Gotta share re Dressage Instructor - Page 13 - The Horse Forum

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post #121 of 142 Old 11-20-2013, 02:35 PM
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"Excavations of armor, saddles, and other horse fittings indicate the medieval warhorse was comparable in size to a modern riding horse. Though bred to be stronger than a modern riding horse, they were probably no larger than fourteen to fifteen hands high, with one hand being equal to four inches. The idea of a medieval warhorse standing eighteen hands tall (nearly six feet tall at the shoulders) is what authors Christopher Harper-Bill, Ruth E. Harvey, and Stephen Church call a “myth.” In their book Ideals and Practice of Medieval Knighthood,they contend a horse of this size would have been very rare. Illustrations and carvings from the medieval period depict the destrier as a large and powerful horse, but not nearly as massive as a draught horse."

"In several of her books, Ann Hyland remarks on the fitting of bardings (horse armor). She had the opportunity to try some extent examples on a variety of horses, from drafts to her 14.2 hand Arab mare. The armor fit best on her stocky mare (The Warhorse, pgs 9-10)..."

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post #122 of 142 Old 11-21-2013, 11:55 AM
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"At the end of the day USDF sets the rules for Dressage. To date they have not accepted any "modified" Dressage (Western, Gaited, etc.). Maybe someday this will change. Until then everybody gets to play by the official rules."


From the perspective of USDF, you are correct that trot is required for Dressage competition. However, from my perspective the USDF is not the be-all and end-all of Dressage. Gaited Dressage shown in competition does exist outside of the USDF. This is very exciting news for gaited horses!

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post #123 of 142 Old 11-21-2013, 01:03 PM
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Don't confuse the word 'draft' with height
The Breton and Brabant breeds were known for their value as war horses because of their ability to carry a lot of weight but ranged in height from 15.2.
In those days and right into later agricultural history the tall draft horses had no place because crops were grown on much smaller strips, it was only when field sizes grew that there was a use for the taller horse that could cover more ground in less time
The finer horse such as a quarter horse and even the lightweight hunter only exist due to introduction of TB blood which did not exist in those days. The more refined Iberian horses were a result of mixing oriental and Arabian bloodlines with the heavy cold blooded draft types but they were still a lot heavier than they typically are now
In Britain breeds like the old fashioned welsh cob and the Highland were used as draft horses - but are not 'tall'
Recent research done by actual scientists has proven that the armour was anything but easy to move in. The accurate replicas weighed between 60lb to 110lb which was heavier than originally it was believed to be
The armour worn in jousting tournaments was heavier that that

Why do some people still insist on confusing the meaning of dressage as 'training' of a type of riding that began in the Renaissance Period with the Dressage that is now the accepted name of the sport?
Why would anyone use the word "reining' instead of dressage - it wasn't recognized as a sport until 1949 - long after the word dressage had been in use
How many people here who compete in jumping use a totally different way to teach their horses to move forwards, increase and decrease speed, halt, turn and move away from the leg, collect, change leads, shorten a stride etc than the one taught to a basic low level dressage horse?
I'm extremely curious to know
The only 'dressage' people who I would describe as 'snooty' are the ones that like to think that the basic skills involved in dressage are solely and uniquely meant for them and no one else has the right to use them
For anyone who has never ridden a horse in a collected frame - how can you possibly give an opinion on something you have no experience of therefore no idea of if its useful or not?
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post #124 of 142 Old 11-21-2013, 01:39 PM
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bsms--My point was that they were much stockier, and heavier built. The average, 15 hand Quarter horse does NOT weigh 1200 lbs. My 16.1 H/J Paint weighs 1,100. Just saying.
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post #125 of 142 Old 11-21-2013, 02:09 PM
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"For anyone who has never ridden a horse in a collected frame - how can you possibly give an opinion on something you have no experience of therefore no idea of if its useful or not?"

I suspect ALL of us have ridden a horse with SOME collection. Very few have ridden a COLLECTED GAIT per the FEI.

However, it is pretty easy to notice that collection requires more work from a horse and results in it covering less ground in a given time. So if you prefer efficiency or speed, very modest levels of short duration collection are fine - and are easy to achieve.

When it is 100 deg and we're going down a rocky trail, a smooth, flat gait with minimal foot lift is better for my horse. I go jogging in those conditions regularly, and a smooth jog is more efficient that ballet would be. It is hot out, I'm wearing long sleeves and a scarf to protect myself from the sun, my horse has no shoes to protect her feet, the ground is as hard as pavement with various sized rocks on why would I want a collected gait? Yet this IS the goal of my riding:

Of course, having trained her to do a collected trot wouldn't be harmful, since she (and I) could choose not to use it - but what would I want to train her for something I don't use? Why would I adopt a position that allows me to use spurs if I don't use spurs? Why would I get her used to constant contact when it doesn't offer me anything in the riding I do?

And if this is 'low level' riding, so what? We're happy. A collected gait is about as useful for what I do as teaching her to jump a fence would be. In the desert, jumping things is a good way to die.

Further, the normal balance of a horse at a walk is roughly 57/43, not 50/50. That balance is what their bodies are 'designed' to do. Of course, that figure might differ if the horse was bred with dressage in mind...but an average horse is used to moving more on the front than back.

The same is true of 'on the bit'. The FEI says, "...A horse is said to be “on the bit” when the neck is more or less raised and arched according to the stage of training and the extension or collection of the pace, accepting the bridle [emphasis added] with a light soft contact and submissiveness throughout. The head should remain in a steady position, as a rule slightly in front of the vertical, with a supple poll as the highest point of the neck, and no resistance should be offered to the rider.

