Cross Training and Possible Counterproductiveness
I have a horse that is kind of my jack of all trades boy. He has more training that he knows what to do with but he can pretty much do it all. He's entering his mid-teens soon and I want to keep him well rounded but try some new stuff. Right now he's doing 2nd level dressage, schooling higher movements. Jumping some 2'-3' stuff for fun, trail riding and doing a few western pleasure lessons on the side. I'd really love to try reining on him but he doesn't have the get down and dig with his hind end that reiners have. I don't want to ruin all the seat aids I have put on him for the dressage and jumping but I want to do some very novice reining. I don't want a sliding stop or flying spins etc. But I would like him to go on the drape, do his changes on the circles and sit down in a stop and roll back. He can roll back, he can spin slowly and he does his changes with a little help in the balance department but I can't get him to respect the seat bones = sit down and stop part and it's all still two hand maneuvers. I think it's because I'm only playing at the reining stuff and doing a lot of dressage at the same time. Do you think it would be very counterproductive to try to do both or do you think if I worked at it he could differentiate between the two disciplines. I use different bits (pelham with double reins for dressage and a mild tom thumb with short shanks for the reining or a full cheek) and different saddles (obviously). Anyone else have a horse that's this versatile? Or any suggestions? I'd like to get him to be able to carry himself on the aids and contact for dressage as well as collected and balanced on the drape in western tack I just haven't achieved it all yet. Also, for an FYI he's a 15.2 QH gelding that is one of those that likes to naturally run his front end down into the ground. So keeping him naturally lifted is not his forte anyways which is about half the problem. So any tips, exercises that you use for keeping a downhill QH upright without contact on his face would be great as well. Thanks in advance for your input!
I think that all horses would benefit from some cross-training. If you want to try training, I would suggest that you find a good reining trainer that is willing to help you and him. I don't know if it would be counterproductive to his dressage training but I can tell you that when my Dad was showing all the time, he would do roping, reining, and WP (all 3) on most of the horses he showed. If he had one that had some extra cow savvy, he would also do a working cow horse class sometimes in addition to the other 3. That kept his WP horses moving out and natural, his reining horses balanced, and his roping horses calm.
I do working ASH classes with my boy, and am venturing into reining with him. Working ASH classes are similar to reining except ridden in a snaffle with contact and a more 'english' type collection, with more fast turns than reining. My boy seems to differentiate between the different bits quite well. Putting him in the cuirb has actually much improved our stops and turns in the snaffle.
I don't do much dressage, but the few tests I have done on him, he went very well.
I think cross-training is essential to a well rounded horse - I say give him a go and if it isn't working out, just go back to dressage!
The closer the horse gets to self-carriage, the closer you get to piaffe on a looped rein.
What I'm trying to say is...there is no difference between engagement in english tack with a short rein, and engagement in western tack with a long rein. Engagement is engagement and is created only one way by the horse regardless of tack or rein length.
Your problem right now is that he's not engaged enough, period, end of story. Work on that in whatever tack you want...makes no difference.
As long as you are consistent and distinguish your aids, your horse should have no problem doing both dressage and reining, and you should find that both disciplines feed each other.
His biggest problem is that he's overcoming some conformation issues, some old mental issues and some physical limitations so engagement is hard for him in the "dressage" frame. He is more balanced and engaged in his hind end when his head is down and out and he can let himself go on the circles, changes and roll backs. His setbacks are the actual coming under of a stop and I'm not sure if he's capable of an actual reining stop but we're working on it. I was just wondering if letting him stretch it out would make him less willing to collect up for the dressage as he's now schooling 2nd and 3rd level movements with a pretty solid 2nd level test 1. So I don't want to jeopardize this but he's the kind of horse that can't be pushed in only one direction hard and not get sour fast. He is a special kinda guy...haha.
There is only ONE way for a riding horse to engage, regardless of tack and riding discipline.
So, either he's on his forehand when he's doing his reining, or he's pulling a fast one on you in his dressage work, bracing, breaking at C3, and not coming through and is in a false frame...or something in between.
Again, the two disciplines should feed each other.
reining is also known as western dressage, like mercedes said, they feed eachother, they are both the same roundness (well, all roundnesss is the same really) its just a different center of balance, but the center of balance can be changed in a trot step.
I know at least 3 horses that can change form reining to dressage instantly, they can even do tempis, and they have won many reining shows around here.
i thin cross training is the best thing you can do for a horse, physically and mentally, haha i was jumping rena today, and doing dressage, then after i practiced some bridless reining :D
I agree that they are very similar but the way they carry themselves are different. Here is a canter example. He likes to be able to carry his head and neck more level and lift through his shoulder more than his poll. Not saying he can't do it, but it is harder for him as he ties in a little lower and it takes more to get his shoulders up with his poll rounded and be able to extend. Especially at the trot but these are at the canter just because they were what I found. Does this make sense? It's not that he isn't engaged, he's just not AS engaged when he is collected in the upper level movements of dressage (leg yields, walk-canter-walk, etc). When he is long and low and working round he has no hangups.
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