I've been thinking about this post all weekend. Why? Because I just participated in a 2 day clinic with a pretty great trainer. These are some of our exercises we did: (try these at home! They were great!)
-turns on the forehand from halt and worked on crossing hind over at the walk and trot while pivoting off the front leg.
- from the rail leg yield in, straight a step, leg yield back to rail. Half turn, leg yield back to rail. Leg yield in, half turn in reverse, extend the trot down the length of the ring. Repeat.
-concentric circles: leg yielding in to spiral in and out to spiral out.
- serpentine at canter, bending to a counter canter, bending to a counter canter, etc. (technically the start of a counter canter really)
-down center line, haunches in, straighten, haunches, out, straighten, repeat.
-down center line: shoulder in, straighten, shoulder out, straight, repeat.
So tell me... was this a hunter trainer or a dressage trainer?
A HUNTER TRAINER. A very good one who teaches how to work your horse properly to improve balance, athleticism, impulsion, forwardness, etc etc etc. Now, were these movements ridden as well as a top dressage rider would? I think not. We were in a hunter frame -meaning long and low, using the hind end but not as collected. A lot of what we did on the flat used more seat/legs/hand but once we started jumping we got off of our horse's backs. Did we quit riding? No. Did our horse's fall on their faces? No. We weren't "hunter riders doing dressage for a fun experience", IMO, this is just plain and simple good riding. Using a horse to their full potential.
And just to add, there was a top level dressage rider learning to jump who participated. She did quite well actually! Had some difficulties from difference in riding styles, but did ok considering. But there were also some hunters who did quite well in the flatwork portion of the clinic as well. Hm, maybe that would mean that success in a new discipline is dependent on the individual....