From reining to dressage?

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From reining to dressage?

This is a discussion on From reining to dressage? within the Reining forums, part of the Western Riding category

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  • 1 Post By Allison Finch

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    10-13-2011, 01:48 AM
From reining to dressage?

I have a friend who told me that you could never take a highly trained reining horse and do dressage work because they will never lengthen and reach for the bit. Why is this? Has anyone ever tried to make this transition? How did your horse respond? I don't know anything about reining (except it is great fun to watch!) so maybe someone could enlighten me.

My friend showed her horse on the Arab circuit (reining) but has no dressage experience.
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    10-13-2011, 03:10 PM
I don't think this is true. I just took my very talented reining horse to a dressage clinic for the first time. Of course, he wasn't perfect and neither was I because we had never done this before. HOWEVER, the clinician loved him and told me he was very fancy. Later I had the opportunity to see a friend ride him (she has a lot of dressage experience) and I was amazed at how he moved. He sure didn't look like a reining horse.

His stride definitely lengthened and I believe it takes a while for them to learn to "reach for the bit." The clinician also told me that the training he already had (as a reiner) was definitely a benefit and she has made it to Prix st george more than once. One time it was on a quarter horse.
    10-13-2011, 03:56 PM
Green Broke
I actually know and have ridden a few horses that were trained in dressage and reining, they were fantastic at both. One can even do level 3 dressage, and (i don't know all the reining stuff)but used to be a champion reiner.
    10-13-2011, 04:35 PM
All good trainers today are training for the same type of collection and striding under, so this is a moot point and your friend doesn't really know. Since I DVR a lot of horse programming I was able to compare 2 unrelated programs that prove this point very well. Julie Goodnight recently aired a program with a man who needed help moving his horse into cutting. She set up 4 cones and taught him 2 exercises. The first described a perfect circle around them, the 2nd turned it into a square, and she taught him to collect his horse around the corners before proceeding down the line to the next cone. I also taped a recent "Dressage Symposium" where I heard/watched Robert Dover describe how to introduce a pirouette to his young horse by using the corners to half-halt, then proceed down the wall. BOTH horses were schooled to a collected canter and were obedient to the aids. Same exercise, different tack. Point made.
    10-13-2011, 05:11 PM
Super Moderator
This discussion reminds me of this great video.

DraftyAiresMum likes this.
    10-13-2011, 05:23 PM
ROFL--I've seen this!! Does anybody have the link to the video with the camel and the Arabian?
    10-13-2011, 10:46 PM
Thanks everyone! I love my little 14.2 hand reining quarter horse. As I've already said, the clinician really liked him. She also said she didn't care what the breed was, a nice horse is a nice horse. Jane Savoie also said replace the word "training" for "dressage."
    10-14-2011, 02:02 AM
Fun video, thanks for posting! I'm glad to hear that a reining horse could be used for some dressage training. My friend made it sound absolutely not possible - and I quote "they will never reach for the bit. It won't happen with a horse trained for reining". I didn't understand that but when I questioned her that was the answer I got again so I dropped it.

Anyone know how different the aids/cues are - or are they similar?

Thanks for the input!
    10-14-2011, 08:45 AM
Super Moderator
I wonder if your friend is saying he won't "reach" for the bit because reiners mostly use curb bits which discourage the type of "contact" that dressage horses have with their snaffles. That lack of contact does not mean the horse is any less engaged, IMO.
    10-14-2011, 10:10 AM
You're right, it's not worth arguing because she's obviously made up her mind. However, Allison is also right about the bit. Reiners are trained to go on a loose rein because they are ridden with a curb bit and curb chain. It takes very little contact for them to feel pressure. But, at least in the beginning, for dressage you are using some kind of snaffle (usually a loose ring or eggbutt) where you use direct contact. My horse tended to be behind the bit initially, but gradually allowed me to have more contact. It's about training and learning something new and there is no reason a reining horse can't "reach for the bit."

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