In the Saddle with Anita Marsh: Dressage diva in the making...

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Well as the weather seems to be warming up we have been enjoying getting out and about this season competing on the horses.

In-between pony club and my daughter's shows on her pony, I have managed to squeeze in some showjumping and more recently a bit of dressage on my own mare.

The word ‘dressage’ is a French term, meaning training.

To put it simply, dressage is the art of harmonious communication between horse and rider, it can be very, very deceptive, it may look easy, but to do it well is incredibly difficult.

It takes years of dedication and training to reach the ‘Grand Prix’ (GP) level seen at the Olympics. Even non-horsey people can't help but admire the Olympic dressage riders performing.

Many of you will remember the fabulous result we had in dressage in the last Olympics with Team GB.

In competition, the rider performs a number of choreographed movements known as a ‘dressage test’ where both the horse and rider are given a mark out of ten for each movement, plus additional marks for the horse’s paces (the way it moves), impulsion (its desire to work actively), submission (evidence of willingness), and the rider’s position as a whole. The average of these scores gives a percentage, which is the final mark.

April and I have competed in dressage a couple of times, each time increasing our score but never quite gaining enough marks to be placed with a rosette, despite weeks of practice.

This time we rehearsed only six days in advance, but we are riding much better these days. We had a fantastic day beating our personal best and coming home in second place finally getting that elusive rosette!

Follow Anita on twitter @InTheSaddleBlog where she shares her saddle stories straight from the horse’s mouth