Whoever said horses don't need anything but for you to 'stay on' doesn't understand much about horses--OR bio mechanics.
If you look down, hollow your back, roach your back, have your hands too low or too high--your horse is going to feel it. If you put your weight into one stirrup and then think 'oh my horse is just hot, she likes to run'--your wrong. Your horse is unbalanced and feels nervous.
Are you really going to say that you're better then the classical dressage (and even some of the great circus riding trainers!) trainers? The men that say that 'you don't train a horse, you train the rider'?
Your horse knows how to do everything which we ask. Haven't you seen them do it in the pasture? It is a matter of teaching us how to stay out of their way--and the only way to do that is with careful, allowing seats and bodies that are in perfect balance. And you know what a rider who is in perfect balance looks like? A good 'equitation' rider.
I really dislike the New Age thought of 'if I'm comfortable then it's good for me! We're all different!' Riding isn't supposed to be easy. Riding isn't supposed to be like just sitting in your lazy boy sofa. You have to train your muscles, your tendons, stretch your ligaments--and guess what? It's not easy! It's hard, and sometimes, it hurts. Anyone ever do Yoga? Anyone ever stretch? The moment it starts to hurt is where you stop--you would never get any more flexible if you never pushed the boundaries.
There was a young trainer I once knew who thought 'I don't ride pretty but I get my horses to do what I want!'. And that's what happened--she was always fighting with her horses. Good trainers--exceptional trainers--never have a need to fight with a horse. Ever. Horses don't 'misbehave'--they don't understand, they're confused, they're scared.
I used to think equitation was important, but I never realized how important until I started riding my Paint Gelding seriously. He's not an athletic horse at all, but with just my seat I can control the amount of impulsion in each back leg. Separately.
Tell me--how do you do that when you're just sitting there 'comfortably'? How do you effect the balance of the horse with your hips if the horse can't tell when you're leaning on purpose or leaning by accident?
'Perfect equitation' is the best place to sit to feel the horse, and influence the horse. End of story--there really is no argument on that one.
Before I go on and on--the amount of ignorance on these boards sometimes scares me--I'll end with some general thoughts on dressage.
Don't think of it as a 'sport'. Dressage is the systematic way of conditioning your horse to carry your weight correctly, to move efficiently, and keep your horse happy and proud of his job. When he can do these things, a jump course is no longer a 'jump course'--it's a dressage ring with these things you go over.
If you want to be serious about riding, you need to practice, every day, on the way that you sit and influence your horse. Your horse will thank you for it.
Sometimes people say it is boring. The things you are asking of your horse require a lot of finesse--so when you go down the side of the arena in a shoulders in, don't think 'GREAT! We did it, what now?'
Think 'good, now how could we improve that?'
Dressage in Jeans
- My blog with dressage tips for happy, relaxed horses, specifically for those who ride dressage in western saddles, no saddles, cowboy boots, or jeans. ;) Also now with cute pygmy goat pictures! :P