The State of Dressage???
 
 

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The State of Dressage???

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  • Women are ruining dressage
  • "mental Therapy for Horses"

 
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    09-10-2009, 01:41 AM
  #1
Foal
The State of Dressage???

Hi everyone! Dressage is my true love. I have not been showing for years (I have been kidnapped by medical school) and have not really been "in the loop" with attending clinics and keeping up on the latest news. That being said, I need a reality check. I have had a few strange conversations with people that make me wonder if dressage is still what I think it is (effective training concepts that focus on physically building up a horse while fostering the horse-rider partnership).

First, I had to educate someone that dressage was not bad for horses' backs. She was convinced that we just rode them deep and hard - so much so that it would actually be BAD for her horse. I have never met a horse who would not benefit from dressage. Second, I had to educate a different person to understand that we do not ride with strong contact. She simply thought we had tremendous grip and strong arms. Then, to top it off, I had to make another individual understand that we just do not whip our horses forward and that, in fact, we must ride without whips at upper levels.

I do admit, I have been in a bubble lately, but I am just wondering if people still honor the dressage concepts as I do. These instances made me do a double take and ask, what is happening to our sport? This may be harsh, but I fear that certain training concepts (i.e. Rollkur) are ruining our sport's reputation. What do you think? What is the state of dressage? Has anyone else had similar experiences?
     
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    09-10-2009, 02:03 AM
  #2
Showing
I attended my first dressage show in about 5 years a couple of months ago; I noticed a difference even in that short amount of time... well either that or I wasn't as observant when I was younger.
Anyways, I was deeply shocked at how busy the riders were; very few quiet hands and legs. Everyone wore spurs, 99% of the horses had a crank noseband and a flash, and of those, most were too tight. It seemed that a few horses were pushed to compete above their abilities at that time.
To me, the sport in my area in my specific bubble has taken a turn for the worst.
I am saddened by the overuse of questionable training techniques (hyperflexion, aka Rollkur) and equipment (i.e. Too tight crank nosebands and flashes)
     
    09-10-2009, 12:12 PM
  #3
Trained
JDI, what show were you at??

In many areas I think it is a combination of things. Dressage has gotten more popular in North America and there are a lot more people competing in dressage. While this may seem like a good thing, in reality it has "overloaded" our infrastructure of coaches, training programs and trainers. So instead of having a low demand for coaches so the only ones that "make it" are the good ones that know what they're doing, we have a high demand for coaches so people who have no business in an upper level dressage arena are teaching other people how to ride "dressage". What many of these coaches don't understand is that dressage lessons are not like piano lessons, you can't stay one lesson ahead of the kid and succeed, you have to have a full understanding of the biomechanics and training of the horse to grand prix (or at least PSG) to know how to go about fixing things and teaching people properly.
Then these coaches who don't actually know what they're doing, but if they're good people persons, end up with all these students and they don't actually know how to progress them up the levels. So as human nature in many other things would predict, they turn to violence to get the job done. So now we have a "trainer" who by traditional standards is a third level adult amateur rider with 10 students all of whom ride around with collapsed hips, crooked horses and a whip in each hand all on a "training program" where I'm sure the "trainer" rides around on the crooked horses with a whip in each hand at least once a week (depending on how well the horse puts up with the training program).
Etc, etc.
Basically we are living in a grass roots sport right now. Personally, what I think needs to happen is that we need a real certification program for coaches, we need national coaches to help the local coaches and teach them how to ride and train horses properly so that the grass roots coaches can teach that to their students. But all of the money in the provincial bodies and the regional bodies is going directly to the grass roots via awards, un-neccessary clinics, shows up the hoo-haa, etc.. We need a strong national governing body in dressage to lay down the law and get our coaches educated in order to educate the overall dressage community. Online forums will not ever solve the problem :P
     
    09-10-2009, 01:00 PM
  #4
Foal
Anebel, do you think the showing community rewards these amateurs at times? I mean, good scores don't always mean good dressage. Also, with a strong governing body comes politics. We have seen that even in the upper levels for ages. It still will not mean classic dressage concepts will be protected.

We are in the age of information, but many times it is hard to illustrate dressage concepts. I constantly have to think of different ways to discuss collection, straightness, and throughness to honest, smart people who are trying to learn dressage. Online forums are perfect ways to exchange information. In order to learn, you must have contact with up-to-date, good information. Forums like this one are a blessing - Your posts in particular have probably helped tons of riders!

Getting people to think for themselves is a way for them to question their amateur trainer with collapsed hips. Then progression can occur. Also, we must not be so arrogant to think we have nothing further to learn. Come to think of it, maybe someone should look at my hips....

That being said, it is important to allow Dressage to be approachable. I firmly believe dressage can benefit all horses. It is physical and mental therapy for horses. We have to be willing to educate and respectfully correct what we see as improper techniques. Is this possible?
     
    09-10-2009, 01:23 PM
  #5
Showing
I cannot remember which show it was, but it was hosted at Anderson ranch.
     
    09-10-2009, 01:55 PM
  #6
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustDressageIt    
I cannot remember which show it was, but it was hosted at Anderson ranch.
Cool! I was riding in that.
Sad thing is that was most of our "better" riders in Alberta.
PS I'm assuming it was the Gold one and not one of the schooling shows.. Our schooling shows are abysmal.


Aynelson - I still stand by my firm belief that in order to encourage education we need real people in real life teaching correct concepts. Yes my posts may have helped some riders, but then what will that do? Having one more puzzle piece of a 1000 piece puzzle won't solve the puzzle. Information in the wrong contexts is very, very dangerous because most of the time people don't know what they don't know, they get 50 puzzle pieces and imagine where the other 950 go. Until North America (especially Canada) has a structured program for teaching and learning in dressage it will stay in the dark ages.
Internet forums will not solve the problem, real life programs, incentives and structure will.
     
