Dressage is moving into the digital age in an attempt to broaden its appeal and accessibility.
For the first time, virtual dressage competitions are available online. From last week, riders were able to download recorded readings of dressage tests from www.interdressage.com.

After learning the tests, riders video themselves at home before sending their entry, along with a £10 fee, to the website. Listed judge Glynis Mills will officiate monthly. Winners will receive rosettes and prize-money — the amount of which will depend on the number of entries — by post.

The website is the brainchild of instructor Karina Hawkridge. She told H&H: “I’ve trialled the system with clients and it’s given them something to focus on rather than aimlessly working their horses.

“The idea is to get more people interested in dressage, who perhaps don’t yet feel confident enough to compete, or can’t get to shows because of their location, time constraints, or lack of transport.”

In December, www.audiodressage.com, in association with British Dressage (BD), launched downloadable dressage tests that can be listened to on an MP3 player. Browsing the site is free and it costs £1.50 to download a test.

Site founder Jane Holt told H&H that she hopes to offer Pony Club and riding club tests in the next few weeks, and schooling exercises in the upcoming months.

“Mainly prelim and novice tests are being downloaded,” she said.

Mrs Holt said that, at present, approximately 100 tests a week were being downloaded.

BD spokesman Jo Bagnall told H&H she welcomed the innovations.

“The way we learn is changing and anything that opens dressage up for more people and helps them is a good thing,” she reasoned.

Read this news story in full in the current issue of Horse & Hound (19 April, ’07)