Dressage (pronounced English pronunciation: /ˈdɹɛsɑːʒ/) (a French term, most commonly translated to mean "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to the Olympics. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet" (cf. nl:Dressuur). Although the discipline has ancient roots, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit in Europe during the Renaissance. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then. Classical dressage is still considered the basis of trained modern dressage.
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