- JUDGES – Olympic Dressage competitions have seven judges spaced round all four sides of the arena for optimal viewing
- MARKS – marks are awarded for each movement during the test and range from a perfect 10 for excellent, to 0 when the required movement is not executed. The scores from each of the seven judges are added together and the final mark is given as a percentage, with the highest percentage being the winner
- MEDALS – there are two sets of medals on offer – Team and Individual – and the competition is run over three separate tests – Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Freestyle to Music
- GRAND PRIX – this is the first stage of the team competition. Grand Prix is the highest level of Dressage and all horse/rider combinations perform the same test. This first stage of the competition takes place over two days. A copy of the test is available here: Rio 2016 Olympic Games Dressage Test Grand Prix
- GRAND PRIX SPECIAL – the top six teams from the Grand Prix progress to the Special, which has the Grand Prix movements arranged in a different and more concentrated pattern. Marks from the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special are added together to decide the team medals. As in the Grand Prix (above) all horse/rider combinations perform the same test.
- GRAND PRIX FREESTYLE – riders create their own tests, which include compulsory movements, and ride to individually-chosen choreographed music. Judges award technical and artistic marks which decide the individual medals. The top 18 riders from the combined scores of the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special tests (with a maximum of three athletes per nation) qualify for the Freestyle. Spectacular to watch, the Freestyle really is all about dancing horses!
- PACES – the horse has three paces – walk, trot and canter – and Dressage requires the execution of specified movements or exercises within these paces
- PASSAGE – this is a very elevated trot, with the horse lifting its feet (hooves) in diagonal pairs, but much higher than in normal trot. Passage looks really spectacular when executed correctly
- PIAFFE – this is an elevated trot movement executed on the spot, with the horse literally dancing and not travelling forwards
- PIROUETTE – this is a controlled 360-degree turn executed on the spot in canter. It requires immense concentration from both horse and rider and great athleticism and strength from the horse
- HALF-PASS – a diagonal movement in which the horse moves simultaneously sideways and forwards. It can be done in trot and canter
- FLYING CHANGES – an exceptionally difficult movement in which the horse is asked to change its “leading” legs during the canter, either every two strides or on every stride. The horse appears to be skipping when this is done well
- RECORD-BREAKERS – London 2012 Olympic champions Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro (GBR) were the first partnership ever to score over 90% at an Olympic Games, with an Olympic record score of 90.089% in the Freestyle to Music
Photo: Arnd Bronkhorst