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Western Dressage - Thoughts ?

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    11-25-2012, 11:33 AM
I like the term "gathering"...that's way more precise for what is actually asked of the horse.
As for western horses not needing dressage and collection....you really think a cutting horse could cut, be light in front to follow that cow WITHOUT having his hind under himself?
Do you really think a reiner could slide and roll back and speed control circles WITHOUT having his hind end under himself?
Try to get a roping horse out if the box fast without that hind end pushing hard
Make a barrel horse turn fast without that hindend under himself
See my point?
Another thing is, with dressage basics the rider gets total control over the horses movements, and that can be life saving when encountering a tricky situation out on trail.
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    11-25-2012, 12:15 PM
Originally Posted by deserthorsewoman    
...As for western horses not needing dressage and collection....you really think a cutting horse could cut, be light in front to follow that cow WITHOUT having his hind under himself?
Do you really think a reiner could slide and roll back and speed control circles WITHOUT having his hind end under himself?...
See my point?...
Nope. Not at all. Why does a horse need "dressage training" to learn to bring his hind end under him as he prepares for a turn or to cut cattle?

He doesn't. When I was working with my gelding to improve his turns, I got advice from some barrel racers. That advice worked. I also later found that advice in a dressage book. Great. But that advice was no more 'training for dressage' than it was 'training for barrel racing'.

And again, the type of collection that the SYSTEM of dressage trains to is the collected GAIT. Reiners don't do collected gaits. They define collection differently than the FEI. Barrel racers don't do collected gaits. When they say they collect a horse, they are referring to something different than dressage.

Dressage is not the Queen of Riding. It doesn't own all good training. It is entirely possible for someone who has never seen a warmblood to train a horse to carry himself on his hind end long enough to make a fast turn and power his way out of the turn. It has been done by millions of western riders.. Heck, I've done it, and I've never seen a live dressage event.

And just because a horse can do a full collected gait, per dressage, there is no guarantee it could do many of the reining maneuvers. It would first need reining training, and it might well be a horse with marginal conformation to do reining, just as my 15.3 hand, 900 lb Arabian mare with her long legs would be.

So no. Western horses do NOT need dressage. They need training for what they do, and there will be some overlap with the techniques used by dressage - but dressage doesn't OWN that training. THAT thinking is the true dressage snobbery.
    11-25-2012, 01:01 PM
Super Moderator
Bsms - you might be contradicting yourself without even knowing it because what you're actually saying is that the basics of european dressage are present in most other types of riding. The levels that they work at when they reach the top are way different to the sort of dressage a young pony club child will do - but the basics are still there even if they never progress further they will be of value
A lot of reiners do have dressage lessons to improve themselves and their horses. Eitan Beth-Halachmy who has pioneered the cowboy dressage did so as a step sideways from his reining which he was a champion in
Not all western horses do only barrel racing type things either - arabians/part arabians & Morgan horses all do rail classes in western pleasure but with a higher head set than typical of WP - a lot of them are taking up WD as its something more than just following another horse around a ring and opens up a new show option for them
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    11-25-2012, 01:03 PM
BSMS^^^^Reiners don't do collected gaits????? Please explain! Every forward movement a horse makes is a 'gait' and reiners have to be highly collected....
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    11-25-2012, 01:26 PM
This is a sign that few people actually understand dressage in it's truest sense. Dressage is NOT ONLY riding a big huge warmblood around a 20x60m arena with letters as points of reference.
Dressage evolved through the needs for a battle horse, which, with fancy movements, could get his rider out of precarious situations. For getting a horse to do that, it had do gather itself to be able to work if it's much more powerful hind end. So certain exercises were created to help the horse. Keeping in mind that horses way back then were smaller, shorter and much more upright, it wasn't too hard to train a horse.
Nowadays, the breeds who are actually best suited for that dressage, are far from being considered dressage horses. And the ones who are now, require much more intense work to be able to perform. So new rules and standards had to be brought out to help working these horses to achieve the movements and collection.
In other parts of the world dressage in the classical sense survived with working horses, mainly with cattle, because for this job a very handy horse is needed. One who works off his hind end to be quick and strong. So, the training principles of the classical dressage, tho modified through different tack, remained.
So, the working cowhorse or the traditional bridle horse is actually a dressage horse, the bridle horse actually the equivalent of a grand prix special horse.

