Inspiration from Rolex

Inspiration from Rolex

I watch a lot of upper level dressage at work; I spent most of the winter streaming competitions from the Adequan Global Dressage Festival on one of my monitors. I like to watch the tack store’s sponsored riders compete, and I like to see what trends are occurring in high level competition.

I mean…how?!

I didn’t realize how much all that Grand Prix dressage had warped my thinking until I watched Thursday’s dressage competition at Rolex. Here were horses who looked positively relaxed; none of them were going around in the ultra-collected frame I’m used to seeing. There were no tempi changes, no piaffes, no pirouettes! Nearly everyone was riding in a snaffle! Dressage at Rolex looked…almost easy.

Attainable! Maybe!
Attainable! Maybe!

Don’t get me wrong- I know it’s difficult. I know I can’t go out and ride that FEI Eventing 4* Test right now. But as I watched Rolex competitors, I thought, “This looks okay. This looks like something I could learn to do.” I never, ever think that about Grand Prix dressage. I look at riders like Lars Petersen or Shelly Francis and I think, “They’re so quiet! Their horses are so collected! How do they do that?!”

I felt inspired and refreshed after watching last Thursday’s competition. Suddenly, upper level eventing seemed attainable. Sure, it’s a long way off. I might never get there at all! I might take one look at a cross country fence like the one below and die of fright. But it’s nice to know that 4* dressage looks a lot more doable than I ever thought.


16 thoughts on “Inspiration from Rolex”

  • Haha! Liked this a lot! After being at 3rd for a little while now, Rolex dressage looks totally doable. It’s basically 3rd level with bonus difficulty on the shoulder in and extra random flying changes thrown in.

    Hmmm… Now I kinda wanna ride it!

  • Eventing dressage really is so much easier. I was listening to the commentary and they were saying the hardest parts are the rein back and flying lead changes and I was like, sheesh, I used to do those when I showed h/j. I’m not saying I could go do that test anytime soon, but it’s not as intimidating as upper level dressage.

  • Yah one of my friends got kind of irritated at me when I mentioned that almost none of the walk pirouettes were done properly. I’m not saying I can run around that cross country course, but that dressage test isn’t difficult and it’s true, most of the walk pirouettes were huge or sticking or both lol. But I need to know my audience I guess 🙂

  • Okay, so I have to ask… In my field, I’m beginning to learn *unfortunately* that many of the horses in the upper echelon of western shows are…gasp…drugged. Maybe a little Ace here or there. I’ve even heard of people using Dormosedan. When I started learning this, my heart sunk and my opinions of those “amazing riders” quickly changed to those “amazing scum bag cheaters.” Does that happen in the dressage realm?

    • Dressage doesn’t seem to have drugging so much as questionable training tactics (rollkur) and breeding for extravagant movement instead of correct movement. You’ll see a few people use supplements like Perfect Prep inappropriately, but for the most part, dressage people like their horses to be alert and up.

  • I felt this way after working Rolex as well!! It makes me feel a little crazy, but those fences looked like more than just hard work, they looked like fun! And That dressage test! I can’t wait to go see them in person and have my opinion changed. 😉

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