Yesterday 7-26-12 Stevie said Dressage, the Olympic sport, was stupid. He got a little heat over it and Lauren wrote him an email explaining the whole thing. We wanted to share with you in case you don't know how hard dressage is.
This email is in response to your comments yesterday afternoon about Dressage. I hope you will have a better understanding of the sport after reading this.
First a brief history on Equestrian sports in the Olympics. Equestrianism made its Summer Olympics debut at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. It disappeared until 1912, but has appeared at every Summer Olympic Games since. Equestrian sports are the only sports to involve a human and an animal and are the only Olympic sports where men and women compete together. Present-day dressage evolved from the military training of horses and riders that began around 400 B.C. Cavalrymen and their horses had to be in complete harmony with each other to be successful on the battlefield.
Second, I’d like to address some of your misconceptions about Dressage. You mentioned yesterday that the horse memorizes the pattern and the rider just sits there while the “horse dances”. This could not be further from the truth. First off, the horse does not “memorize the pattern.” The rider memorizes the test, and asks the horse to perform this test. It is often compared to dancing because of the partnership required to execute the movements in a Dressage test. The various things asked of an Olympic level Dressage horse like piaffe, passage, canter pirouettes, and single tempi changes are not moves that a horse not being ridden will just go do on it’s own. The horse performs these movements because of the communication from the rider. This is true teamwork and partnership.
Dressage is judged by giving each movement in a test a score from 0-10. Horse and Rider are judged for the quality of the movement (was the horse moving straight, and the rider sitting squarely in the saddle? was the horse engaged from back legs to front legs?), how well it was executed (did the horse canter exactly at the letter it was supposed to? Was the circle exactly 10m and perfectly round in shape? Did the horse piaffe in place or was it traveling?), how the horse responded to the rider’s request (did the horse throw it’s head in the air?, did the horse throw it’s shoulder in or out?). The scores are then added and tallied as a percentage with 100% being perfect. Most times a good score is in the 70s. The horse performs well not because it woke up and said “I’m going to do a perfect pirouette today”, but because the rider asked and has a partnership where the horse trusts the rider and listens to what it is asked to do.
You also asked if the horses got the medal – Yes the awards are given to the team of horse and rider. For example, if a horse scheduled to go to the Olympics gets hurt before the games the rider DOES NOT get to bring a replacement horse- the next horse/rider combination on the qualifying list gets the invitation. (And vice versa if the rider were to get hurt the horse/rider team would be replaced not just the rider).
Now to address some of the other sports you feel should be in the Olympics. Baseball actually was an Olympic sport, but was voted out in 2005 for the 2012 games and was confirmed voted out in 2006. There are many references out there that cite the lax drug rules of American baseball as part of the problem. Next, Bowling. Bowling has been petitioning to be included in the Olympics. They narrowly missed the vote to be included 2012. They meet the definition of a sport to be included in the Olympics as far as the number of countries and athletes that participate. You might get to see Bowling in the Olympics.
One final thing I’d like to point out. The alternate for the US Olympic Dressage team is from right here in the New Orleans area! Heather Blitz and her horse Paragon are the alternates and are in London as we speak. Paragon was bred here at Oak Hill Ranch in Folsom, Louisiana. Heather worked at Oak Hill for a long time before moving to Wellington to compete at the higher level shows full time. Support your local Olympians!!! In closing – check out http://www.sedariders.org/ this is the local area dressage and eventing organization and I welcome you to come out to any of the upcoming shows and get a better idea of what Dressage is really all about!.
Wikipedia contributors. "Equestrian at the Summer Olympics." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 Jul. 2012. Web. 27 Jul. 2012.
The Associated Press. "They’rrrre out! Baseball, softball out of Olympics." NBCSports. 8 Jul 2005. Web. 27 Jul. 2012.