My Boy Puck,
I wanted to revisit this subject and explain myself a little better. I reread this thread and thought I sounded a little discouraging and a little like a wet blanket.
If you saw some neat flatwork exercises and were inspired by the high quality trainers you saw, good for you! I in no way meant to rain on that parade. Continuing to educate yourself by auditing lots of clinics and getting new ideas is terrific.
Personally, I like to make a distinction between flatwork and dressage. Now, that's not exactly universally accepted as a distinction, but for those of use that ride jumping horses, it's useful. Here's why I think so: the goal of dressage, besides the gymnastic development of the horse, is complete submission to the rider's aids and the development of sustained collected gaits. For jumping horses, we want the gymnastic development, but not the submission or the collected gaits.
I think any horse that jumps, period, needs to shorten and lengthen stride, develop three clear paces at the trot and canter, and do simple lateral work, at a minumum, leg yield, turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches. Shoulder in and haunches in are good additons to that repetoire. Horses that jump XC need to be working towards *five* clear paces at the canter/gallop in order to have flexibility and that automatic rebalancing that Strange talks about.
For a jumper, I'd add counter canter, flying changes and a modified turn on the haunches at the canter (refered to as either a short turn or a rollback.)
But I call all of this work *flatwork*, not dressage, because of the different goals of the work and also because the difference in the amount of frame and contact used in a pure dressage horse and a jumping horse.
So, if you change the sentence to "Jumping is flatwork with speedbumps." I am in 100% total argeement with it. I know it sounds like I'm being ridiculously picky about word choice, but would you want your horse to carry his submissive attitude and frame from the dressage arena out to the XC course?
I had a horse in my barn once that had, IMO, done too much "dressage" and not enough flatwork for an event horse. He could not hack out on a loose rein, period. He would wander off the trail and bump into things unless you rode him with an active leg and contact AT ALL TIMES. Now, a horse that actively seeks the contact and *wants* to be between the rider's leg and hand is desirable in dressage, but can you imagine riding that horse cross country? Or around a difficult jumper course?
And I agree with Strange that some of the horrific rotational falls being seen in eventing these days are a result of horses being overly reliant on the rider's aids, and being ridden completely between the rider's leg and hand. One video looks like the horse simply didn't take off but crashed the fence because the rider midjudged the takeoff. I don't want to ride that horse either.
Oh, and if your horse gives you the feeling of "Don't worry, I got this." when pointed at a fence, you're probably fine.
Would you please share some of the things you saw at these clinics that you thought were interesting?