Although thoroughbreds and flat races dominate the world of horse racing, dressage remains it's most enchanting and endearing variation. While dressage steals the limelight briefly during the Olympics, true horse racing enthusiasts enjoy shows throughout the season every year. The spectacle of disciplined and skilled dressage performance offers an elegant dimension to the fast-paced world of horse racing.
It can take the better part of a lifetime for horse and rider to learn the nuances of synchronized and precise movements. Dressage has been rightly likened to a kind of ballet in horse racing, and it certainly calls for similar loads of hard work and rigorous practice. It also resembles horse racing in this sense, because it calls for the kind of effort and resources which go in to producing a top champion, brood mare, or stud.
Though all horses respond superbly to training, some breeds are more responsive for horse racing than for dressage. Austrian Lipizzaner horses are most famous for their innate ability to learn and to execute the delicate and coordinated moves which make dressage such a visually appealing sport.
Though dressage has a broad range of moves, nothing can match the grace of piaffe. This involves trotting gracefully without actually moving forward or back. The most hardened punter from the field of classic horse racing can become converted to dressage for life on seeing this incredibly difficult but wondrous movement. The slow but enthralling paces of passage, and the unique crossing movements of a half-pass, are other highlights of dressage that complement the excitement of horse racing for enthusiasts and their families.
The Greeks are known to have initiated the rites of dressage, and it has been nurtured, almost as a form of art rather than as a sport over the ages. Dressage received a fillip during the inspired days of the Renaissance in Europe, and has a loyal following even to this day. Racecourses would do themselves a favor, and would add to the fun of horse racing if they were to sponsor dressage in a big way. Dressage and horse racing have chosen to remain largely apart thus far, but it may be in the greater equestrian interest for some combined promotion.