Question on turning corners: Dressage v. hunter? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-25-2011, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Question on turning corners: Dressage v. hunter?

Ok so this question goes out to the people who do dressage and O/F: Is there a difference on how you turn the corners? My current H/J trainer is re-teaching me on corners by having me keep the horse's head/neck straighter as she turns. I also have been working on using my outside leg more to tell her to turn and rely less on my reins.

On the other hand, the lessons I have taken for dressage has been more about bending around the corner. That trainer told me you should be just able to see the horses inside eye and the horse should make a gentle crescent.

I understand these are two different disciplines but I was just wondering what the advantage to keeping a horses head and neck straight instead of curving around the corner when jumping.

(It is definitely helping and my green horse does much better when I keep her straight like that)
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-25-2011, 07:24 PM
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Good question.

I use a bit of bend when going around corners...

Hopefully someone has a good answer/reasoning to give you.

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows. --Epictetus
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post #3 of 15 Old 08-25-2011, 08:11 PM
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HOrses, at liberty , will usually not bend when going around a corner, in fact they will often almost counterbend (like going around the corner heeled over like a motorcycle). This is a very energy effeciant way of moving and requires the least effort on their part. It is also a very "forehand" heavy way of corner , with quite a bit of centrifugal force, which they counter by leaning inward to the circle/bend.

When the horse carries the rider, in order to not add a greater strain to the front legs and to build the kind of strength and balance to do manuavers at slower speeds, such as pirouettes, the horse must be taught to be more upright (not lean into the inside) and bring the combined weight of itself and its' rider back toward its' hind end. The focus is a more upward carrying energy, rather than a foreward "falling" energy , (as in running and leaping over jumps).
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-25-2011, 08:33 PM
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I think it also depends on the size of the corner. If you are riding a corner in a dressage test, it's a quarter of a 10m circle. That's pretty small for a horse to turn with a completely straight neck unless you are a skilled rider.

"He doth nothing but talk of his horses."
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post #5 of 15 Old 08-29-2011, 11:58 AM
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When you are jumping, it is very important that the horses are straight and that their stride stays consistent. If you have alot of inside bend around the corner going to a fence, it may be harder to get them nice and straight for the jump, depending how far it is set out of the corner. The horses shouldnt be counter bent (bent to the outside) either as this will just cause the same problem, crookedness and breaking up of the stride. The horse should come around corners looking where theyre going, but not over bent. :)
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post #6 of 15 Old 08-29-2011, 12:31 PM
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I had to read this several times before posting. I see no benefit letting your horse stretch his head forward during any turns. All of the power for jumping comes from behind. Dressage exercises are the etudes that enable your horse to do everything better. Your horse should be able to jump low jumps (up to 3'0" verticals) from a walk. Stretching the neck forward isn't going to help that. Also, even if it looks better, it won't help you with any speed.
A good hunter or jumper course is constructed so that the rider makes planned and fluid turns, and plans to make the turns efficiently and straighten in at least one stride before the next jump. Isn't it the challenge to stay round and rythmic so you don't jump flat and pull poles?
You know that engaging the hindquarters takes energy and effort, and horses are like us--all that exercise is HARD!! they will avoid it.
I have heard of letting your dressage horse stretch down after collection to avoid too much lactic acid buildup, and too give a release from tension.
Have you ever set up a course with just poles on the ground, walked it to plan, then ridden that? Try it and see if you agree with your trainer's advice, or not. Let us know.
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post #7 of 15 Old 08-29-2011, 01:15 PM
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In Dressage, technically the neck is coming straight put of the shoulder in all movements. The flexion comes from the poll only and the entire shoulder and neck "piece" of the horse that makes up the forehead moves together. Bend comes from the ribcage moving over and the horse moving around the inside leg like it is a pillar while allowing the outside aids to contain the shoulder and haunches on the line of travel.

Really, ideally in any sport a correct turn is a correct turn. It should serve to rebalance though half halts and maintain or increase the suppleness of the body while remaining upright and pushing from behind. Too much of any aid is not correct and an even contact should be maintained both in the reins and the leg aids.

Good luck!
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post #8 of 15 Old 08-29-2011, 11:29 PM
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Hunter jumper is using squares
Hunter on the flat is using ovals/circles
Hope that helps!

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post #9 of 15 Old 08-30-2011, 01:44 PM
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I turn the same whether I am riding a dressage test or a course over fences with a slight inside bend throughout the whole body.
Because you say your trainer wants your horse to be straighter through their neck and head and use more outside leg, my best guess would be that you turn from your reins rather than your leg. It's possible that you have a lot of 'bend' (I don't like thinking of only the neck as bend at all) through the neck and your horse is popping their outside shoulder through the turns, so your trainer wants you to use more outside aids to keep the correct bend to have a straighter rather than crooked horse, if that makes any sense. If your horse is bending through the neck, popping their outside shoulder, and is disconnected, you have a crooked horse, not a 'straight' horse who is uniformly bent from poll to tail.
I guess what I am trying to say is that in my opinion to have a straight horse does not mean there is no bend, I think of it more as they are uniformly bent. I think of straight vs. crooked, not straight vs. bent and this may be what your trainer meant.

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post #10 of 15 Old 08-31-2011, 08:45 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by anrz View Post
Because you say your trainer wants your horse to be straighter through their neck and head and use more outside leg, my best guess would be that you turn from your reins rather than your leg.
She's definitely said that. I am working really hard on not relying on my reins and using my seat and legs to turn her. I still have to use the reins quite a bit but we are getting better. What you are saying makes a lot of sense.
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