Olympics 2012: Why watch… dressage

An event where the competitors wear top hats and ride dancing horses? What's not to like, asks David Goldblatt

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Despite its stuffy image and the ramrod backs of the riders, dressage is all about swing and rhythm or, as the Germans put it, “Schwung”! Horse and rider must perform a series of closely defined complex movements with ease, grace and suppleness.

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These include shifting between different stride patterns — the walk, trot and canter — but look out for more complex moves like the half-pass, where the horse will trot on the diagonal, and the piaffe, where the horse trots on the spot.

If you really get the taste for dressage, come back for the final rounds next week, which are conducted to music… and all this in the only Olympic event to feature top hats. David Goldblatt

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The Individual and Team Dressage events begin today from 11:00am, BBC Olympics 6