Last Updated on March 18, 2022 by Allison Price
We were recently asked what dressage letters meant at our first workshop. Or, more precisely, why are they not A-B-C–D etc.
It left us both feeling a bit confused. It’s not so simple. And what does that mean? Let’s start by looking at the dressage arena, and the positions of those letters.
The letters in the arena measuring 40x20m read A-K–E-H–C-M-B–F with D–X-G in central. In the 60x20m arena, there are a few extra letters: A-K-V-E-S-H-C-M-R-B-P-F with D-L-X-I-G in the centre. It is not easy and there is no rhyme or rhythm to the layout.
So, WHERE DID THESE LETTERS COME OUT OF?
Although there are many theories about where the letters originated, it is not clear what the origin of the letters is.
One theory that is most plausible is the Imperial German Court. The walls of the Royal Manstall’s stable yard were marked before 1918. It was used as an exercise area and measured twice as long as the width. These markings were likely to have been used to mark the place where the groom would hold his horse in anticipation of his rider. Except for A which is Ausgang (exit), and C which is not related) the riders were:
- K – Kaiser: Emperor/King
- V – Vassal: Squire
- E – Ehrengast: Honoured Guest
- S – Schzkanzler: Chancellor
- H – Hofsmarshall : Lord Chancellor
- M – Meier Steward
- R – Ritter: Knight
- B – Bannertrager: Standard Bearer
- P – Pferknecht: Groom
- F – Furst: Prince
There are no definitions of the letters that represent the centre line markers.THE ULTIMATE DRESSAGE COLLECTION
This guide will help you navigate your dressage test and judge scores.Continue reading
HOW DO YOU REMEMBIRE THE DRESSAGE MARKERS?
It is difficult to visualize your dressage layout in an arena if the letters are not rhymed or reasoned. You won’t be able to remember your initials and finals if you don’t have a good photographic memory. You may need to resort to a mnemonic, which is a short phrase or sentence that helps you remember initials and letters.
You can find many examples, so feel free to share them. Here are some:
- From entry, clockwise: All King Victor’s Expensive Show horses Can Manage Really Large Plastic Fences
- Or my personal favorite, All King Victor’s Expensive Show horses Can Make Really Poongy Farts
- Centre Line: Doing Lots Xtra Is Good
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!