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Western Dressage - Thoughts ?

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        11-23-2012, 11:17 AM
      #51
    Trained
    There are many contradictions in the arguments against WD.

    The back can't be free in a western saddle but Buck and Richard Caldwell's horses move with free swinging backs. There's a lovely video of Richard doing an extended trot working cattle and I can find lots of ranch horses in a long trot that is free and swinging.
    The goal of dressage is much higher than moving freely, although moving freely would certainly be desirable. When my horses trot, I want them in a relaxed, free movement. But I do not want them to do a collected gait, so I don't train them for that.

    I would never say that a western saddle prevents a relaxed, easy trot. But ultimately, as more power needs to flow thru the back, the longer tree of the western saddle will become a hindrance. I first noticed this when I learned to canter on Trooper, our very short backed Appy/Arab. It was VERY bouncy. Well, part of that was because I was cantering for the first time. But the 26.5" long Circly Y Arabian saddle - which should have the shortest bars in a western saddle - did me no favors. When I switched to my 22" long Aussie-style saddle, things got much smoother. Same horse, same rider, same inexperience in both - but the shorter saddle didn't 'buck' the way the longer western saddle did.

    On a horse with a longer back, that might not be true. But it got me to thinking about the motion of a horse's back. It seems reasonable to me that the more powerful the motion, either because of speed or because of changing balance for a collected gait, the more a long & hard saddle will move and the more it will interfere with the horse.

    I do not KNOW this. It is my guess based on how the different saddles I use daily feel under me when I ride. I have also noticed my horses will canter longer by choice when I use the Aussie saddle instead of the western, although I don't know if that is because I use a forward seat with the Aussie saddle, and cannot do that very well with my Circle Y.
    The saddle doesn't allow fine cues with the seat - but reiners and bridle horses work entirely off the seat.
    I'm not a reiner, but it is certainly possible to design a western saddle that allows easy cuing. I would be curious on how this works out with leg position. One of my unproven theories is that the shoulder-hip-heel vertical line used in dressage is important in part because of the need in dressage to give more frequent and more detailed leg cues than most western riders need.

    I know some western saddles - mine, for example - place the lower leg further away from the horse than is true with my English saddles or Australian saddle. And playing around with it, it seems the foot forward position typical in much of western riding is easier in terms of balance but that it would be harder in terms of cuing. Again, I don't ride at a high enough level to know. Watching videos of dressage riders, it seems their feet are more active than most western riders.
    A horse worked above 2nd level collection can't handle extensions and rough terrain - but one of the top endurance horses was known to be working 3rd level. He was top year after year and his rider attributed it to the gymnastic work done in dressage.
    I can't think of any reason why someone would believe a dressage horse couldn't handle riding in rough terrain. Dressage training is not designed for riding in rough terrain, and there could be saddles and riding styles better suited for riding in rough terrain, but the exercise involved in dressage ought to make a stronger and fitter horse, to a point. Above some point, the work done in dressage would not be NEEDED for riding a horse in rough terrain, but I can't see how it would be HARMFUL.
    A dressage horse is rider dependent - but see above,and my own experience is that my upper level dressage horses were also the most confident and wonderful at picking up new games, be it cross country, trail or playing with cows. Good balance makes horses confident.
    The style of riding used in dressage is very rider-directed. I gather that is true in reining as well. Most western riding seems to emphasize having the horse make more decisions. But horses are adaptable, and could easily be trained to wait for cues in an arena, but pick their own way on a trail. I don't know from personal experience, but I've heard that reining horses can also make good cow horses, if they have the breeding and training to do that as well.

    Western dressage is trying to mix different goals at the same time. Eventers do both jumping and dressage, but they use the tack and riding style that matches what they are doing at the moment. They don't jump using a dressage saddle & seat, not do they use a jump saddle and forward seat during the dressage test.

    Dressage is a SYSTEM of training to reach a certain end goal. It seems to me that "western dressage" wants to mimic the end goal without doing all the training first. And like any specialized horse sport, dressage has tack and a riding style that ultimately supports its end goal.

    Suppose I wanted to take lessons with Mia in dressage. I think it would be reasonable for our early lessons to be done in an Australian saddle, or even a western one - WITH the understanding that eventually I would either need different tack, or I would not progress. I would expect the instructor to immediately jump on my riding position, and tell me to get my heels under my hip and to stop leaning forward. It would be reasonable for her to tape tacks onto my poleys, so I couldn't lean forward without paying a price. I would expect her to teach Mia & I about riding 'on the bit' or 'on the aids'. I could imagine her shouting "Use TWO hands, blast it! And get the slack out of your reins!"

