"The aim of dressage is not dressage - the aim of dressage is to have a well school, responsive horse who is using himself well and powering from behind (the vast majority of thier power is in the muscles of the hind end). Horses move faster when using thier back end to power them rather then thier front."
That would explain why race horses use dressage to win...
No. The aim of dressage is dressage. Lower level dressage teaches and trains and strengthens the horse so it can shift it's weight far enough to the rear to perform upper level dressage. Dressage is a SPORT, and a subcategory of horse riding. It is not invalid or evil, but it is not just "training". If it were just training, then everyone who trains a horse towards any goal is a dressage rider. Barrel racers don't do dressage, and steeplechase riders don't do dressage, and anyone who pretends they do is ignoring dressage.
Why does dressage emphasize shifting weight to the rear? Because it is needed for dressage movements. Race horses power themselves from the rear. Barrel racing horses power themselves from the rear. So do cutting horses. So does my bitless mare.
This is not dressage:
Nor is this:
Nor here, in a third picture with ears back:
"A horse can go around slow with his head down or avoiding the bit, and evading by dropping behind the vertical as shown in most of those pictures throughout the article, and look "pretty" but be functionally strung out and not connected whatsoever tail to nose.
" Post 7
"the first horse is dragging itself round with its front end, back end is doing very little and the horse is very clearly not comfortable."
Here is the picture again (and since the original article was a blog post, the author may not have spent a lot of time looking for a picture):
Frankly, the picture isn't big enough to see if the horse " is tense through its jaw, stiff through its neck and those are not comfy "i'm listening ears" those are "i'm back because I'm uncomfortable ears".
Blown up and adjusting for color, the ears are neither pinned nor fully erect.
Meanwhile, the neck is level, the head at a comfortable angle for the horse to see, the legs have even angles front & rear, tail down but not clenched...I can see my horses in a similar position when moving on their own.
Now, let's talk about collection ("it means that the horse lightens up on the forehand, shifts its weight onto the hind end, and its stride shortens
) as a goal. What is its purpose?
Let's discuss it from an engineering perspective. My mare Mia can generate X power with her hind legs. It can be expressed in the vertical or horizontal. If in the vertical, then it keeps her rear end up with some portion to spare. If she uses all of it in the vertical, it is a buck, unless she collects.
If used in the horizontal, it increases forward motion. If my goal is maximum acceleration and top speed, then I would ideally like 100% of X going into forward motion - but that would leave none supporting her rear. But for maximum speed and acceleration, I want a minimum amount of power supporting her weight, and most of it turning into forward motion. Since most of her powerful hindquarters are providing thrust, the lift (I spent a career in jet fighters) must come from her front legs. The rear is her engine, and the front legs are her 'wings'. Maximum speed and acceleration comes from carrying her weight with her front and letting her engine provide the thrust.
When do I want to lighten the front end and shift weight to the rear? If I want to be able to arc the front end in a circle while the rear stays still, then I want all of X supporting weight, and the front supplying the arcing power. That will provide the fastest pivot.
In a dressage ring, collection (as you define it) is important (presumably) for dressage events. Remember, dressage is a sport where you perform certain actions. It is NOT harmonious barrel racing, and you won't see a horse cutting cattle in Olympic dressage.
Outside of dressage tests, it has little value. Most people ride horses to move forward, not to spin in an arc around a point. Most equine sports - racing, barrels, campdrafting, etc - rarely need more than a momentary pivot, but that pivot must be followed by acceleration immediately afterward. Most racing, of course, requires no pivoting at all.
The ideal balance is based on what the horse & rider are trying to do. A horse can be well balanced and in control with most weight on the front, or rear, or in between. When someone says, "the horse can't collect and balance", they are confusing two separate issues. Balance is not collection.
I'm not attacking dressage. All I'm doing - and it shouldn't be even slightly controversial - is saying that dressage isn't the end all of riding horses, and that horses can be ridden well without collection, and that non-dressage riders often use the term collection in a way that differs from dressage - so read a non-dressage article without worrying if the horse is on the bit and collected like a dressage horse would be.
BTW: the author of the original article is April Reeves. A Google search turned up this quote, which I agree with: "
I believe in respecting all breeds and disciplines. Although many of them teach and use methods that may not be of use to you, they still are part of the big wide horse world, and becoming a ‘horseman’ is about knowing or respecting what and how other breeds and disciplines do things."