cowboy looking for help
I am interested in learning some basic dressage stuff. I am looking to improve myself with horses in anyway that I can. Dressage seems like a very good way to work on a lot of things. I know absolutely nothing about dressage so please be patient with me. I know there will more than likely be some differences in opinion in what I do for a living but I'm not here to get in a debate on that. I am looking to improve my horsemanship. I have tried to get help in the past and got about as much advice and information on dressage as someone could give me as they were calling me every name in the book because I cowboy. If there is anyone out there that could help me get some ideas of some things I could do in my everyday riding. I am horseback every day but keep in mind it is in a western saddle and the point is to get a job done, so I won't be able to work on this stuff all the time but would be interested in learning whatever I can. Thank you very much for any help.
Just to clarify I'm not looking for someone to tell me how to train a top level dressage horse. I am just looking to get some new, fresh takes on stuff. I would be interested in the approach you take on collection and what it is you are looking for. My horses are used in sorting cows almost on a daily basis, so they have to be collected to be able to cut a cow. (Although I'm sure the collection I do and what you do may be the same basic concept, but looking for totally different things for the reasoning behind it.) If my horses are not collected they would get beat on the turns every time. My horses could benefit from anything new I might learn and be able to try on them. Its hard to believe but they do get bored messing with cows everyday lol. It would be nice to learn some new things to work with them on from time to time.
This is a tough question, and myself, I'm still trying to "do" dressage using "NH" methods, which are, as far as riding goes, more cowboy than dressage.
The goals might be the same, but the journeys are so very different.
1) NH - cowboy-type riding gives the horse far more freedom to find his balance, as he sees fit, to do a task or job. As I heard a trainer say once, "He already knows how to . . ." and it was our job to get him to do it.
2) Dressage schooling: the horse is expected to pay the rider far more attention than anything else in the world. He is not expected to be carrying himself as well as we want, and mostly everything is aimed towards optimizing his movement, as the rider sees fit.
So I guess a lot depends on what you want. I have a little horse I'm learning sorting on, and while I started her in my normal dressage-way, I find I am now wanting her to learn to turn sharply and side-pass more freely, on her own, without contact. I want her to watch the cows! I'm there for guidance, but I'd like her to do more of the work. (She's got way more innate cow-sense than me anyway.:?)
Where the disciplines meet are in the warmup exercises. They are ridden differently, but leg-yields, circles, transitions etc. are always useful.
From the western perspective, "Hackamore Reinsman" by Ed Connell, and from the classic dressage perspective, "Classical Horsemanship" by Alois Podhajsky.
IMO, these two books lay out the best of both in a basic way and work together well.
Beling: Wanting to know what dressage riders are actually looking for and how they go about getting it is what I am looking for. I have my horses trained in a way that I can get a job done when needed as needed. That being said there is a point to where your horse isn't going to get much better at it than he already is. I have some that just conformationally they can't do what some of the others can and I have to ride the horses in a lot different way to get the same job done. Then there are horses like one I am working with now that I'm not sure I could ever get him anywhere close to the point that he's not going to get better. He is a absolute dream when it comes to working cows and a lot of other stuff and as long as I can keep him improving I will probably not do much else with him. My goal in a this is those horses that are pretty much peaked out in what they can do (I know a horse can always improve to an extent) I want to find something new when I am riding them that I can just play around with and work on. I don't see how it could hurt me or my horse to be able to do some different things. I totally understand where your coming from on you wanting your horse to do things themselves as far as working with cows. The main thing is teach them to do it correctly and stay with it as time goes on they will just start doing it before you even have time to tell them to. When that starts the key is to let them start but make dang sure you have them finish correct. A horses first response when working a cow on there own will be to crowd the cow and jump toward the cow all the time, you don't want that to happen that is where you start getting beat by the cow. You can have the best cow bred horse in the world and that is what there going to do. The whole key is to teach them where to be after they start moving don't let them make that choice for awhile or before long you will be right on top of the cow and that is not where you want to be. You are doing sorting so it is a little different than what I am looking for my horse to do but basically same concept when they start doing it on there own (and they will eventually even horses with no cow sense will eventually pick it up. Won't pick it up as fast and won't be as good but they will do it.) just help them do it correct and as time goes by you will find you can just set there and enjoy the ride so to speak. Sorry for being long winded and I'm not sure how I got into all that really if that helps you great if not tell me to shut up because you didn't ask. lol
Boots: I actually have hackamore reinsman and read it many times. I start most all my horses in a snaffle for the first few rides and then go to the hackamore myself. I usually stay in the hackamore for awhile sometimes for a long time just depends on the horse. I have one that is 5 and I still ride him in the hackamore most of the time for the simple fact that is what he is best with. I will try to pick the other book up as soon as I can and start looking at it.
lt...I admit I am the opposite of your abilities and know little to nothing about cow cutting :), or western riding for that matter, but let me put in my 2.5 cents here. From what I have seen and/or read, western bred horses, let me use a quarterhorse here, are built slightly downhill with the croup higher than the withers. From what I understand, this helps the horse move easier in doing activities like cutting..they can "dig in" so to speak, easier and make those quick side to side jumps.