.....I know im going to catch h*** for that last sentence at least............
    11-25-2012, 01:30 PM
Super Moderator
I'm not a massive fan of Clinton but his horse Mindy (who is a quarter horse) is trained for reining and if you skip throught the start of this video to where he's riding I don't see how anyone could deny that he's using dressage techniques to get the results - I'm sure he wouldn't deny it either
People need to stop thinking of dressage as some snooty sport that only belongs to one elite group of people and remember that its the oldest form of modern day riding that we have and pretty much everything else has branched off and evolved from it in its own way to suit the needs of the rider
    11-25-2012, 01:31 PM
Oh my left arm for a bridle horse!!
deserthorsewoman likes this.
    11-25-2012, 01:33 PM
First, I'm not saying the basics of European dressage are present in other disciplines, any more than I'm saying the basics of barrel racing are present in European dressage, so all dressage riders & horses need to study barrel racing. It is only the dressage queens who believe that dressage is all controlling, and anyone who does anything in common with dressage is benefiting from dressage.

Someone using stirrups is not dressage. Someone teaching a horse basic balance with a rider is not dressage. Dressage does those things in common with other disciplines, but that common core is not "dressage", because dressage is not the 'good riding' that all other disciplines are perversions of...

And MG, reiners do not do collected gaits. As I thought I made excruciatingly clear, reiners use the word "collection" differently than dressage riders do. Dressage trains to collected gaits, and that FEI definition is NOT what reiners do or desire.

That is part of the reason reiners and dressage riders ride differently. And that is why I specified 'collected GAITS', because a collected gait is different than moving forward with some degree of 'collection'. Definitions are important if one doesn't want confusion.

When I try to teach my mare Mia to canter 'with collection', my goal is very different from a dressage rider who uses those same words. And I do not need the system of dressage, or to spend years training my horse in dressage, to teach her to canter with an acceptable level of collection for our purposes. But I would need her to train in dressage to teach her a collected canter gait. Collected canter, as a gait, has had a definition accepted by the horse world for over 100 years. I want to teach Mia to canter with collection, but I do not want to teach her the collected canter gait:
"4. The following canters are recognized: working canter, collected canter, medium canter
And extended canter.

4.1 Collected Canter. The horse remaining on the bit moves forward with his neck raised
And arched. The collected canter is marked by the lightness of the forehand and the
Engagement of the hindquarters: I.e., is characterized by supple, free and mobile shoulders
And very active quarters. The horse’s strides are shorter than at the other canters but he is
Lighter and more mobile.

4.2 Working Canter. This is a pace between the collected and the medium canter in which a
Horse, not yet trained and ready for collected movements, shows himself properly balanced
And remaining on the bit, goes forward with even, light and cadenced strides and good hock
Action. The expression “good hock action” does not mean that collection is a required
Quality of the working canter. It only underlines the importance of an impulsion originated
From the activity of the hindquarters.

4.3 Medium Canter. This is a pace between the working and the extended canter. The horse
Goes forward with free, balanced and moderately extended strides and an obvious
Impulsion from the hindquarters. The rider allows the horse remaining on the bit to carry his
Head a little more in front of the vertical than at the collected and working canter and allows
Him at the same time to lower his head and neck slightly. The strides should be long and as
Even as possible and the whole movement balanced and unconstrained.

4.4 Extended Canter. The horse covers as much ground as possible. Maintaining the same
Rhythm he lengthens his strides to the utmost without losing any of his calmness and
Lightness as a result of great impulsion from the hindquarters. The rider allows the horse
Remaining on the bit without leaning on it to lower and extend his head and neck; the tip of
His nose pointing more or less forward."

I want Mia to move at an extended canter, which is not a strung out canter. I have no desire for her to move at a canter with her head vertical, and I honestly don't want her 'on the bit'. And that is right for my riding, but it is not the collected canter gait.
    11-25-2012, 01:42 PM
So you're basically saying it is okay for a horse to carry a rider in a faster gait, having close to 70% of his own weight already on his much lighter built forehand, instead if working the horse to shift it's weight to the much stronger hind end and be able to cope much better with the added weight of a rider........NOT saying you could ride collected canter only, saying that the basic collection work is not needed for your style of riding.
    11-25-2012, 01:50 PM
Yes, reiners do perform collected gaits. Whatever the FEI standards are, they are for judging purposes for Dressage classes, and many a reining horse would meet or exceed those standards....
deserthorsewoman likes this.

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