Does dressage have an effect on soundness?
Okay, so, I have a 7 year old Tennessee Walking Horse that has arthritis in his left hock. We found this out last year and since then he's been on stall rest, cortizone injections, legend shots, the whole smash. He's MUCH better now and gets by with a shot of Legend once a month in the winter. I was talking to a lady at my barn who is a serious eventer and she was explaining to me the benefits of dressage. She said he will probably stay sounder for longer if I rode dressage instead of saddleseat, but she said for me to do this, I would have to teach him to trot instead. Now, I'm super iffy about this, I don't know if I have to completely get rid of a God-given gait in order to keep him sound. He was designed to gait and I really don't know if that should be changed, but she sounded very convincing. He does trot under saddle already . . . and I guess what I really want to do is keep him as sound as possible. She's had other gaited horses that she's trained the gait out of them . . . but I don't know. What do you guys think on the whole thing?
Does he do that over the top, rediculas, deformed looking walk that you see in the videos of TWH shows?
If so then there is your problem. Let the horse move in a way more natural to it!
Dressage is essentialy teaching a horse to move and use itself in the mot efficient way and to school the horse to respond to your aid.
You the horrible way they move with the weights on them? Oh no, no weights ever. The lady (Mrs. Hanah) rode him and said he was very weak and then continued on about how dressage would benefit him.
My friend's quarter horse mare Onyx was SEVERLY injured. It was a God-given miracle that she survived her accidents. 2 years later, she was still on doses of bute and Kayla (her owner) rode her hunt seat (no jumps yet) and just kinda played around. Once Mrs. Hanah convinced her to take up dressage, she is SO much better. It's amazing the difference.
I just want to do whatever will keep him the soundest.
Weights, raised shoes and pads make a horse move in unnatural way and put massive stress and strain on muscles and joints.
yes dressage will build up the correct muscles and strengthen him up all round.
The OP is asking also the benefit of retraining this horse's natural gait out of him. I question the benefit of this. I think it is stressful for horses that are designe to gait to be taught to trot. I mean mentally stressful. Some don't seem to mind, but others are just hugely frustrated when they are not allowed to move the way that is easiest for them.
That which makes dressage helpful in maintaining soundness in a horse is that it is like any other gymnastic conditioning; it is tiered and works along a logical progressions that builds the horse's conditioning such that it becomes able to handle the next more difficult demands. AND , of course, the primary focus is on teaching the horse to carry more of its' weight on its' hind legs and have better balance with a rider aboard.
I would think that you might be able to work on many of the training steps even with your horse gaiting. Don't they have dressage for gaited horses? If so, are they gaiting through the tests, or trotting?
Anyway, whatever you did, you would want to start into it gradually. Especially, doing a lot of circle work. But doing it slowly and working on lots of transitions up and down and as the horse got stronger, some lateral work , would no doubt be helpful.
My experience with gaited horses is limited. One thing I have noticed about them is that they can move like the dickens in the forward direction, but do anything that askes them to move sideways and they seem really stiff and seem to step all over themselves. For them, stepping the hind end forward and under the bellly (as is a goal in dressage bending) seems really hard.
Thank you for your input. For gaited dressage, they do the same as non-gaited horses, but gait instead of trot. He trots over poles and he'll trot under saddle and he does not seem too stressed out. Mrs. Hanah says that unless he trots instead of gaits, it won't help him stay sound. Is that right?
Does that mean that the thousands and thousands of gaited horses out there that GAIT wont' stay sound? It sounds odd to me. Gaited people?
i think maybe she just means if this horse continues to go gaited it might mess up his soundness, not every gaited horse wont stay sound, just this one might not.
Dressage will build up muscles which can help a horse with soundness problems in a way that is not as likely to be detrimental to him compared to other ways. Depending on what level your doing dressage does not take a major tole on your horses body. When you start getting into 3rd level movements and up your horse needs to be very fit. There wont be as much concussion on your horses hocks with dressage than saddle seat until you start to get to the advance stuff.
If he already knows how to trot under saddle why dont you try rehabbing him with dressage. Who knows, you might like it more and he might like it more! Also since he already knows how to trot under saddle i dont think you would be taking away his ' god-given gait '. The other thing is you can try and do both! You can still do some saddle seat and still do dressage. You dont HAVE to choose! :) hope that helps :)
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