Cross Training for Hunters - Page 2

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Cross Training for Hunters

This is a discussion on Cross Training for Hunters within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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        04-17-2010, 11:10 PM
    Green Broke
    Originally Posted by maura    

    Making a distinction between dressage and flatwork may seem like nitpicking; but the distinction to me is clear - the goal of dressage is developing collection and the collected gaits, the goal of flatwork is simply a supple, responsive horse. There is no need for a hunter to ever be ridden in true collection.
    EXCELLENT points as always Maura! You're right, there is no need for a hunter to be ridden in true collection, but all those things you trained your hunters to do (different speeds, lateral work, etc).... aren't they essentially... dressage? Do you call it flatwork simply b/c the tip if your pyramid isn't true collection? I mean, is a shoulder-in a dressage exercise or a flatwork exercise? (or just, an exercise?) IMO it's a fine line indeed! Although I suppose since I generally call it "good flatwork" we're on the same page!
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        04-17-2010, 11:26 PM

    Yes, I'm pretty sure we're on the same page.

    And I looked at another thread of Ocala's, with photos of her horse working in a nice, active, forward training level frame. So I'm pretty sure when she says she doesn't want to do dressage, she's talking about something more intensive than the hunter schooling I just described.

    But I think it's an important distinction, partially because of my Littauer background and partially because I do think the *goal* of the training is an important consideration. Even though a signifigant majority of dressage riders never compete above first level; the top of their training pyramid is still collection. Therefore, their training is different than the hunter rider's; whose goal is different, though the may use some of the same exercises to achieve those goals.

    I can't tell you how many times I've read threads on this board about hunters, jumpers or event horses where someone expresses the opinion that dressage is critical to their training, and I say to my computer monitor "NO, *flatwork* is critical; you don't want a hunter, jumper or event horse working in collection!"

    Thanks for the opportunity to express myself on this pet peeve.
        04-17-2010, 11:52 PM
    Thank you all very much for your replies. I completely agree with maura that a distinction has to be made between hunters and dressage, but not between quality flatwork in two different saddles and frames.

    To answer your question upnover, I use by seat, legs, hands(lightly) and voice to fix those problems, just like a dressage rider does minus voice. I just do it in a different mindset and with a slightly different goal in mind. No, dressage is not the ultimate answer, only one way to school flatwork. I have also ridden with some very prestigious people, and they generally make a firm distinction between hunters and dressage. You are confusing good horsemanship and training on the flat for one discipline.

    The collection issues I am having are not, per se, true collection issues as my horse and I are not at the point where we are schooling true collection. Our problem lies especially in the canter when he wants to ride in a very natural step and I feel like the added frame frustrates him and distracts him from focusing on the rhythm and flow of his step. He feels very frustrated when he is not allowed to do "his thing". Of course, he does need discipline, but I feel that it is fair for him to want to ride naturally and comfortably if it means he likes his job.

    Cougar, I see your point for sure. Having a forward, uphill movement is very important, and I am trying to find the balance between natural step and asking my poor little downhill horse to pick himself up a little ;) In that aspect, borrowing some dressage exercises may help me out.
        04-17-2010, 11:57 PM
    Green Broke
    Well thank you Maura for making me think a little on this one! To be quite honest my pet peeve is the phrase "jumping is just dressage with speed bumps". (i'm going to upset a lot of people on here for saying that i'm sure!) Particularly b/c when I think of a speed bump I think of something that changes your pace and 'smoothness', but also something about the picture in my mind of someone going like a dressage rider (collected) inbetween the fences is not necessarily what you're wanting. And yes, I supposed to "goal" of the training is an important factor. And I suppose I don't call myself a dressage rider for more reasons then the color of my tack. Okay, okay, I agree, there is a difference! :)
        04-18-2010, 12:18 AM
    Wow, great insight!! I posted my reply a little late ;)

    I agree! I like the phrase "A jump is just another canter step", though...seems to make more sense when rhythm is concerned.
        04-18-2010, 07:38 AM
    Wait until the next time somebody posts something negative about hunter rider's form and perching; that's the next pet peeve that needs feeding, watering and exercise.

    Ocala, if you horse shortens and lengthens in the canter willingly, has a clear, rhythmic, three beat canter and you have three clear speeds, then I wouldn't worry about him not being willing to carry more frame. He's doing what he needs to do in order to negotiate a course and meet his fences correctly.

