European and American riding - the differences? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-10-2011, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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European and American riding - the differences?

I recently took a few lessons with a man from Austria who had, for about four years, helped train at the Spanish Riding School. His advice and instruction got me thinking about what the differences between European's riding principles and Americans.

My question to you is; What differences have you noticed between European and American riding principles?

The first thing I noticed was how often he told me about my seat. Even when I was deep and engaged he talked about everything else stemming from it. My US instructors told me when my seat was wrong, but once they liked it they moved on to the next thing. He continuously reminded me of it. He also spoke a lot about not only engaging the horses back end, but moving from it, that I can't even think about doing anything with my hands until I have the horse coming from behind. My US instructors again just told me to engage, then when they saw it they told me to move on to other things. I suppose he generally spoke in more connected terms, that everything was stemming from the seat and everything more complicated from that was from the base.

If you need clarification on any of that, feel free to ask!

Go forth and share what your experiences have been when it comes to European and American riding principles!
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-10-2011, 11:49 AM
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My hunter coach in the US would have us take a light seat always. This contributed to my falling off nearly every time my horse refused a jump because I was not secure in my saddle.

My showjumping/XC coach in Ireland taught me to sit back, deep in the seat and drive the horse forward from my seat. Over a jump I would get in to jumping position and fold from my hips. This resulted in me having a very secure seat, reducing refusals and staying put even if my horse refused, and as a result, being a more confident rider.

I'm going to try eventing when I return to the US and am very curious to see how my next coach will teach me!
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-10-2011, 01:00 PM
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My current trainer learned/worked under instructors from Spanish Riding School, and I didn't take lessons from other dressage instructor, so I have no idea if it's different. Would be curious to hear the opinions!

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post #4 of 12 Old 08-10-2011, 01:39 PM
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I think the European instructors may have spent a lot more time getting to the place where they are teachers. They grow up with the idea that you take the time needed and you lay the foundation and no one cuts corners. Foundation, foundation, foundation. If the student is bored, too bad.
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-10-2011, 11:17 PM
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Your Austrian coach sounds just like my current coach, who is originally from California.

I honestly think that the teaching you get depends on the coach. My coach had to really focus a lot on her flatwork and dressage with ehr last upper level hors,e because the mare was pretty difficult to get going correctly on the flat, and because of that she had a lot of lessons with different dressage coaches and got a lot of different techniques from each one. She's kind of molded it all together into what worked for her, and she tries to teach each of her students based on what they and their horses need.

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post #6 of 12 Old 08-11-2011, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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I honestly think that the teaching you get depends on the coach.
That's very true! I still think that in general there is a difference, but moreso in principles and not necessarily in how they train technically things, if that makes any sense...

Because I haven't been to Europe and seen the difference as a whole I can't exactly judge, but I just feel like there's a different look at training horses (and horses in general). It may be the cowboy aspect of America (even those trainers have some similar techniques, many don't), but it could also simply be the difference in theology in the countries in general.

And tiny, I have to agree. I've known so many instructors that can teach the very very basics, but when it comes to anything more than a simple w/t they tend to get more scattered with their teaching (example: teaching how to ask for the correct lead in two lessons and then moving on, never to talk about it for a year - i had that sort of instructor for a month, then i dropped them...). I'm betting there are instructors like that in Europe, I wouldn't know.

Does anyone on the forum know of European instructors that aren't necessarily organized or "good"?

(oh my goodness that was a bit of a scattered response! XD )
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-11-2011, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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oh, and my instructor says in Europe it's almost unheard of to giver a horse hock injections because they so rarely need them. as i only heard this from her, i don't know if this is true, nor do i know if it's due to training technique. i know a lot of high-level performance horses tend to need them (jumpers!!), but could a different style of training prevent the same level of performers in Europe to not need them?

it seems iffy to me, but i thought i'd put that little tidbit in...
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-11-2011, 02:52 PM
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In Europe, there is a long line of students waiting for any instructional slot that opens up. Here, we have almost unlimited opportunities to ride. That is just not the case in Europe.

As a result, the instructors don't have to pander as much to the whims of the students. They are easy to replace with someone more dedicated. The coach rules!

My first Dressage coach was European and he still lived by that credo. You would spend at least your first 5 months on the longe line with saddle and, maybe stirrups. You were not allowed near a set of reins until your leg and seat were ready. If you got bored and didn't like it....tough! You were replaceable. Only when you had an independent seat and effective legs were you allowed to progress.

Here, well......let's just say the the student isn't as easily kept under control. They get on the horse for the first time and they are asking when they get to jump.

Hunters don't really have an equivalent overseas. I'm sure Europeans scratch their heads why we would want to have such stiff backs, shallow seats and refuse to grow out of our crest release crutches. The fact that hunter riders do such a good job of presenting steady calm appearing horses ought to impress, though.
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-11-2011, 03:00 PM
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Hunters don't really have an equivalent overseas. I'm sure Europeans scratch their heads why we would want to have such stiff backs, shallow seats and refuse to grow out of our crest release crutches. The fact that hunter riders do such a good job of presenting steady calm appearing horses ought to impress, though.
This is very interesting! Are the height of jumps hunters compete at similar to show jumpers? If there is a difference, is their position a reason why?
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-11-2011, 03:13 PM
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This is very interesting! Are the height of jumps hunters compete at similar to show jumpers? If there is a difference, is their position a reason why?
The jumps in hunter courses are designed to be easily negotiated and the striding very "prescribed". Also, the jumps are much lower, as a rule. The riders equitation is not as important as ensuring that the horse looks good. The horse is judged...not the rider. The horse is judged on manner, pace, way of going and jump form.
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