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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
  • Cross training for the hunter jumper rider
  • Cross-training hunter jumpers

 
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    04-18-2010, 09:55 PM
  #21
Green Broke
Now MIE, don't go misunderstanding what I'm saying about the whole "jumping is just dressage with speed bumps" phrase, as me thinking dressage (or as some will say, "good flatwork") is unnecessary! Surely you've read A FEW of my posts (we've both been a part of HF a while) or at least the earlier posts to this thread. It's just a phrase I don't like b/c I don't like the picture it puts in my head. I agree with the point it makes, I just don't think it's a great analogy. Believe me, flatwork/dressage is the tool I use daily to make my jumping better. It's something I hound every one of my students to do better. I pay an arm and a leg to work regularly with a dressage instructor.

What Maura is saying is NOT that dressage (or good flatwork) isn't important. Obviously it's crucial. She prefers to call it "flatwork" b/c
Dressage as a discipline is a progression of training with the ultimate goal of collection. Her stance is that a hunter/jumper has a different goal in mind so it isn't pure "Dressage". Hunters/jumpers use dressage exercises/principles with the goal of making our course the best it can be. So she calls it flatwork. Some may say, potato/potahto but I see her point. I'll probably still call it dressage for the sake of not confusing people on HF... but I see her point.
     
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    04-18-2010, 10:13 PM
  #22
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by ocalagirl    
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.

.....

No, no I really enjoy hearing from your perspective! I see what you mean, I just feel like asking Ocala to move strictly upward in a frame like I would a more uphill warmblood just makes him upset because it really doesn't feel natural. I do school dressage principles, but I don't feel like the frame translates well. I give all the half-halts and leg that I feel is right, but he just doesn't like to be in that collection frame.

Do you think I should keep trying anyway? I have thought that I should just move on and not make him angry because he really doesn't get upset with much...


Back to the OP... Regarding his canter, the main question I have is, how is his natural canter? You've mentioned 1) He gets upset when asked to be in a frame 2) he's downhill. Lots of green horses are naturally on their forehand and need to be taught how to engage their hind end and be round. It is especially difficult for a downhill horse to do that. In my experience sometimes they aren't happy to b/c it's hard! Horses are not always eager to learn new things if it's hard for them but it doesn't mean they shouldn't learn it. I'm not saying you need to force him into a collected uphill warmblood frame (or whatever you want to call it). But make sure you aren't backing away from making him use himself properly just b/c he might get upset. I'm working with a particularly downhill horse now and it's hard! He's never going to achieve true collection, and that's ok. He wasn't ecstatic about learning how to be round, and that's ok. He thought learning the shoulder-in was not fun. But it's ok. He does it anyways and now that he's learning it and (most importantly) getting strong so he CAN do them, he's much much happier. And his canter is light years ahead! (still needs lots of work though!) So first make sure that you're asking things correctly from him (particularly make sure you're allowing him to go forward at the canter) but don't be afraid to challenge him a little! (While knowing his limits!)
     
    04-18-2010, 10:13 PM
  #23
Green Broke
*ive only read a few posts* but I think dressage and flatwork is the same thing, the basics of dressage is a supple, relaxed horse, and that's what hunters want, haha but I thinkit would be hard to ride a hunter course with a collected horse... but there are 'dressage tests' with jumps in them. I really want to try them! Haha
     
    04-18-2010, 10:30 PM
  #24
Trained
Quote:
Now MIE, don't go misunderstanding what I'm saying about the whole "jumping is just dressage with speed bumps" phrase, as me thinking dressage (or as some will say, "good flatwork") is unnecessary! Surely you've read A FEW of my posts (we've both been a part of HF a while) or at least the earlier posts to this thread. It's just a phrase I don't like b/c I don't like the picture it puts in my head. I agree with the point it makes, I just don't think it's a great analogy. Believe me, flatwork/dressage is the tool I use daily to make my jumping better. It's something I hound every one of my students to do better. I pay an arm and a leg to work regularly with a dressage instructor.

What Maura is saying is NOT that dressage (or good flatwork) isn't important. Obviously it's crucial. She prefers to call it "flatwork" b/c
Dressage as a discipline is a progression of training with the ultimate goal of collection. Her stance is that a hunter/jumper has a different goal in mind so it isn't pure "Dressage". Hunters/jumpers use dressage exercises/principles with the goal of making our course the best it can be. So she calls it flatwork. Some may say, potato/potahto but I see her point. I'll probably still call it dressage for the sake of not confusing people on HF... but I see her point.
I always read your posts upnover, I appreciate your education and level of experience.

I understand what you are saying, and I did misunderstand where you were coming from and I appreciate your effort to clarify. My appologies.

Yes, I understand that the top of the training scale of Dressage Riders is "collection" and that Hunters strive for a different goal. But I don't see much of a difference in "FlatWork" and "Dressage" just as you said, one says Potatoe, and the other says Potato.

Lets take GP Jumpers for example. They spend many days a week doing just Dressage Work or aka Flatwork. Many of these riders were Hunters - take Beezie Madden as a prime example. Now these horses can do minimally level 3 dressage movements, but, do we see them going around course in a dressage collected frame?

No.

But what we do see - are horses who will extend when asked, and collect when asked *meaning shortening their stride* we see horses doing flying lead changes and roll backs and we see them moving on their hind ends and using their backs.

We see soft and supple horses who are responsive to their riders aids, and most importantly - balanced, engaged and strong horses who have the importancies of what Dressage gives them, to be succesful jumpers.

So when I hear the phrase "Jumping is dressage with speed bumps" I see just that - exactly what we see when we watch a GP Jumper round. I don't picture a GP Dressage Mount going around a jumper course just as they would while doing a dressage test.

