Multiple Disciplines - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-28-2013, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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Multiple Disciplines

Hey everyone, I just wanted to see y'all's opinion on this statement,

"You need to stick to one discipline to be any good at it."

I disagree with it, because some of the best riders I know have done multiple disciplines and do well in both of them. For example, I have a friend who is a beautiful equitation rider and also shows dressage/does really awesome at both of them. I have another friend who used to go to Morgan Nationals like every year for about three or four years, constantly placed well, and places extremely well in equitation.

I have a horse that is trained in western pleasure that I've been jumping, and I think her wp training has benefited her in jumping because she can shorten her strides when I ask for it. I know any well trained horse should be able to do that, but I ride a lot of lesson horses who can't nearly shorten their strides like she can.
I think if the disciplines are somewhat similar it can really help a horse and the rider to better understand. However, I know someone who did hunt seat equitation and tried to saddle seat(on different horses) and she got really confused by it.

I'm just asking because I asked my riding instructor about taking dressage lessons off of someone else that she knows. My riding instructor doesn't give dressage lessons so I figured it wouldn't like, offend her or anything? She was like, "You just need to stick to one discipline."
It didn't make any sense to me because in a sense, all horses have or should have a level of dressage training. Another thing is, big equitation shows only exist really for riders under eighteen, and I thought that most people either switched to hunters, jumpers, dressage/eventing?
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post #2 of 16 Old 08-29-2013, 12:39 AM
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I'd like to change that to

"You need to stick to learning the basics one way and then you can branch off into any discipline and succeed"

Because really it all comes down to the basics. What is the cue to make a horse move forward? To trot? To canter? To slow down? To yield X,Y,Z?

Once you have that communication established, it's all about choosing what you want to specialize those basics in, and go from there.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #3 of 16 Old 08-29-2013, 12:59 AM
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It is so irrating whenever I get the talk that I can't do this and that. My horse was trained for equitation and pleasure showing, and when I started hunter jumper the coach said "you HAVE to quit the other stuff". Now I am training for eventing, and I do speed for fun on occasion.. I constantly get the "you can't do that"! Ugh.
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-29-2013, 07:17 AM
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To jump, one has to train dressage. Horses need variety, ok, a horse might not be build to jump grand prix level and run grand prix dressage, as those require different things from conformation, but all english disciplines first require dressage to a certain level. A horse needs to be responding, collected, easy to control, and rider stable in the saddle in all gaits, leg yields, etc. only then when the pair is flexible and a team they can think about jumping, eventing or anything else.. cannot say much about western, as we don't ride in western style here, but english comes down to dressage.. many hobby riders forget that too, they just learn how to hold on and start jumping. In many competitions even up to 1 m jumps they have no idea how to balance a horse and turn it nicely, however... even a cow can jump 1 meter... so that's how they still score well... if we had competitions scored on style not speed, it would be completely different result in the score board...

Style of riding is very important, and its always a pleasure to watch a rider that sits light but confident, leads the horse well and they work as a wonderful team, instead of a rider who just pushes the horse forwards, sits unbalanced, lands heavy after jumps and pulls a lot on the reign...
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post #5 of 16 Old 08-31-2013, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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I agree with all of you cx. I have a tb who gets really bored if we do the same thing throughout the whole time I'm riding, and other horses won't. It depends on the horse. Obviously, it's highly unlikely that a world champion western pleasure horse could also go to the olympics and gold in show jumping.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like every time I've branched out into a different discipline I feel like my riding has improved because of it.

I wish things were done differently in the US, being that most of us equitation riders start in our close contact saddles, but I wish we were all taught basics of dressage first. I think it would really improve the skillset of riders. Also, in dressage and jumping, collection is a must. A horse can't jump well if it just uses it's front end. I don't understand why my coach wouldn't encourage me going to a dressage trainer, since I've had problems with getting my tb to collect and she hasn't really helped much with that aspect.

Also, my instructor says that the people who win at Maclay's take dressage lessons in addition to their equitation ones, and that usually the horses being shown at Maclay's are horses that weren't fit for the higher level dressage.

