WHAT IS A QUADRILLE?
A Quadrille is a choreographed ride, commonly performed to music, which is often compared to an equestrian ballet or to a drill team. A minimum of four horses are used, although many times more (always in pairs), which perform movements together. Quadrille is most simply defined as team riding.
The most famous, readily identifiable quadrilles are those of the Spanish Riding School and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and it has become a competitive sport in this country recently. It is an activity suitable to persons of all ages, including youth groups such as 4-H and Pony Club.
WHY DO IT?
First, drill riding is a test of the most basic riding skills - being able to control your speed and direction at all times. It improves rider/horse communication in a group atmosphere of teamwork and camaraderie. Second, it's so much fun! Quadrille teams are crowd pleasers. It is one of my favorite things to do, and I like to incorporate it into my lesson programs for a little challenge and a change of pace.
HOW TO DO IT
The team performs as a cohesive group, and you must be aware of your partner's position at all times. Freestyle rides are more complex, creating a "kaleidoscope effect" as horses interweave choreography and music. For it to look right, teams need to keep even spacing (from rider to rider), move and turn in synchrony and maintain alignment throughout the ride - i.e crossing the center line at the exact same time, meeting and passing left shoulder to left shoulder at the correct points, matching your gait to the speed of the music, etc.
Take at look at this (3 min) musical Quadrille I put together using a client's gaited horses, and note that the other three riders were all basically beginners and had never done a drill ride before! After just a few practices, it was pretty accurate. I am leading on the big liver chestnut horse. Enjoy.