Actually Stella, a lot of grand prix horses are not using themselves correctly. Modern dressage has strayed a long way from the ideals of yesteryear. Of course there are those of us who take the time and do it all correctly (your pony wouldn't work the way she does if YOU hadn't done it right), but so many, many grand prix horses are not working correctly with their hocks and hindquarters properly engaged. A lot of them have a four-beat trot and canter. And a lot of them are very stressed.
Did you know a study was done on horses and stereotypic behaviours like vices? And the study was looking at which discipline had the highest number of horses with a particular vice? I think the one they were looking at in particular was cribbing or windsucking. And they found that a very high percentage of upper-level dressage horses display behaviours related to the vices. A horse that windsucks either has ulcers, is incredibly bored, or is stressed.
I'm not saying dressage is bad. It's not, it's GOOD when it's done right. Unfortunately the art of good dressage seems to be less and less common, and seems to be getting less and less competitive against the flashy front-leg-movers that look so impressive but aren't doing much with their back ends.
Just look at the piaffe. The vast majority of grand prix dressage horses do not perform it in the correct manner, sitting back on their hocks and with good cadence and rhythm. Collection is where the training issues really come out. Any horse can trot on the spot (Mum had a downhill QH that could), but it takes real correct training to get a true piaffe.
But this thread is not the place for a debate about the whys and wherefores of the top levels of dressage, and as a rider, I'm not qualified to really comment, as I do not enjoy riding dressage. I do watch a lot of it, so as a spectator and a critic, I can speak of uncomfortable-looking horses that are not performing the movements correctly, but as a rider, I can't say I could do any better.
I would start a thread, but it's late, and I'm not the most qualified person in this thread to start such a discussion.
Last edited by blue eyed pony; 04-07-2012 at 02:19 PM.