Flatwork or Dressage? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 21 Old 12-20-2011, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Flatwork or Dressage?

Just curious to see what you all think means what!

Following on from Real Dressage and what constitutes as dressage, and what people think it is to what degree etc I want to know what you consider is flatwork, which then develops in to other disciplines? Is it the same for English and Western?

For me flatwork is the basic control of all gaits, halt, rein back etc. Being able to send your horse forward, and to collect your horse.

Dressage is where you start competing, and getting ready for competitions.

I don't ride western, xcountry or showjumping, so unsure about that, but jumping you still have to have the basics, right?

So thoughts?

Lets keep it nice and clean though guys. Debating, no snarky comments though.

Ta kindly!
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post #2 of 21 Old 12-20-2011, 06:49 PM
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"Dressage" is the French word meaning "training." All training on the flat that brings the horse forward, using his hind quarters, developing his "ring" and working in a balanced manner is doing "dressage." A good hackamore reinsman starting a 2 year old or a seasoned competitor working a Grand Prix Jumping Warmblood on flat is training.. or doing 'dressage.'

Dressage Level 1-4, Prix St. Georges, Grand Prix, Haute Ecole and Airs above the ground are competitions or exhibition.
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post #3 of 21 Old 12-20-2011, 07:44 PM
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But what if you practice all the movements, can collect your horse to some degree of competency, do passable half-passes, shoulder-ins, mediums, etc., but don't compete. At anything. Ever.

How would you classify that? Is it as simple as competing versus not competing?

Dressage is flatwork, but not all flatwork is dressage. :)

It is more of a relative term in the context of whatever else you are doing. In my experience, having spent a lot of time around a lot of hunter/jumpers, "flatwork" referred to the time they spent schooling the horse "on the flat," or rather, NOT over fences. If they were any good, it would be "dressagey," getting the horse working on the aids, nice and soft, in an outline (but this was not necessarily the case with everyone). It was all "flatwork," rather than "dressage."

If you're not a serious hunter/jumper or eventer, then almost *everything* you do is "on the flat." So the term essentially becomes meaningless.

Just to make it a little bit more ambiguous, I've met riders in other (jumping, mainly) disciplines who will say, "I'd like to learn a little bit of dressage." For them, "flatwork" means schooling the horse without fences, but the horse might be totally inverted and on the forehand, whereas "a little bit of dressage" signifies -- quite specifically -- training the horse to come into an outline and actually use its hind end.
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post #4 of 21 Old 12-20-2011, 08:01 PM
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I've been taught and have always thought of flatwork as all and any work that does not go over fences. It can be western, english, dressage, saddle seat....if you don't go over a jump, your doing flatwork.
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post #5 of 21 Old 12-20-2011, 08:05 PM
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The only ones I ever hear use the word "flatwork" are hunter or jumper riders and it seems to mean that it's work on gait, balance and improving obedience to the seat, instead of jumping. Whether that is the same as low lever work for dressage training or not kind of depends on how they are riding. If they are mostly just having the horse canter around with out any connection to the bit, then , to me, that is not quite the same as dressage flatwork .
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post #6 of 21 Old 12-20-2011, 09:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thesilverspear View Post
But what if you practice all the movements, can collect your horse to some degree of competency, do passable half-passes, shoulder-ins, mediums, etc., but don't compete. At anything. Ever.
Funny.. I did this as a matter of course in training any young horse to go on and do whatever the new owner was up for. It is "Dressage" or "Training" and it is laying that all important foundation.

Quote:
How would you classify that? Is it as simple as competing versus not competing?
No. Training is training. Now you can be at level 2 for instance.. but it is still dressage or training. The levels and other names are what they call the exhibitions and trials and so forth.

Quote:
Dressage is flatwork, but not all flatwork is dressage. :)
You are over complicating this. Dressage = training = Flat work = hackamore Reinsman = training = Dressage. Dressage and training are interchangeable terms. To say you are dressage training is like saying you are training training..... (tho we all say "training dressage" or "dressage training" here in the US).

Quote:
It is more of a relative term in the context of whatever else you are doing. In my experience, having spent a lot of time around a lot of hunter/jumpers, "flatwork" referred to the time they spent schooling the horse "on the flat," or rather, NOT over fences. If they were any good, it would be "dressagey," getting the horse working on the aids, nice and soft, in an outline (but this was not necessarily the case with everyone). It was all "flatwork," rather than "dressage."

If you're not a serious hunter/jumper or eventer, then almost *everything* you do is "on the flat." So the term essentially becomes meaningless.

Just to make it a little bit more ambiguous, I've met riders in other (jumping, mainly) disciplines who will say, "I'd like to learn a little bit of dressage." For them, "flatwork" means schooling the horse without fences, but the horse might be totally inverted and on the forehand, whereas "a little bit of dressage" signifies -- quite specifically -- training the horse to come into an outline and actually use its hind end.
It all gets pretty silly in the end. What we want is that horse that is balanced and able to work off his hindquarters. You get that thru training and that training is pretty much the same as the start and training you give a horse that is going to be a hunter, jumper, Eventer, Cutting horse, Reining horse, Barrel horse or ranch horse.

Like I said.. you are getting all bolixed up in the vocabulary. No need. Just train the horse and lay on a foundation. Call it Fiddlestix if you want to.. it is all the same stuff with the same goal... a balanced horse that is light on the forequarters and able to collect and extend, move with suppleness and lightness.
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post #7 of 21 Old 12-21-2011, 07:04 AM
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I love forums. :)

I was mainly responding to Duffy's question, as she seemed to be suggesting that dressage meant competition and flatwork meant everything else.

All of these terms are social conventions -- there is no a priori meaning outside of how people use them. The convention is that most people do not use "dressage" interchangeably with "training" and sadly, most horses I've met in the last five years do not have a the sort of foundation you describe on them. Such horses are "trained," as they can carry a rider and walk/trot/canter and jump, but not trained in a way I find makes them a pleasant or balanced ride.

Last edited by thesilverspear; 12-21-2011 at 07:07 AM.
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post #8 of 21 Old 12-21-2011, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elana View Post
"Dressage" is the French word meaning "training." All training on the flat that brings the horse forward, using his hind quarters, developing his "ring" and working in a balanced manner is doing "dressage."
Agree with Elana here.

I started the thread while back asking western trainers here on how do they start the horses. I do remember an excellent post from one of the members (sorry, don't remember the name) that basically they start in snaffle and teach the horse to be light, forward, and working from behind first (the foundation), and only then proceed to more complicated stuff. That's absolutely the same things I work on whether I go to my dressage trainer, the eventing trainer I started working with just recently, or the jumping trainer while back.

So to me flat work = dressage = foundation (and I know many eventers and show jumpers take dressage lessons regularly, still those jumpers don't compete in dressage and use their jumping saddle for the dressage lessons).

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post #9 of 21 Old 12-21-2011, 08:44 AM
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I remember another thread asking this same thing. I think we all agreed that flatwork is "dressage" and shows are "Dressage". Note the capital on the shows one lol.
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post #10 of 21 Old 12-21-2011, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiilaa View Post
I remember another thread asking this same thing. I think we all agreed that flatwork is "dressage" and shows are "Dressage". Note the capital on the shows one lol.
Yeah, I remember this one too (it's been a while).

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