    I wish I could see your horse in person. Since he's clearly willing to work in a frame happily in a trot, per your photos, I wonder if his resistance when you ask for more in the canter is his saying "This is all I've got; I can't do any more?"
        04-18-2010, 10:00 AM
    Oooh I love this thread !! I never knew anyone else thought like this !

    Upnover you make a great point about 'dressage with speed bumps' I have never liked that phrase either !
        04-18-2010, 10:21 AM
    I can't tell you how many times I've read threads on this board about hunters, jumpers or event horses where someone expresses the opinion that dressage is critical to their training, and I say to my computer monitor "NO, *flatwork* is critical; you don't want a hunter, jumper or event horse working in collection!"
    Flat Work is just another name for Dressage. When we say "Jumping Is Dressage With Speed Bumps" we are not saying that you should be going around the Jumper Course or Hunter Course like one would while riding a 3rd level dressage test.

    When I clinic with riders who are far above me in levels, I hear them stress how important basic dressage is for the horse and rider. I hear 3 star eventers, 4 star eventers, riders like George Morris and Jim Wofford and David O'Connor and many other big named riders saying the same thing - how important dressage is for the jumper.

    Heck, there have been many articles in the Practicle Horseman about how important Dressage is for the Jumper and the Hunter.

    No, you don't go around in a collected frame like one would in a Dressage Ring - that's rediculous. Your horse has to be in Jumper or Hunter frame, but they cannot be flat, they cannot be heavy, they cannot be moving around in different rhythms, they cannot come in unbalanced nor can they not come in unresponsive to the riders aids - seat, legs, upper body.

    You don't go around in a dressage seat, but the aids, and riding seat into legs into hands is still just as important in the Hunter and Jumper ring, as it is in the Dressage Ring.

    So yes, Jumping Is Dressage With Speed Bumps - because you have to have a horse that is rhythmical, you have to have a horse that can transition between going long and coming back down under you. You have to have a horse that is responsive to aids and that is round *meaning back up into your seat* and your horse has to be on their hind end and not plowing around on their front ends.

    You achieve that through dressage. Afterall - Flat Work is Dressage.

    We are not talking about how a horse would go around in a 2nd or 3rd level dressage test - we are talking about the dressage fundamentals needed to accomplish that hunter round and jumper round well - via dressage.

    If Grand Prix Jumpers spend the majority of their time emphasising their training on Dressage, there's a reason.

    Of course, an Eventer such as myself will view Dressage differently than a Hunter, because we have to face Dressage in our daily training due to how important that score is for us in competition.

    I invite you to read George Morris's column in the Practicle Horseman Magazine dated April 2009 titled "Dressage For Jumpers" where it discusses about riders of George Morris's clinic spending a full day doing only Dressage with Olympian Robert Dover where he works with them on a Balanced Seat, Forward And Strait, Balancing horse through rider from, and Basic Principles Of Riding - to take that emphasis of dressage to improve their riding in the Hunter/Jumper ring.

    Yes, Jumping is dressage with speed bumps. When working on your flat work or dressage - you want balance, you want impulsion, you want lengthenging and shortening of strides, you want a horse light on their forehand and working off of their back, you want the horse to be respsonsive to your seat, legs, and all aids - and then to beable to transfer that into the Hunter/Jumper Show Ring.

    Yes, Dressage makes your sport that much more tuned and refined.
        04-18-2010, 10:40 AM
    Green Broke
    ^ GREAT post MIEventer!

    I 100% agree. I don't see a difference between basic flatwork and basic dressage. You are teaching the horse to do the exact same thing. Be relaxed, supple, and listen to your aids
        04-18-2010, 01:01 PM
    Dressage helps jumpers achieve a goal of uphill, engaged frames. It prohibits hunters from achieving the natural frame because of different goals. Maura had a couple great posts about that, and I'm sure George Morris would agree, based on his criticisms, that hunters need to be relaxed and natural. Also, you are citing eventer sources, who of course must incorporate dressage into their program because it is the cornerstone for their sport.

    Dressage fundamentals prepare a horse for dressage competition. Some of the exercises they use can also prepare a horse for competition. The bottom of the training pyramid is the basis for ALL horse training, whether that be western pleasure or eventing. The way that riders achieve the goals of dressage is different based on the goal at hand. Read some of Maura's posts above, she really explains this much better than I can from the perspective of a hunter judge. Also check out USEF Horse of the Year Curtain Call and Courtney Calcagnini

    Maura- I don't quite know what you mean. I would love to send you some photos or something of my horse and see what you think.

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