    Western riding is not dressage riding, and my *******ized approach is neither western nor dressage. So I would expect her to teach me the DRESSAGE way, rather than saying, "If you like riding with one hand on the reins, go for it!"

    Sorry for the long reply. These discussions make me think about how I do my daily riding as well, so I find them pretty interesting.
    Kayty and EvilHorseOfDoom like this.
         
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        11-23-2012, 11:58 AM
      #52
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jaydee    
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYvGckXLQfk
    This child scored 65% in her pony club dressage test (please no comments) and her performance no way resembles someone working at FEI levels - but still called dressage and still giving someone pleasure and encouraging them to do something with their horses
    That little kid IS demonstrating the basic concepts of dressage. Plus she rode the test well. She deserved a 65%. She's starting to get the very basics of dressage. The horse is accepting contact with the bit even though it's nose is above vertical. It doesn't resist contact, or avoid it. In the free walk it reaches for the contact. The pony is well balanced and very capable of doing all the movements asked in a fairly well balanced way. It has good clear gaits, is moving forward with energy, and is active off the riders legs. It hind legs step into the print of its front hoof (tracks up). And that little kid is in balance with her horse, uses her aids effectively, and looks like a very competent rider for the level she is at.

    That kid is demonstrating dressage....


    A WD example: I expect a heck of a lot more from a full grown adult that's claiming to specialize in WD. (I'm not finding examples of kids doing WD. I wanted to compare apples to apples, but am not finding video's very well today.)

    Horse's hind feet are far short of where the front hoof left the ground. It never tracks up. Closed throat latch, falls in quite a lot the canter in both directions, rider has inconsistent contact with horses mouth (bumbing the horses mouth), rider using excessive rein aids to get downward transition (not seat), rider has romel spurs on. Rider is not using seat aids effectively. Horse looks relaxed and attentive though. It wasn't a terrible ride, but I would've placed the kid a lot higher than the WD guy. And the guy's website say's he's a western dressage TRAINER.

    Quote:
    I've seem plenty of high placed dressage horse that looked painfully stiff and restrained so I can't see that as a good comparision for critique
    If Cowboy dressage or western dressage really offends you so much then maybe just keep away from it - as long as cruelty isnt involved and people are enjoying doing it then why worry? You enjoy what you do so allow these people the same priviledge
    Why would you compare the worst of our sport to the best of your sport? Is that what WD is aiming for? Again, why is WD attempting to copy the worst of our sport? The biggest complaints I hear about dressage are the excessive rein contact. So then WD goes and allows two hands on a curb bit with TIGHT REINS. Way to pick the worst of what we've got and really make it their own.

    I can't ignore WD, or "just stay away from it". The WD associations are pushing hard to allow WD at all dressage shows. If we don't let them show at dressage shows, we're closed minded, snobby, pricks.
         
        11-23-2012, 12:33 PM
      #53
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by core    
    we're closed minded, snobby, pricks.

    You certainly won't get any disagreement from me, on this.

    The spurs are rowels, not romels. Romels are reins, he's not using those either.
    franknbeans likes this.
         
        11-23-2012, 12:55 PM
      #54
    Trained
    And just for the record, rowels are a lot easier on the horse than the traditional English, pointed spur. The more points, the easier. The rowel rolls, not pokes.....
         
        11-23-2012, 01:33 PM
      #55
    Super Moderator
    [QUOTE=core;1769223]That little kid IS demonstrating the basic concepts of dressage. Plus she rode the test well. She deserved a 65%. She's starting to get the very basics of dressage. The horse is accepting contact with the bit even though it's nose is above vertical. It doesn't resist contact, or avoid it. In the free walk it reaches for the contact. The pony is well balanced and very capable of doing all the movements asked in a fairly well balanced way. It has good clear gaits, is moving forward with energy, and is active off the riders legs. It hind legs step into the print of its front hoof (tracks up). And that little kid is in balance with her horse, uses her aids effectively, and looks like a very competent rider for the level she is at.

    That kid is demonstrating dressage....

    Why would you compare the worst of our sport to the best of your sport? Is that what WD is aiming for? Again, why is WD attempting to copy the worst of our sport? The biggest complaints I hear about dressage are the excessive rein contact. So then WD goes and allows two hands on a curb bit with TIGHT REINS. Way to pick the worst of what we've got and really make it their own.

