Dressage VS. Western Pleasure
Dressage and western pleasure (AQHA) are two completely different ways of riding. However, Dressage is the base of all riding. When the rider collects the horse into a slow canter, I personally think that it looks a lot like a western lope, just a bit faster and a completely different head set. Would I be on the right track or completely off? What I'm saying is, is western like a dressage in that way? Are there things in Dressage that are easier than Western? I would just like opinions from people who have actually rode dressage AND aqha western pleasure.
Dressage is not the base of all riding. :evil:
Western Pleasure is a spin off of western ranch riding. A lope is a relaxed canter. I'm not a WP guy, BTW.
And I was comparing it to dressage. Not just by it self. I was going more into collection
Thanks for your reply though :D
Dressage is a sport, a discipline, a type of riding.
Good riding is the basis for good riding. Learn good horsemanship and good riding skills and you can excel in any discipline, especially at the lower levels.
I am a dressage rider and it offends me when people say dressage is the basis for all riding. It is a falsity and a lie, not to mention also a rude statement to make especially around horsemen and women who have ridden in a different style all their lives and are likely still better riders than you or I.
The difference between a collected canter and a western lope is much more than headset; it has to do with the horse's whole outline, their balance back to front, and their cadence and rhythm. A Western horse has slowed the gait and shortened the stride while keeping the rhythm (sometimes!) and has little to no suspension in the gait; the dressage horse has lowered its haunches, elevated it shoulder, increased engagement behind, and keeps the rhythm while showing more impulsion and more suspension.
One of the problems with saying 'dressage is the basis of all riding' is that it results in inexperienced people trying to incorporate dressage into their riding without having a clue what dressage really is. I'm not a dressage rider, but here is why many dressage books & clinics for non-dressage audiences drive me nuts (and any real dressage riders are welcome to correct me):
Dressage has collected gaits as its goal. In dressage, collection isn't the start point, but the end point of intense training. The goal is a GAIT like what Maura described. And someone willing to devote themselves to dressage will learn that and realize they are working toward collected gaits.
But here is something I've heard 4 times in the last year from local western trainers - and FWIW, I'm a big fan of western riding. Just not modern western riding instructors...
"Your horse isn't soft. You need to collect your horse. Drive him forward with your leg while pulling back on the reins. That will round his back. Get his face to soften...pull it back and collect your horse."
The serious dressage riders on this forum tend to go into convulsions at a statement like that. One of the instructors was one giving me lessons, the others were overheard. And it totally misses the point of dressage, the beauty of dressage and the challenge of dressage. Driving the horse forward with your legs while pulling back on the reins doesn't collect your horse. It confuses him, and pisses him off, but it doesn't collect. If a collected gait was that easy, there would be no need for dressage competitions or training.
Frankly, I think modern western pleasure, like a lot of popular western riding, has been infected with this 'easy dressage' stuff. The roots of western pleasure lie in ranch work, and a guy who rode like this:
For an inexperienced rider on a partially trained horse in rough country, that is actually a pretty good style of riding. And since I've just described me riding my mare in the desert near me, I've tried that style. It is pretty comfortable for both of us.
If you compare that picture with modern WP, it is easy to see the family resemblance. It is also easy to see some changes, and I don't think the changes are an improvement. I think it has adopted some of dressage's style without understanding what that style really involves - hence "easy dressage". The result is a horse that moves with neither the relaxed freedom of a good western horse nor the beauty and grace of a trained dressage horse.
I tend to view the proponents of 'dressage is for everyone' the way I view many popular horse training programs. To make sales, they skip over the real work and substitute easy rules of thumbs - and in the process, ruin more horses than they help.
Good dressage and good western riding are separate disciplines. To understand it, you need to understand the differences between where they came from and the desired end goal. Good dressage and good western riding both start with good riding - a balanced rider on a balanced horse, communicating with and understanding each other. They then work toward their separate goals in a way consistent with their historical roots.
Now that I've stepped on a lot of toes, I'll back away from my soapbox...
As someone who does (western) Dressage and western pleasure, I think WP people could use more Dressage in their WP training. I, personally, use a lot. Although the true foundation of my WP is my horse's breeding. From there, I love using modified Dressage techniques in order to get my horse to round and lift. I like suspension and not for my horse to be on the forehand, even if they travel slightly faster.
I use leg-yields and half-passes for lateral collection, although I like to train them classically and then teach my horse to do them on a loose rein. I do counter-bends, half halts, counter-canter, haunches-in, extended trot, whatever it takes. I basically like my WP horses to be mini-Dressage horses on a loose rein. They may not have the Dressage movement, but my goal is to make my WP horses round through the core and engaged as they lope, so Dressage works well for me.
I think most discipline suse some type of Dressage at some point in training. I know most of the reiners I know so. Even if they call it somthing different.
My friend/vet is a Dressage rider and we compair notes quite offtend. Doing so right now. She was asking just last week how I get my horses to stay on the bit round and low with no contact and I was explaining to her and told he it would be easier to show her so when she is over this week I am sure I will get her on one of my horses again for some more show and tell. She loved riding my stallion with the exception of the saddle. Go figure.
The only AQHA WP trainers I've seen (and they're very successful), use the old yank and crank method. Kick hard with huge spurs while yanking their faces off with twisted wire snaffles. So I'm going to say, No. No relation between WP and dressage. Absolutely not even close. Comparing them is rather insulting.
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