Dressage, with its dancelike maneuvers by the horse controlled by subtle cues from riders, will occupy much of the Main Stadium at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games when four days of competition start Monday.
The event has been compared to the exacting movements of ice skating's school figures and described as horse ballet. A panel of judges scores the competition.
In the Grand Prix, or team competition, and Grand Prix Special, each horse and rider perform the same test, a combination of movements and gaits designed to demonstrate the achievement of certain qualities the sport demands.
The Fédération Equestre Internationale describes the object of dressage as "the development of the horse into a happy athlete through harmonious education. As a result, it makes the horse calm, supple, loose and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with his rider."
Freestyle is an original ride of compulsory figures and movements, choreographed to music.
Team entries come from 18 countries, with individuals from an additional six nations.
The U.S. team is comprised of test-event winner Tina Konyot on Calecto V, a likely favorite in Steffen Peters on Ravel, Todd Flettrich on Otto and Katherine Bateson- Chandler on Nartan.
The first half of the Grand Prix is set for Monday, with sessions at 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday's second half will adhere to the same time schedule.
The top 30 riders move on to the Grand Prix Special, scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Finally, the top 15 from the Special advance to Friday's Grand Prix Freestyle, which will play out before a sellout crowd of about 25,000 at 7 p.m.