Now, the very basics of dressage is to get the horse balanced back to front and working off the hind end, where the power is located, and lightening the front end which is going to be counter productive to a cutter..if I have the general basics down, however, there may be balancing exercises.
Again, the initial rythm is power from the hind end and getting the horse to use their back properly. Sitting deep in the saddle and using your leg to encourage the horse to move up into the bridle without increasing speed can help the horse learn to get their legs under them. You also might try a lot of trot to walk transitions which helps the horse sit back on their hind end. When doing this type of stop you want to set your hands, create a sort of wall in front, sit , reduce or eliminate any following of motion with your hips and use calf pressure to move the horse into the bridle. If your horse knows how to do sliding stops, I don't think I would do canter to walk or canter to halt transitions as they are going to slide rather than sit back, even though in sliding they ARE sitting back it isn't the same idea..though not sure how to explain that. :)
You can also do suppling exercises, leg yielding, shoulder ins, serpentines, figure eights, cirles..all these can help the horse to balance.
Here is a neat video of what the trainer terms "Cowboy Dressage." This is a mugh higher level than what you are looking for but neat to watch :)
Ok, I can see some of what your saying to an extent from what I have read about dressage on the net. To clear one thing up if you are working a cow and your horse ever gets on their front end your done. You want the horse working off the hind end the whole time everything is done from the hind end. When they turn back correct and hard they are pulling themselves around with there hind end the front end is basically there to keep them upright. There are some horses that will actually make there turns and the front feet will leave the ground at the start of it and won't touch the ground again till they are turned around. I do not ever want a horse who is down hill either as it is almost impossible to get them on their hind end all the time. A horse that is down hill will never do a good sliding stop or a good turn on a cow by themselves all the time. You will have to spend all your time making the horse stay rocked back. ( I know I'm probably going to get hit for saying that but that is a general rule) Their hind end has to be under them at all times to do this well.
I am beginning to think what we are doing as far as collection is not all that different from each other. The main thing I do is I want the horse to collect any time I ask. For example on one that knows how to collect I squeeze with my calves and basically shake my hand and they bend at the poll and rock back on the hind end. One difference is as they advance I don't keep them collected all the time they are responsible as they figure out what is going on to know when they need to be collected and they will eventually start collecting themselves when I ride up to a bunch of cows because they know what they will be doing and it gets to the point i don't need to collect them all the time. Hence why I don't like down hill horses they won't naturally do it themselves you have to make them every time. I prefer my horses to be as level as I can get.
ltcowboy, the best suggestion I can give you is to do your best to find a dressage trainer that adheres to the classical principles and take a clinic with him or her from time to time.
I think that if you discuss your goals and how you would like a horse to work for you with an open-minded dressage trainer (and there are many), you will find that such a trainer will do his or her level best to show you what they know in a way that will make sense to you and to the work you do.
Even if you spend an hour or two a month with a trainer, the payoff will be significant.
The only downside I see is that you may have to trailer for a while to get there and that will eat into your time.
At least try it once.
PS, a good dressage trainer isn't going to care about your tack, the breed of your horse, or your clothes. :wink:
There are plenty of similarities; but also I find a huge difference in Western-type collection and school-dressage-type. (I'm going to leave out Baroque styles, and perforamce art, which seem to have goals of their own.)
Anyway, when I first started, it was with a nice running QH, slightly downhill, but she could collect. I mean, it was easy for her. But what she never learned, because I didn't get the concept until later, was the true acceptance of the bit. Now I suppose you can somehow skip this, and go straight to riding with just your seat, but in schooing-type dressage anyway, what you want is a horse seeking your contact; ready to stretch into the bit.
I rarely if ever got a good lengthening or extension of gaits, because without her seeking my hand and stretching, there was no stretching of her body. I could control her speed with my seat; and I had really good control of her feet; but her posture was up to her. I couldn't influence it at all.
It's kind of the difference of having control over your horse, or working/dancing hand-in-hand.:-)
(Thanks for the tips about the sorting. My little horse can be a little pushy. I guess I still have to pay attention!)
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