Dressage at the Red Hills Horse Trials

Day one of the Red Hills Horse Trials is in the books as horses and riders from 28 states and nine countries saddle up in Tallahassee to showcase their talents.

Many call it an equestrian triathlon. The first day of the Red Hills Horse trials, dressage, is all about elegance and precision. Riders and horses perform a set of classical movements in an enclosed arena. The obedience and suppleness of the horse is being tested.

Jane Barron, dressage steward, says, "Well, this is the first of three phases of this competition and this is really the gymnastic exercise for the horse both strengthening and suppling."

Dressage is often times compared to the ice figures in figure skating. This first event prepares the horse for the endurance test that will follow on the second and third days.

Peter Barry, a rider, says, "You want a horse that is very relaxed and harmonious test where rider and horse appear to be one."

The 8th Annual Red Hills Horse Trials is a three-day event that tests the ability, versatility and preparedness of the horse and rider. Day two of the competition, cross country, tests both the horse and rider's courage, ability and accuracy.

Sally Ausley, co-organizer, says, "That's where they'll be going over ditches, water complexes, and over the beautiful countryside."

The culmination of the event is stadium jumping. In the end the horse and rider with lowest penalty points will be the winners in each division.

T. Codey, a spectator, says, "Well, this is an opportunity in our backyard to see the world's best equestrians from all over the place."

The Red Hills Horse Trials will go on through Sunday. This is a charity event that benefits the Tall Timbers Foundation and Elinor Klapp Phipps Park.