Dressage is capturing the attention of some Westcliffe equestrians! The term "dressage" means "training" in French and its purpose is to develop a horse's natural ability, submissiveness, and willingness to work to make him extremely attentive, supple, and obedient. Many different breeds are used for dressage, and there are now recognized competitions for both English and western riders. The horse and rider are expected to perform a memorized series of movements that get gradually more difficult as the dressage test levels increase. The riders receive a score card where each movement is judged and given a numerical score from 1 to 10 for accuracy, and there are also training scores given for rhythm and regularity, relaxation, contact, impulsion, straightness, and collection.
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A competitive trail ride (CTR) is a competitive distance event over a measured distance and completed within a window of time. In NATRC competitions, the horses are evaluated by an approved veterinary judge, and riders are evaluated by an approved horsemanship judge. The judging begins at the preliminary examination, usually the day before the ride, continues during the ride, and concludes at the final examination one or two days later. The equines (horses, ponies, and mules) are evaluated on condition, soundness, their trail manners, and way of going. Riders are judged on horsemanship as it applies to competitive trail riding. Trail safety and courtesy are key elements as is the ability to care for a horse during and after a long day in the back country.
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Competitors haul their horses to the ride site, perhaps in a grove of trees or in a meadow, where they set up camp. After checking in with the ride secretary, riders present their horses for a preliminary veterinary inspection. Later in the evening a briefing is held to tell riders about the trails.