I think if you show different disciplines on different horses, you could probably do great in all of them if you're determined enough to. Showing different disciplines on the same horse just depends on the horse. My horse knows the difference in pace for jumping a course vs showing western.
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post #6 of 16 Old 08-31-2013, 07:29 AM
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Cross training is good for them :)

My eventing prospect isn't old enough yet to jump, so she's my dressage horse and show hack in the mean time, and she's a pleasure hack as well. I've galloped her [short gallops only as she's only just turned 3] and I take every opportunity I get to throw challenges and questions at her.

My old boy, semi-retired now, has done a bit of everything. I'm almost certain he's done cattle work, and I've even trained him to do a little bit of Western Pleasure! He's an eventing horse, loves his jumping and his flatwork is decent, but he's very much an allrounder as well.

Edit; and it's good for riders too - everything my horses have done, I have done [except cattle work] and I find that the more different things I'm doing with my horses, the better my riding is.

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post #7 of 16 Old 08-31-2013, 08:17 AM
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Cross training is so important for horse and rider. Jumping, chasing cows, trail riding, cross country - and for the rider running, cycling, swimming, lifting weights, plyo!

Variety is what keeps horses fresh and strong.
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post #8 of 16 Old 08-31-2013, 09:02 AM
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I'm with others on this one variety is good and important. My instructor made sure that I could ride western, english, and drive because in her mind they all connected to each other. Yes even dressage and western riding, haha I get a lot of odd looks and comments when I take our dressage horse in training out in a western saddle. But I think that variety gives you a better seat, and gives you more confidence in your overall riding. It also gives horses a mental break and let's them have fun. My boss (who's my instructor) always trains the horses who come to her for the discipline that they want and love to do. She's had horses come in for saddle seat training that ended up being trained first in hunter/jumper or some other variant. The horses come to appreciate the variation and learn to cope with anything people can throw at them. It's a secret pet peeve of mine when people gripe that someone isn't a good rider because they're a jack of all trades or something thereupon. I've known many good riders who do a little bit of everything.
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post #9 of 16 Old 09-01-2013, 11:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShelbyNicolay View Post
Hey everyone, I just wanted to see y'all's opinion on this statement,

"You need to stick to one discipline to be any good at it."

I disagree with it, because some of the best riders I know have done multiple disciplines and do well in both of them. For example, I have a friend who is a beautiful equitation rider and also shows dressage/does really awesome at both of them. I have another friend who used to go to Morgan Nationals like every year for about three or four years, constantly placed well, and places extremely well in equitation.

I have a horse that is trained in western pleasure that I've been jumping, and I think her wp training has benefited her in jumping because she can shorten her strides when I ask for it. I know any well trained horse should be able to do that, but I ride a lot of lesson horses who can't nearly shorten their strides like she can.
I think if the disciplines are somewhat similar it can really help a horse and the rider to better understand. However, I know someone who did hunt seat equitation and tried to saddle seat(on different horses) and she got really confused by it.

I'm just asking because I asked my riding instructor about taking dressage lessons off of someone else that she knows. My riding instructor doesn't give dressage lessons so I figured it wouldn't like, offend her or anything? She was like, "You just need to stick to one discipline."
It didn't make any sense to me because in a sense, all horses have or should have a level of dressage training. Another thing is, big equitation shows only exist really for riders under eighteen, and I thought that most people either switched to hunters, jumpers, dressage/eventing?
I thing the needing to stick to one discipline thing is a common thing said amongst most trainers. Most people have big goals and dreams and USUALLY you will want to focus all your energy on that goal(which means you will likely stick to the one discipline). There is so much to know to each specific discipline, that most people will focus on the one sport most of their riding career.
I agree with you that I think horses are more well rounded if they have the chance to do multiple things, but that's not for everyone or every horse.
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post #10 of 16 Old 09-01-2013, 11:43 PM
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Yes and no... Take my opinion for what it's worth...
Cross training is fabulous and amazing and I am absolutely all for it. But you can't expect, at the top levels, to be the best at everything. You won't find an A level hunter with flat movement and a big jump even excel at the top EQ medals, as those horses need to jump smooth and have all over a different job. That A level hunter won't be a competitive GP dressage horse.
At the lower levels? Absolutely. Go do everything. You'll be a better rider for it.
Now, again, I want to stress how important I think cross training is - absolutely. But I hope I was clear as well? Ish??
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