Do you think a dressage frame is important? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 18 Old 01-17-2011, 09:21 AM
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In comparing the difference between dressage and endurance, it is important to look at the history of the two sports and how they evolved to where they are today.

Dressage is a very old dicipline and has its roots in military warfare. The Greek warlord Xenophon, born around 430 BC wrote one of the first manuals on such horse training for battle. To be ready for war, the horse had to be supple and balanced in order to carry not only the rider but also the heavy armour and weapons used in warfare. Additionally the horse had to be obedient and maneuvrable in order to change direction in an instant, dodge a sword sideways and to halt or burst forwards without a moments hesitation. So whilst being supple and balanced was crucial, so were obedience and responsiveness.

For these types of movements - forwards, backwards, sideways or halt in quick sucession, the dressage frame was important as it develops the musculature in the horse appropriately for balance AND responsiveness.

Endurance on the other hand has a different history. The horses are used for stamina and ability to survive harsh desert conditions. Of more importance were the ability to ride across rough terrain and carry a rider, at speed sometimes, across great distances.

The type of musculature necessary for long distance and faster speeds is entirely different to that of precise movements, hence the difference in 'frame' that you see between the two diciplines.

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post #12 of 18 Old 01-17-2011, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
For a horse to work in a dressage frame, it takes more work from them than just going as they would do normally. They would much rather just go along very little changed . It is much easier for them to run around strung out and falling forward. It's much easier for me to slump along as I do than to move as a ballarina does. But the ballarina will last longer physically than I will.

Also, one thing I read recently about "collection" said that as a horse comes to be more and more in a balanced and collected way of going, its' four feet will come closer and closer to each other on the ground. The horse will be balancing itself on a smaller area of contact with the ground.
I find that interesting. Something I never thought about.
So, I am going to start looking at photos and see if there's any truth to that.
I've got to disagree with you. A ballerina moves very differently than a fullback because she isn't playing football.

I'm a jogger. Not fast, but I've jogged long enough that I started with sneakers, because there was no such thing as a 'running shoe' back then. I do NOT look like a sprinter, but a sprinter wouldn't look like one while running on the trails I use - too many rocks, cactus pieces on the trail, and an occasional rattlesnake to remind you that you are not alone.

I told the OP that it isn't mainstream to think a dressage position is required, but his response was accurate:

Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
...I guess saying the belief that horses need to be in a dressage frame to be carrying their rider properly is "mainstream," was a bit exaggerated. Perhaps I should have said it was something I have run across frequently. Most notably in people (some trainers) who have done some lower level dressage and probably read some books about the principles of dressage....Some of these people I have run across seem to look at every discipline through the lense of whether the horse is in a dressage frame...
There ARE folks who write books and give lessons saying that a horse isn't balanced unless he's collected per dressage...and that is wrong. But there are books on my shelf that strongly suggest it!

The steeplechase horses in the picture I posted are not strung out and falling forward. They are moving appropriately for what they are being asked to do. The cutting horse in the picture is very balanced and controlled, but he's not doing dressage.

The OP is right - an endurance horse IS balanced and supporting his rider, because you can't carry a rider 100 miles if you are strung out, off balance and out of control.

I don't want my horse to "be balancing itself on a smaller area of contact with the ground." That would be bad on a rocky trail, and not real wise with a green rider who isn't always balanced himself. A ballerina may move that way, but ballerinas don't play football, or jog on desert trails. There are ideas and principles from dressage that I can incorporate into my riding, but my goal is different - so I need to be careful not to cause problems by taking the wrong parts, when applied to how and where I ride.
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post #13 of 18 Old 01-17-2011, 10:56 AM
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It's more important to think about what *produces* a dressage frame, than the outline itself. It's also important to realize that there isn't one "dressage frame", there are many, depending on the horse's level and what the rider is working on at the moment. Most performance horses do need to be pushing from behind and working through their backs, while those two things are building blocks for dressage, doing those two things alone does not mean you are working in a dressage frame. There's also a range from hollow and inverted through working through the back, to actively rounding the back as when a dressage horse goes on the aids. Most performance horses fail in somewhere in the middle of that range, not hollow or inverted, but not as rounded up through the back as a dressage horse.

For these types of discussions I find it useful to be very strict about the use of the word "collection." It's often used casually in other disciplines to mean a shortened, balanced or united gait, when in the dressage sense, collection means the horse is "sitting down" behind, with a lowered croup and increased angulation in its hind joints and has actually shifted their center of gravity rearward and weighted its hind feet more. Very few disciplines other than dressage truly use collection in its strictest sense. Cutting horses and jumpers may collect briefly, sitting down to turn or execute a manevour; but the rest of the time they and other performance horses travel connected - balanced under the rider, pushed from the hind, united and moving through their back, but not in a dressage frame, and certainly not collected.

There is a tendency that I have noticed among horseman who have recently discovered classical training to be overly enthusiastic about dressage principles, and think it is absolutely the answer to everything. They are partially correct. Correct, obedient flatwork with relaxation, straightness and suppleness IS the answer to most everything, but that doesn't mean every horse needs to travel in a frame, or learn collection in order to do its job.
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post #14 of 18 Old 01-17-2011, 06:36 PM
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Paso Finos go around with their necks nicely arched and head on the vertical even though it's supposedly impossible for them to be collected because of their gait. Headset means nothing.
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post #15 of 18 Old 01-18-2011, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by ponyboy View Post
Paso Finos go around with their necks nicely arched and head on the vertical even though it's supposedly impossible for them to be collected because of their gait. Headset means nothing.
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post #16 of 18 Old 01-18-2011, 03:33 PM
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No comment really, but I DO think it's a good question. I grew up riding many old, sound horses who never knew a thing about "how to carry a rider." They stayed mostly on the forehand, but their legs were fine. Yet these days I often come across the attitude that your horse will break down if you don't get him rounding his back etc. What I see, though, is a lot of big horses having hock problems.
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post #17 of 18 Old 01-21-2011, 08:54 AM
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Also, if a horse were to be in a dressage frame for endurance, he would tire out much sooner then all the other horses. I think that's what everyone is getting at. If a horse were to have a "dressage frame" when he needed an "endurance frame" then he would tire out much too quickly. It's as simple as that. And the arched neck in dressage is also partly to display the horse accepting conact with the bit in a greater amount then in lower levels of dressage.
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post #18 of 18 Old 01-21-2011, 09:09 AM
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I would like to add something else, everyone else has already said it really, but here's another way to look at it. There are various frames. There is a "correct frame" and there is an "incorrect frame". Something I don't think you are grasping is the the "correct frame" can be a "dressage frame" but it isn't always a "dressage frame". If the horse is working correctly this is just the "correct frame". A horse doesn't have a true "dressage frame" until much further down the road of the horse's training.
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