complete a course in the time allowed.
For more information: www.ushja.org
Vaulting is most easily described as gymnastics performed on a moving horse. Participants are judged on a set of compulsory moves and in freestyle competition. With a history extending back to Roman sports, vaulting requires the teamwork of the vaulter, horse and longeur, who controls the horse in a circle on a longe line. Vaulters may compete as individuals, in pairs, or as a team.
For more information: www.americanvaulting.org.
Information courtesy of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
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