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ButtInTheDirt 12-24-2012 03:13 PM

New To English, Interested In Dressage..
When I was younger, my first lessons were at an English barn. I had about five lessons before we called it quits. The lady who gave my lessons was plain rude, especially for someone who instructs children, and the horses were unpleasant. Since then I have always ridden Western, but I've never really done a specific discipline. Now, I have my own horses, and I have all western saddles. And riding 'western' has just been about me riding with western tack, and nothing much more.

I am interested in English, and have taken a few lessons in English tack on my gelding. (The saddle was too small for my bum, and I'm wondering if that might have given the wrong impression on English saddles.) I'm not really sure where to start, though. Now that I am more confident in my riding, and my skills in general have improved, I'd like to chose a discipline and hone my skills; rather than just be kind-of-good riding in general. I would really like to take lessons on a trained horse, though. As much as I love my gelding, I would like to learn without everything being a desperate struggle.

Where should I start?
Does anyone have any experiences they'd like to share?
If I buy a saddle, should I look into a multi-purpose or dressage?
Is it difficult to find balance in an English saddle, even if you find one that fits?
I don't really have any English riding apparel, if I take lessons will I be required to get breeches and boots?
Could I get a break down of most of what English has to offer?

I briefly know what dressage is, but I have never actually ridden a dressage horse and wasn't brought up that way. Jumping is something I would be a bit interested in, and I've done before in western tack. I like to keep an open mind to trying different things, and seeing as I am not set in my ways quite yet, now might be a good time to take it for a test drive. Thank-you in advance for the help!

tinyliny 12-24-2012 03:25 PM

Well, I think you should decide if you want to jump or do dressage. They are fairly different in terms of the instruction you would seek out. Of course, many jumpers will also take some dressage , since it can be helpful for them. and Some dressage folks do jumping to mix things up.

I would think that doing dressage might be a better choice if you want to bring the skills back into Western riding. look around for a good barn witha a good instructor. observe several lessons to seeif you like the way the teacher interacts with the students, and if the school horses look to be well cared for and reasonably willing mounts.

Don't buy any tack yet. you can practice a lot of what you learn in a western saddle. oh, well, you do need to have a snaffle (non curb bit) . If you only have curb bits, then indulge yourself in buying a snaffle.

faye 12-24-2012 03:35 PM

Where should you start? finding a good stables where you get on with the teacher is the best place to start. English instructors are just like western instructors, there are the good, the bad and the frankly awful.

If you want an english saddle then you would be best off starting in an AP saddle but be very careful with fit. English saddles are harder to fit to a horse and if you get it wrong can result in permanant damage to the horse

I have been told that it is harder to go from western saddle to english saddle than to go from english to western. i've ridden western found the neckreining the most difficult part.
There is far less support in an english saddle so finding you balance is probably more difficult.

If you take lessons and enjoy it by all means get your own breeches and boots, however to start with you will be fine in any trousers that do not have a seam down your inside leg (or if they do it needs to be a very soft seam). Also dont wear jeans as they dont do wonders for the leather on an english saddle, dont have enough flexibility and the seam hurts.
Western boots are finefor starting out however they may catch on the bottom of the saddle flap on some saddles so not brilliant long term.

what english rideing has to offer? depends on what you put in and what you want out? If i asked what western had to offer what would you say to me?

ButtInTheDirt 12-24-2012 03:36 PM

I figured more on the lines of dressage; I don't think I'll be ready to commit myself to jumping any time soon. I have plenty of snaffle bits, so that shouldn't be a problem. I am sort of interested in showing, but I'm not in any hurry and don't want to make it big. I am willing to practice and endure the trials that come with horse riding.

Would it be best for me to find an instructor who will teach me the basics or should I seek one out for lower-level dressage? And any links or explanations with good information on dressage levels, how it is scored, and what it requires would be great. And what mind set it requires in a horse, too. Thank you for the responses!

BornToRun 12-24-2012 03:39 PM


Originally Posted by tinyliny (Post 1812966)
I would think that doing dressage might be a better choice if you want to bring the skills back into Western riding.

^ Yes!

You could maybe try a few lessons of both dressage and jumper to maybe see which one would be more in your comfort zone.

If you were to go out and buy a saddle right now I would say go for a black all purpose. If you buy a dressage saddle and decide to jump you'll have to go out and buy another saddle. Not to mention if you go for a hack and come across an obstacle you have to jump it will be easier for you. I can't tell you how difficult jumping in a dressage saddle is!

No, it's not hard to balance in an English saddle at all, it just takes lots of practice!

If you take lessons I would highly recommend getting a pair of breeches and you'll want to get either a pair of tall boots or a pair of paddock boots.

Good luck!

core 12-25-2012 08:54 AM

If you go with jumping, then you'll start with flat work until the instructor deems that you're ready to jump. Ideally, jumping and lower level dressage have a lot in common. Both want the horse balanced and engaged; both require the rider have an independent seat; and both require the rider be able to control the horses body (example: shorten/lengthen strides).

Even if you choose jumping to start, it'll be months before you go over a jump. Unless you get a "point and shoot" instructor, which is not good. Jumping requires a great deal of rider control over their own body. Don't expect to start jumping within the first six months.

Dressage has the benefit of teaching the rider how to use their body effectively, and each part of your body independently from the others. I like the German idea of starting everyone in dressage first to give them a solid base of skills. Then the rider can choose what direction they want to take.

And there's nothing saying you couldn't take dressage lessons and jumping lessons at the same time (other than costs). I'd focus on dressage for 6 months first, then you'd be more comfortable in the english type saddles. To start with, I'd look for a general purpose saddle to use for dressage and jumping lessons. Don't buy a dressage saddle until you're certain that's the path you want to take. You don't need a dressage saddle for the lower levels.

And Don't go with a lower-level dressage trainer. They lack the big picture view that a higher level trainer has. Some of the fundamentals end up being ignored, or there are gaps in their knowledge. You'll never be any better than the person you train with. Spend the extra money for a qualified instructor who's gone through the levels. Even if you never plan to get past the very lowest levels, at least you'll be learning correct basics. I have had so many bad experiences with people claiming to be low level dressage instructors, and they know absolutely nothing about dressage. It's not even worth the frustration and wasted money. Pay the higher lesson fee for a knowledgable trainer. And make sure they've trained through at least Fourth level. They are not dressage instructors if all they've done is some training level, or never even shown dressage, or all their students are still riding Intro (or Training) Level two years later. They better have at least one student who's training Second or higher. Otherwise, you'll end up a worse rider than you started off as.

The site has listings for certified dressage instructors (listed by region, then state). If the trainer is certified by the USDF for lower levels, thats okay. There are also GMO's (USDF group member organizations) all over that put on shows and clinics. Going to the events would be a good way to talk to people about who they train with, and find out which trainers have good reputations.

CenterlineScores will allow you to verify scores for potential instructors. Take the scores with a big grain of salt. Also, look up their students scores to see how well they do. Scores in the 60's are fine some high fifties would be fine as long as it isn't the majority. You can cross reference the scores from centerline scores by looking up the shows. If everyone in that class scored low, than a low score isn't necessarily bad. But if everyone scored high 60's and the trainer got a 55%, then that's bad.
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