So if someone doesn't WANT the horse's head in a largely vertical position, free to move about at the horse's choice, then the person does not want a horse 'on the bit' per the FEI. And given that the position of the horse's head impacts where it can focus it vision best, it is reasonable for a rider to reject putting a horse 'on the bit' - depending on the goal of their riding.

The principles of dressage are in no way "wrong". But neither are they the universal definition of proper riding and motion. They are a refinement of riding, emphasizing certain aspects that the rider wants over others that the rider does not want. It is an admirable pursuit, as is jumping, polo, barrel racing and reining, but not THE pursuit that measures all others.

"The average, 15 hand Quarter horse does NOT weigh 1200 lbs."

If one wants to create a mental picture of a somewhat short, stocky horse, what breed comes to mind? I regularly see ads for QH claiming a weight of 1200 lbs. This one is supposed to be 15.1 & 1200 lbs:

"Lithuanian Heavy Draught" may be more accurate, but it doesn't really create a mental picture for most of us. And honestly, the picture I showed of actual armor plate on a stuffed horse doesn't show a very stocky horse, either:

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post #126 of 142 Old 11-21-2013, 03:56 PM
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You're getting far too hung up on the notion of the "collected gait." I don't want nor care if my horse moves in a "collected" gait on the trail, or roads, as is usually the case. I want her to move forward or sideways promptly off leg and seat aids and soften to the hand and slow down in response to hand and seat. At least in our case, I have trained her to do all that stuff in the arena so those tools are available and they are bloody useful on the trail. You can call it dressage or schooling or whatever you like. If she is getting distracted and "looky" on a hack (as she did today due to scary shetland ponies galloping about in nearby field), I ask her to go into a dressage outline and do something else other than try to spook, like leg yield or shoulder in. Keeps us out of trouble, especially on roads where you just can't have a horse pratting about. Probably not a problem you have in AZ. If the horse isn't being an idiot, she gets a loose rein.

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post #127 of 142 Old 11-21-2013, 06:27 PM
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ANY rider wants a horse that listens and responds. But you can and do have that with cutting horses and jumpers or reiners, who are not using the teachings of dressage to achieve that goal. FWIW, when someone with a stock trailer doing 60 mph down the road goes by, it doesn't matter if you are in Arizona or Scotland - you need your horse to stay obedient. Mia actually handles that pretty well, ridden with one hand in a western curb with a forward seat while choosing her own head position and slack in the reins.

The principles of dressage are oriented to achieving collected gaits, not just momentary collection or obedience. That is what makes it dressage. If someone defines dressage as "Anything that results in a nice horse to ride", then barrel racing instructors can start marketing themselves as dressage instructors too! But most people, if they buy a book on dressage, will not be happy if it is filled with pictures of horses sprinting around barrels...
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post #128 of 142 Old 11-21-2013, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
And if this is 'low level' riding, so what? We're happy.
If you are happy with the way you ride, which works for your purposes in the desert, then why do you consistently derail dressage threads for the people that are interested in dressage?
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post #129 of 142 Old 11-21-2013, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by updownrider View Post
If you are happy with the way you ride, which works for your purposes in the desert, then why do you consistently derail dressage threads for the people that are interested in dressage?
Because he's correct in his thinking?
And has more time than me to hash out such detailed responses - thank you for that BSMS. Leaves me more time for training horses and riders :)
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post #130 of 142 Old 11-21-2013, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by updownrider View Post
If you are happy with the way you ride, which works for your purposes in the desert, then why do you consistently derail dressage threads for the people that are interested in dressage?
For one thing, I don't post on any threads in the dressage subsection. Outside of that subforum, almost all my post on dressage involve rejecting the idea that dressage defines good riding.

If someone is interested in dressage, I encourage them to take lessons and enjoy it. I believe it is a perfectly valid approach to riding that can provide a lifetime of learning for those who enjoy it. I merely reject those who tell me a shoulder-hip-heel vertical line is "proper", or that English bits are "proper", or that speed or endurance work unbalances the horse or shortens its riding life, that I need to have a horse on the bit to control the horse, etc.

A professional guitar player told me once that the guitar was a very simple instrument to learn to play adequately, although you could study your entire life and never master it. OTOH, he said learning to play a violin adequately was darn hard. I think western riding is the guitar of the riding world, and dressage is the violin. Almost anyone can do OK riding western with just a few lessons, although a person could spend a lifetime doing it and never master it completely. Dressage is just a harder style of riding to learn. Developing soft, following and supportive hands takes a lot longer than using the slack in the reins to damper any errors in your hand.

Absorbing the motion of the horse like this:

Is harder than it is to do it like this:

That does not make dressage 'wrong', but it may make it a poor match for a beginner or for someone who rides a couple of hours a week. "Riding and Schooling Horses" by Harry Chamberlin was written about a forward seat, but his chapter on the use of reins has me thinking that dressage may well require a sensitivity to the horse's mind that few recreational riders have. After 5+ years of regular riding, I think my seat is good enough and my hands steady enough, but that I lack the ability to read and respond to a horse well enough to have any business putting a horse 'on the bit'.

To be a decent dressage rider, I think you need a level of horsemanship - not just riding, but horsemanship - that few recreational riders have. The more I ride, the more I respect the talents of a good dressage rider, and the more I become aware that I might never have enough ability to be a decent one even if I took a lot of lessons in it.

That is OK by me. Both forward riding and western riding have enough to keep me in learner mode past my final ride. But marketing dressage as good for beginners is like when I bought Mia because she was 'perfect for a beginner'! Mia is a sweetheart, but she needed and needs more from a rider than any beginner can give. Like Mia, dressage strikes me as something where you need have a lot of 'wet blankets' in your past before you start...and that describes an upper story, not a foundation.

"There goes Earl!"
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