    I can't ignore WD, or "just stay away from it". The WD associations are pushing hard to allow WD at all dressage shows. If we don't let them show at dressage shows, we're closed minded, snobby, pricks.[/QUOTE]
    I think if you bothered to actually read what I posted - I wasnt criticising the child at all - just trying to point out that at different levels the performance of the horse and rider can be very different but its still called dressage
    Eoropean dressage has been around for years and if you research its history you'll find that its changed a lot over time as its evolved and grown which is exactly what will happen to WD/CD as it finds its footing and standards.
    If you also bothered to read my other posts you would see that I am NOT even a western rider so I can hardly claim WD to be my sport. I am british and only lived for 5 years in the US.
    I'm sorry to say this but you are behaving like a snobby prick - and a very selfish one at that.
    Maybe encouraging western riders to do something different with their horses that would struggle to find a place in adult conventional dressage arenas would be better for the horseworld all around than trying to squash any enthusiasm other people do have just because it somehow doesnt fit in with your high minded ideals
         
        11-23-2012, 01:37 PM
      #56
    Foal
    Actually the goal of WD is to teach and encourage going through a progressive training program first to reach the goal of a responsive supple horse capable of using the full range of it's body, not trying to copy a picture. As for trainers, announcing on YouTube that you're a WD trainer doesn't make you one. I list myself as one. What makes me one is 30 years teaching and training dressage and using the system successfully to improve a variety of types of horses plus acceptance by the WDAA as such. There are no YouTube videos of me and none yet of my students. I would count someone like Lisa Gerdon as one. Again, a lifetime of dressage work plus being married to a cutting horse trainer. She rode her cutting horse with Gerd Heuschmann this year. 2 western dressage trainers have been accepted into the Phillipe Karl courses coming up next year. I think they will be teaching a correct progression if they aren't already.

    You might want to rethink collection for your trail horse. We use hills to teach passage and collection for a reason. Many a horse becomes much much safer in trappy country when they can reliably collect in the ring. No more charging down hills out of balance. Being able to collect doesn't mean always ridden in collection.
         
        11-23-2012, 01:50 PM
      #57
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians    
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by core
    we're closed minded, snobby, pricks.

    You certainly won't get any disagreement from me, on this.
    Thanks for calling me a closed minded, snobby prick, DA. That was really rude.

    ..................


    I'm creating a subset of reining today. It's called English Reining. It will not follow the same rules as reiners do, nor will we use the same definitions and terminology, and we're not going to use the same tack, or be judged by the same criteria. But we are Reiners and we will show at your shows and earn the same type of scores you do, but using a different criteria set. And gosh darn it, if you don't like it, then you're a snobbish pricks.
    Tigo likes this.
         
        11-23-2012, 02:06 PM
      #58
    Super Moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by core    
    Thanks for calling me a closed minded, snobby prick, DA. That was really rude.

    ..................


    I'm creating a subset of reining today. It's called English Reining. It will not follow the same rules as reiners do, nor will we use the same definitions and terminology, and we're not going to use the same tack, or be judged by the same criteria. But we are Reiners and we will show at your shows and earn the same type of scores you do, but using a different criteria set. And gosh darn it, if you don't like it, then you're a snobbish pricks.
    You know from what I've so far experienced of western riders since we moved here I would say they would welcome you with open arms. When I enquired about some western dressage lessons on a horse I have that can do really nicely at that sort of thing but would never stand a chance in conventional dressage as she doesnt have the length of stride and elevation of the warmbloods that domineer it I was never made to feel inferior because I've never even sat on a western saddle - well other than in a store.
    Its a real shame that the way some dressage people do get all superior is having a negative effect on the general all round appeal of the sport - it never used to be like that when I was growing up in England.
    When I was looking into boarding my new horse on a local dressage yard so I could use the facilities they originally said a very firm "no" when they though I meant my Irish Draft mare who actually can do an OK low level test but when they realised I meant the new Warmblood I'd bought they called back and suddenly had a stall available (I know for a fact from someone who shoes there that they had 4 empty stalls when I first enquired) - I politely declined the offer
    You might not be a snobby prick but sadly many dressage people are giving that impression
         
        11-23-2012, 02:07 PM
      #59
    Foal
    BTW, Monty Foreman introduced a "Balanced Ride" saddle back in the 70s that allows the leg to hang in the correct position. Barrel saddles tend to be both light weight and have the stirrup hung further back. There are many many western saddles out there right now that are "cut out" and "balanced" for reasons of competition that were built before the term WD became official. Funny that Barrel Racing, Cutting, Roping and Equitation can have their own specially built western saddle but having one for WD is horrible. I happen to agree that the Circle Y is ridiculous - give me an old Balanced Ride any day.
         
        11-23-2012, 02:28 PM
      #60
    Weanling
    To me, WD is more of a "different thing" to do than a serious competition. It's surprising that going from letter to letter in a prescribed way can be a challenge if you've never done it.

    This pair is one of the best of local cow sorters. They mostly got marked down for tension; but I admit, the judge was not too amused by his non-Warmbloodedness...

         

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