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Why does dressage even exist? As Luis Valenca (valencaequestriantours.com) points out, it is both a martial art and yoga - the same as human martial arts, which also have a therapeutic side to them.

It’s worth looking at what the word actually means. Dressage comes from the old German - 'dressur' which shows how the word came into northern Europe. It means 'to put together/make/form/train.' we use it when we talk about putting clothes on or, in the British army - 'dressing the ranks' i.e. straightening the ranks on a parade ground. The word came into northern Europe along with the language with the invasion of the franks (who founded France and French) a Germanic horse tribe that poured into the northern half of the old Roman Empire during the 5th century. They used the dressage system, having learned it from central Asian tribes, for war.#Pluvinel, the 16th French horse trainer to the king, gives us the purest form of that system, where the whole 'dressage' system was aimed at producing a horse that could both do light and heavy cavalry work as an extension of the riders mind and body. The Greeks and Romans in southern Europe had had the system for about a thousand years before that - after the Persians had invaded Greece (you all saw the movie '300' - it was that war). The Persians had long before that absorbed the 'dressage system' for war from the tribes in Trans-Caucasia who invented it (modern day Turkmenistan/Iran/Caucasus). The Greeks saw the system's usefulness for the battle horse and in their turn absorbed it not just for war but for a ritual in which they worshipped the god of the sea, Poseidon, always represented by a horse and a bull, in an arena. Modern day bullfighting has its roots in this. The Greeks left us a mentor, #Xenophon, an Athenian cavalry general, who wrote the oldest surviving book on dressage that we know of.

Of course warriors have to be patched up when they get injured. Good martial arts instructors know how to adapt their systems for rehab as well as for combat training. As Spanish mentor Enrique Martinez https://montecristoequestrian.com/ told us: 'you use piaffe to strengthen the older horse's loin, especially piaffe to canter, or piaffe to passage. You use renvers to shoulder in in the circle to keep the stifle and stomach muscles strong. You use Spanish walk to free up a stiffening shoulder. the work on the hind legs to strengthen the back and hocks and take the weight off the front legs you don’t just do the dressage to 'do it'. You do it to meet the horse's needs as he ages and keep him strong and supple.'

Like people doing yoga or tai chi or chi gung. All of which have their roots in war too.

Thank you mentors. We are forever students