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Barb's Olympic Adventure Continues
Posting 9: Dressage (Equestrian) Events

Curriculum CenterBarbara Taddeo is at the Olympic Games -- and she is sharing the experience with Education World readers! Taddeo, a middle school special education teacher from San Mateo, California, will share her observations -- and some activities too. Follow Taddeo's journey through her reports from Sydney!

If you have questions or comments for Barbara Taddeo, visit the Education World message board.

It is a great day for ducks today! The weather did not get above 19C and it begin to rain on and off during the competition so the stalwart crowd, including the volunteers, rapped themselves in plastic to watch the event.

Today at the horse park was the start of the dressage events. Dressage is a very precise sport of exact movements a horse must make in a 20 meter by 60-meter area ringed by a small fence about one foot high. Along the rail at various points there are letters at which the horse must begin and end specific movements such as extended trots, walks, and canters. The letters are between and 6 and 12 meters apart. When riders enter the arena they walk down the center of the arena and tip their hats to the judges; then the riders begin their ballet on horseback. Each rider must complete exactly the same moves as all of the other riders. They are judged by 4 different judges. One final score is given. The goal is to make a perfect score (100 percent), but no one does. For this horse sport the audience must remain perfectly quiet while the horse and rider are going through their routine.

If any of you have seen the movie about the Lipizzaners from Vienna they are performing dressage moves. Those horses are sometimes called the "dancing horses."

The countries that excel at dressage are Germany, The Netherlands, and several other European countries. After two riders for each team performed today, the U.S. was in third place in the team dressage competition. Each team has four riders in the competition.

The best rider and horse combination in the world is Isbell Werth on Gigolo. They have been a working team since 1987. They live in Rheinberg, Germany. Gigolo is a wonderful 17-year-old Hanoverian breed, liver chestnut (dark brown) in color. Isbell and Gigolo have won every event in the world they have entered since 1989. They are a legend in the horse world, and a pleasure to watch. Watching Gigolo is like watching one of the finest ballet dancers in the world. He just floats around the arena and makes it look so easy. Later in the week, Isbell and Gigolo will be performing to music in an event called a musical kurn, or ballet, on horseback.

Just like dogs and cats, horses come in many breeds. Some horse breeds, such as Hanoverians and warmbloods, are suited for dressage while thoroughbreds and quarter horses are suited for jumping.

The British Horse Society Web site is an excellent resource for learning about different horse breeds. It is also an excellent source of horse clip art.


Today, instead of just focusing on the visual aspects of the horse show I have chosen to sit near the radio broadcasters in the press booth and just listen! Broadcasters from throughout the world are broadcasting their coverage of the Games via radio. (People in the United States and some other parts of the world take for granted that we can watch a television broadcast of the Games. In many parts of the worlds the only coverage is on radio.)

Listening to the radio broadcaster has given me a different perspective of the Games. It is fun listening to the different dialects and the manner in which commentators explain the same contestant in the arena. My favorites are the Irish broadcasters; their love of horses and the sport are wonderful to listen to.

The Italians and Brazilians are fun to listen to because they become so excited about the event. I particularly enjoy listening to them while they are explaining the mountain biking events, which I have been able to watch this week because our venues are next door to each other. It is also very funny to watch them because they gesture as they talk.

Teachers: Today, have your students work in pairs. Have each pair pretend they are radio broadcasters. Pick an Olympic sport they have enjoyed watching and have the pair "broadcast" to the rest of the class about that sport. Use the team scores posted on the Internet and in your local newspaper as a guide to the broadcasts. Use a set of headphones and a microphone as props. The broadcasters must include information about the sport and the athletes involved!

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Barbara Taddeo has created these activities for the students of three schools -- but she has been kind enough to agree to share her daily reports with Education World's readers. We're pleased to be included in these daily mailings to the students in Taddeo's 7th grade class in Room 31 at Borel Middle School in San Mateo, California; Mrs. Hirschmann's class at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Turersville, New Jersey; and Lacey Rhoades' class in Mesa, Arizona.

Barbara Taddeo
Education World®
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