I guess the phrase gives people different ideas, which is understandable. I believe we are all saying the same thing, just differently.
     
    04-19-2010, 06:33 AM
  #25
Banned
Exactly, MIE. I doubt you and I disagree about training philosophy all that much. I just find flatwork vs. dressage a useful distinction to make, and here are a few more reasons why: How I ride and ask for various forms of flatwork or dressage is *different* on a hunter, an event horse, a show jumper or a dressage horse.

Starting at one end of the scale, on a hunter, the contact is going to be very light and mostly passive. I am going to use weight, rather than my seat as an aid and I want my horse to be freely forward and not continously held between my aids but having some independence of movement. At the other end of the scale, on a dressage horse, the contact is, well, a dressage contact, very active, seat is a primary aid and I do want the horse held continiously between my aids and to be controlling or influencing each and every footfall.

Event horses and show jumpers are somewhere in the middle. Jimmy Wofford has written several columns and articles about as the importance of dressage has risen in event scoring and more event riders are getting good dressage foundations, horses are losing independence of movement and the ability to negotiate obstacles without the rider's direction. Being held continuously between the rider's aids, and the rider dictating each footfall, leads to disaster on xc. Wofford actually blames the recent rash of bad xc accidents on what he calls "show jumping at speed." So it's quite a challenge for the event rider to produce a supple and obedient dressage test but still have a horse that will think for himself and jump his way out of trouble.

Show jumpers are one level closer to dressage horses on this scale. The young riders in the George Morris clinic you referenced from the PH article are some of the top eq riders in the country who will be moving into GP jumping shortly, and a lot of that article was about precision and having the horse held continuously between the rider's aids. Not collection, of course, but definitely guiding every footfall. Probably appropriate for this level of rider, but a junior or amateur? Uh-uh. Same sort of recipe for disaster as the event horse. You want a junior or amateur jumper to be able to think for themselves and jump themselves out of trouble.

My favorite jumper riders and stylists are the ones that ride in a more huntery style - think Conrad Holmfeld and Joe Fargis at the LA Olympics, or Greg Best. However, I'll concede that style doesn't always work on a tight, highly technical course.

So, for me, it stops being flatwork and starts being dressage when the horse becomes more submissive and is held continously between the rider's aids. AND, that's why I want to do *flatwork* with a hunter or event horse - I want them to retain that independence. For me personally, I feel the same way about a jumper, but I understand that to jump today's technical courses, a GP rider is more towards the dressage side.

If you don't find it a useful distinction, that's fine. It's just words, after all. But I do think it's important to think about the goals of our training and what kind of horse we want to end up with.
     
    04-19-2010, 08:43 PM
  #26
Green Broke
I think I've read some of those articles by Jim! I cliniced with someone who was telling me about a study they did where they took a GP dressage rider and GP show jumper and switched horses. The jumping horse was able to do dressage (obviously not to the degree the dressage horse could) but the dressage horse had a hard time showjumping. Particularly because he couldn't (wouldn't?) think for himself and was always waiting for the rider to tell him where to put each foot. He wasn't trained to think on his own. Something you definitely want for an eventer or show jumper I'd think! Fascinating.
     
    04-19-2010, 09:10 PM
  #27
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by upnover    
I think I've read some of those articles by Jim! I cliniced with someone who was telling me about a study they did where they took a GP dressage rider and GP show jumper and switched horses. The jumping horse was able to do dressage (obviously not to the degree the dressage horse could) but the dressage horse had a hard time showjumping. Particularly because he couldn't (wouldn't?) think for himself and was always waiting for the rider to tell him where to put each foot. He wasn't trained to think on his own. Something you definitely want for an eventer or show jumper I'd think! Fascinating.
that is cool, the stupid thing is, so many jumping horses can do dressage, but way to many dressage horses are so crazy and only ever ridden dressage in an indoor arena that they would have a meltdown if you asked them to jump. It amazes me how people let their horses get so crazy sometimes.
     
    04-19-2010, 09:54 PM
  #28
Foal
Wow that amazes me too! It is nice to see that other riders look into these types of things! I agree about contact differences. As a hunter/dressage transition rider I found it very hard to change between different kinds of contact, seat aids, and positions.

My horse carries himself very nicely, and responds through light seat half-halts. He is also supple in the bridle most of the time (he had a bad accident a while ago that left scar tissue by his left lip, which has prohibited some of his suppleness just in the bit). However, when I try and sit him all the way back on his haunches he gets defensive and choppy. His back is not sore, and he is sound. Maybe I'm not challenging him enough, because I do at times think of him as my "perfect baby", who I will love no matter what :) I've become soft in my year off! I can send some flat photos to you in a pm if you want...
     
    04-20-2010, 11:27 PM
  #29
Weanling
Ocalagirl - a little off topic, but I have an idea for your canter (obviously won't be specific since I haven't seen him go). It sounds like he tenses up and gets nervous when you ask for the frame at the canter. Have you tried asking for the frame for a few strides, getting it for a few strides, and then giving back and letting him go in his natural frame. Keep repeating it until he stays nice and quiet and soft while in frame for those few strides. Then slowly lengthen the amount of time in frame. Maybe if he sees the reward at the end and realizes that you aren't going to trap him, he will respond more favorably. I did this with my greenie and it has worked wonders (obviously different between a horse that hasn't been taught and reteaching a horse; I'll take the ignorant one any day). Best of luck to you.

Oh, and for the record, I have a hard time calling the hunter flat-work dressage as well, mainly due to the frame. My old eq horse could do all maneuvers up to and a few above level 3, but I woulld have been laughed out of the arena due to his long and low frame. But for his job, it was what he needed to do.
     

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