    09-10-2009, 02:14 PM
  #7
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~    
Cool! I was riding in that.
Sad thing is that was most of our "better" riders in Alberta.
PS I'm assuming it was the Gold one and not one of the schooling shows.. Our schooling shows are abysmal.


Aynelson - I still stand by my firm belief that in order to encourage education we need real people in real life teaching correct concepts. Yes my posts may have helped some riders, but then what will that do? Having one more puzzle piece of a 1000 piece puzzle won't solve the puzzle. Information in the wrong contexts is very, very dangerous because most of the time people don't know what they don't know, they get 50 puzzle pieces and imagine where the other 950 go. Until North America (especially Canada) has a structured program for teaching and learning in dressage it will stay in the dark ages.
Internet forums will not solve the problem, real life programs, incentives and structure will.

Anebel, I don't think I saw you, I was only there one night.

I really don't know what to say.
I was only there one night to watch the freestyles, hoping it would spark some sort of desire to show and compete again... it pretty much did the opposite. Lots of bouncing in the saddle, lots of hand, lots of unhappy horses in crank nosebands adjusted too tight then strapped together with a flash. The one PSG horse I saw was moved into PSG much too early; he hadn't a clue how to hold together a piaffe.

This IS NOT what dressage it about!!
Grrrr..

Haha.

     
    09-10-2009, 07:44 PM
  #8
Green Broke
Am I wrong in thinking that Dressage is becoming another victim of the show industry? I don't know a whole lot about Dressage, but growing up, it always seemed so "quiet". Dressage shows never had turn out like jumping shows, and even the advertising was low key. It was like the purpose of Dressage was exactly what it should be - to display remarkable skill for no other reason then personal satisfaction.

Now, it's like it's been glorified with all the rest. The competition is hot and heavy, and people have stopped caring about the art and start going for the ribbons. I always loved Dressage for that reason. So many equine disciplines, it's just blatantly obvious that the individuals participating don't even neccesarily LIKE horses, it was just something they were good enough at to wrack up a collection of trophies to brag about. It seems to me like Dressage is heading down that same horrible path...people not caring HOW they get there, as long as they get there. Which just depresses me, as it's the complete 110% opposite of what Dressage represents.

I worked briefly at a Dressage barn and I loved the woman who owned it, actually an old family friend (the same woman who has a bridleless Dressage vid on YouTube). As long as I've known her, she's been working on her Hanoverian stallion. She's admitted he doesn't have ideal Dressage conformation, and doesn't push him. It's been easily a decade, and just the last time I saw him he was doing lovely tempi changes and still working on his pirhouettes. She doesn't show him, in fact she rarely shows at all anymore, just trains.

The art of Dressage is being lost to an industry consumed by glory. I thought it was above it, but I suppose whereever there are glittery things to be won and bragging rights to be had, greed will eventually take over.
     
    09-10-2009, 10:26 PM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~    
Cool! I was riding in that.
Sad thing is that was most of our "better" riders in Alberta.
PS I'm assuming it was the Gold one and not one of the schooling shows.. Our schooling shows are abysmal.


Aynelson - I still stand by my firm belief that in order to encourage education we need real people in real life teaching correct concepts. Yes my posts may have helped some riders, but then what will that do? Having one more puzzle piece of a 1000 piece puzzle won't solve the puzzle. Information in the wrong contexts is very, very dangerous because most of the time people don't know what they don't know, they get 50 puzzle pieces and imagine where the other 950 go. Until North America (especially Canada) has a structured program for teaching and learning in dressage it will stay in the dark ages.
Internet forums will not solve the problem, real life programs, incentives and structure will.
Anebel - that is totally true. But, how do you propose this happen? I mean, the reputation of dressage is in real trouble. Real life training is certainly the most effective way to evaluate, correct, and learn. Of course people don't know what they don't know, but I guess I am just more hopeful that not everyone is a blistering idiot. I hope most reasonable people can benefit from having access to good information. But, you are right about needing real life, training interaction. How would you remedy the political problems that would accompany a governing body?

I am not convinced that solely making a governing body for education can change this atmosphere of misinformation. I have encountered people who have real misgivings about training concepts. These are things you may not need a riding lesson to understand. The idea of collection, bend, straightness, suppleness (etc.) can be thoroughly discussed without a lesson. You must agree that we can certainly glean information from books, videos, forums (in addition to real life experiences). Some people who live in areas where dressage is remote benefit this way. Sadly, we cannot have wonderful trainers down every road.

Internet forums certainly cannot teach you a riding lesson, but they can give information, provide a place to inquire, and exchange information. I do agree with you and you have a great point, but I would not dis internet forums (especially since we are communicating via one).
     
    09-11-2009, 07:54 PM
  #10
Trained
JDI - I was there too haha I left before the freestyles though. I can't stand to watch them. There's also no piaffe in PSG?? So I don't know who you'd be talking about...
I don't know if you saw the horse in the fashion show, but I groomed it!! Hahaha :P
If you want to see decent stuff then don't go watch the freestyles, if you're not busy next weekend (19th & 20th) you should come to the westerner in red deer and see regionals! I'll point out people to watch :P

Aynelson - I used to like to believe that inherently people were smart, but through life experience I've come to the conclusion that everyone in the world should be assumed to be a blistering idiot until they've proven me wrong.
Yes, one lesson is not going to fix anything. If there is a heirarchy and everyone has someone above them to keep them humble that would be a start. I don't know how many military movies you watch... but that's basically my point, there needs to be a ton more structure in the coaching world.
Yes I also agree that internet forums are a great place to share ideas and exchange information, but they will never replace a proper riding coach.
     

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