How to get started with dressage

Learn how to get started in dressage and discover ways you can improve from home with the power of online training.

In this article, I want to explain how to get started in dressage and apply this to your everyday riding at home.

Dressage is an elegant and beautiful equestrian sport that requires discipline, focus, and precision from both the rider and the horse.

It can seem overwhelming at first if you’re interested in getting started with dressage, but it can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience with the right guidance and practice.

Here’s how to get started with dressage.

how to get started with dressage

Find a dressage trainer

The first step to getting started with dressage is finding a trainer who can teach you and your horse the basics of the sport.

A good trainer will not only teach you the physical aspects of dressage, but will also help you develop your mental focus and discipline.

Look for a trainer who has experience with dressage, and who is patient and encouraging with both you and your horse. It is for this reason we created our online training to help you with this step.

Start with the basics of dressage

Before you can start practising dressage, you must ensure you and your horse are comfortable with the basics of riding. This includes proper posture, balance, and control.

Here Vanessa runs us through some of the basics of dressage in this snippet from her online program. Within every dressage test there are two centre lines and halts.

So learning how to ride them well is a great place to start. Get guidance on how you can work on these skills at home and improve your dressage basics.

Dressage equipment to get started

Dressage requires specific equipment, so make sure you have everything you need.

There are different types of saddles you can ride in, and for dressage, there is a specific type of saddle that is designed to allow you to sit deeper and closer to your horse. You can certainly use a GP or even a western saddle if that’s what you already own.

However, as you get more serious with dressage you may find it easier to switch to a specific dressage saddle to really work on your dressage posture and position.

You’ll also need a bridle with a bit that suits your horse. A nice snaffle bit is a good place to start, and you’ll need riding boots, a helmet, and gloves for yourself.

Practice your dressage at home

Like any sport, dressage requires regular practice in order to improve.

Make a commitment to practicing on a regular basis, and try to ride your horse at least a few times a week.

During your practice sessions, focus on the basics and improve your posture, balance, and control.

Here is another snippet from our online program, this one talking about your trot-canter transitions. Practice makes perfect, so learning how to create that perfect practice is also key.

Focus on your communication with your horse

One of the most important aspects of dressage is the communication between you and your horse.

You’ll need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with your horse in order to perform the dressage movements correctly.

This means paying attention to your horse’s body language, and learning how to use your aids (such as your legs, hands, and seat) to give your horse clear signals.

Set specific dressage goals for yourself

Setting goals is important for improving your skills in any sport, including dressage.

Set specific, measurable goals for yourself, such as mastering a particular movement or improving your accuracy in movements.

Keep track of your progress, and celebrate your successes along the way.

Participate in dressage competitions

Competing in dressage competitions can be a great way to improve your skills and gain experience.

Look for local competitions in your area, and talk to your trainer about which ones might be appropriate for you and your horse.

Dressage is a challenging sport, and it can take time to master the skills and movements.

Be patient with yourself and your horse, and don’t get discouraged if progress seems slow.

Stay persistent, and keep practising regularly. With time and practice, you’ll see improvements in your skills and your horse’s abilities.

Take care of your horse

In addition to practising regularly and improving your skills, it’s important to take good care of your horse.

Make sure you are always putting your horse’s wellness first. Keep an eye on its body, how it moves and its overall condition.

Get to know your horse inside and out, so you can also be aware when your horse is not feeling its best.

Have fun!

Finally, remember that dressage should be a fun and enjoyable experience for you and your horse.

Don’t get so caught up in the technical details that you forget to have fun.

Take time to enjoy your horse’s company, and appreciate the beauty and elegance of the sport.

With the right attitude and approach, dressage can be a wonderful way to bond with your horse and improve your riding skills.

In summary, getting started with dressage doesn’t need to be complicated.

Get the best trainer you can afford and be sure to check out our online training to help you with this step. Sometimes it can be hard to find that trainer you trust and one out there doing it. So we have taken care of that for you.

Dressage is a sport that requires hard work and dedication, but with the right mindset and approach, it can be a deeply rewarding experience.

So go ahead and try it – you and your horse may be surprised at how much you enjoy it!

We also have our sister site, Dressage Rider Training.

Here we dedicate a whole website and training system to helping you as a rider.

Learn all about rider fitness and uncover the four key elements to our DRT system. Download our free guide to get started.

More articles

Why Dressage Horse Training?

Desktop and mobile devices Learn from the best

Gain access to top level trainers

Lamp (light) Gain Insights

& speed up your progress

Hand with clock Flexibility

anytime, anywhere, at your own pace

Watch the first lesson FREE & see how it works

Learn anytime, anywhere, at your own pace

Save lessons to your device
for offline playback.
Great if you have limited internet.

Log in

Create Your FREE Account Now

to watch the first lesson of each trainer...

Already have an account? Login

By sharing your email, you agree to our
Terms of Service, and Privacy Policy.


Would you like to watch one full lesson from Vanessa?

Create a free account and this will unlock Vanessa's most popular video lesson in the playlist.
Then you can see Vanessa's teaching style and how it all works.


Would you like to watch one full lesson from Jody?

Create a free account and this will unlock Jody's most popular video lesson in the playlist.
Then you can see Jody's teaching style and how it all works.