dressage, what's the use? Convince me? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
 152Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #21 of 73 Old 08-31-2019, 11:41 AM
Green Broke
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: eh?
Posts: 2,536
• Horses: 2
It's important to differentiate between dressage(little d) and Dressage(big d) in conversations like this.


Dressage is the competitive discipline that involves riding tests of figures and movements to fulfill certain directives. This is what people first think of then they hear Dressage.


In contrast, dressage is the training and development of the horse(dressage doesn't really focus on the rider, but to develop a good horse, you need to be a good rider). You don't need to ride in the ring or in an English saddle to practice dressage. It's like Yoga for horses, teaching them to use their bodies in such a way as to promote relaxation and responsiveness. This, in turn, helps promote the health of the horse and it's ability to carry a rider throughout it's working life.


It's like if someone wanted to take up jogging. Most people would think there's not much to it, you just go outside and run. But there's a right and a wrong way to jog if you want to do it in the long term. they way you move your arms and breathe and your feet land.
ApuetsoT is offline  
post #22 of 73 Old 08-31-2019, 11:48 AM
Started
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Plano, Texas
Posts: 1,675
• Horses: 0
While I agree with some of the things you present, bsms, I disagree in some areas.

While one may ride in balance without ever taken a “dressage” lesson, dressage certainly includes the concept of riding in balance. In fact, balance is stressed. Intentionally changing balance is a major factor in going from collect movements to extended movements and vice versa. Alois Podhajsky wrote that some dressage competitions used to require riders to ride with one hand, snaffle only, and slack reins to demonstrate that the horse was indeed carrying itself.

The US cavalry changed its training drastically during the US Civil War when there was not time to train either horses or riders using traditional methods. This was also when the cavalry began using more severe bits. General William H. Carter (1851-1925) wrote about this in his book “The U.S. Cavalry Horse”.

An example of subtle communication is displayed in videos of Clemence Faivre posted on YouTube where she performs dressage movements with and without tack.

In her book “Cross-train Your Horse”, Jane Savoie presents examples of people who use dressage principles when training their horses for cross-country riding, barrel racing, cutting horse shows, reining, and even driving. Other well-known “western” trainers such as Bill Dorrance and Buck Brannaman also employ(ed) dressage techniques in their training.

Training riders and horses to work in harmony.
www.quietriding.com
www.quietriding.org
TXhorseman is offline  
post #23 of 73 Old 08-31-2019, 12:58 PM
Trained
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
Posts: 5,965
• Horses: 3
I audited a Buck Brannaman clinic once. The guy is as western a rider as ever there was. If you watch him ride, you are watching dressage. If what you mean by dressage is riding in complete harmony with your horse.
phantomhorse13, boots and Jolien like this.

Short horse lover
Avna is offline  
post #24 of 73 Old 08-31-2019, 03:03 PM
Showing
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
Posts: 11,857
• Horses: 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by ApuetsoT View Post
It's important to differentiate between dressage(little d) and Dressage(big d) in conversations like this...In contrast, dressage is the training and development of the horse... It's like Yoga for horses, teaching them to use their bodies in such a way as to promote relaxation and responsiveness....

It's like if someone wanted to take up jogging. Most people would think there's not much to it, you just go outside and run...
Anyone who signs up fro a dressage class expects a certain way of riding - a way that is NOT needed for the health and calmness of the horse. Bandit and I work on calmness, responding to my desires, ignoring my desires sometimes, and moving efficiently and effectively every time we ride. Yet no one would call my approach to riding "dressage". The fundamentals of dressage involve using a bit and asking for movements contrary to how I ride. My goal is to do the least possible to my horse. That is not the goal of dressage.

A responsive, soft horse is one who WANTS to do what you want. It has nothing to do with on the bit or traditional rein cues.

Lifelong jogger here. Started jogging in 1972. Did 3.5 miles yesterday. Truth is folks DO know how to jog, or very quickly figure it out. Lessons not needed. Listen to your body. Likewise, horses know how to move. They can move with incredible athleticism and grace. For the average rider, DO NO HARM is the rule of good riding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TXhorseman View Post
While I agree with some of the things you present, bsms, I disagree in some areas.

While one may ride in balance without ever taken a “dressage” lesson, dressage certainly includes the concept of riding in balance. In fact, balance is stressed. Intentionally changing balance is a major factor in going from collect movements to extended movements and vice versa....

The US cavalry changed its training drastically during the US Civil War when there was not time to train either horses or riders using traditional methods. This was also when the cavalry began using more severe bits. General William H. Carter (1851-1925) wrote about this in his book “The U.S. Cavalry Horse”....
ALL RIDING should stress balance. But there is more than one way to balance on a horse. Dressage teaches a central balance. That works very well for collected gaits. The rider rides comfortably and teaches the horse to shift its balance under the rider. This is very good in an arena.

A forward seat teaches forward balance. The horse is naturally balanced forward and the rider shifts HIS balance to match the horse. Security is found in the lower leg, not the seat. You should "perch", not "sit".

Western typically teaches being a little behind your horse. You sit with your feet a little ahead. Very good if your horse stumbles, or bucks, or spins. Not good for racing.

In reality, a rider focused on balance will shift between all three. Because all three provide balance depending on what the horse is doing and will likely do next. I used all three during the trail ride this morning.

The Cavalry didn't teach riding prior to the Civil War. They had one civilian manual, very badly written, that some bought. But to the degree it was taught, it was taught like this - General Grant posed for hours so the artist could get it right, and he was considered one of the finest riders in the Army:


None of this, in any way, means dressage is bad. Balance can be learned, as can softness and tact, without a dressage lesson. In fact, they should be PREREQUISITES for learning dressage. Let the rider learn on a slack rein before learning soft contact, and let them be good at soft contact before they try "high schooling". Tact is "a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations". The difficulty of dressage makes tact essential, but equine tact needs to be learned somewhere first. No one is born with it.

Softness comes from the mind, not the body. If the horse wants to do what you want him to do, he can respond before you cue him. Their subtlety is always at least 10 times greater than ours.

If the OP wants to learn trail riding and going fast, dressage training may not be the optimum approach:


Cedar & Salty and Jolien like this.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
bsms is offline  
post #25 of 73 Old 08-31-2019, 03:33 PM
Trained
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
Posts: 5,965
• Horses: 3
@bsms
"Anyone who signs up fro a dressage class expects a certain way of riding - a way that is NOT needed for the health and calmness of the horse. Bandit and I work on calmness, responding to my desires, ignoring my desires sometimes, and moving efficiently and effectively every time we ride. Yet no one would call my approach to riding "dressage". The fundamentals of dressage involve using a bit and asking for movements contrary to how I ride. My goal is to do the least possible to my horse. That is not the goal of dressage."

Bolding mine. The first sentence is simply not true. Dressage is many things for many different kinds of riders, and making a blanket statement like is contrary to all sense.

Your methods and aims are your own, and nothing wrong with that. But have you ever taken any dressage instruction? If you haven't, you simply cannot make any informed statement.

The vast majority of people taking dressage lessons have no aspirations toward Gran Prix or whatever. They will never wear a top hat and tails while riding a horse or probably any other time. The majority of people taking dressage lessons are not even in a dressage saddle. They are just ordinary riders hoping to improve the sensitivity and subtlety of their communication with their horse. Period.

Trail riders have a different set of criteria than arena riders. So do people who hunt, or ride cross-country. But the principles of being in physical balance and subtle communication with your horse are UNIVERSAL. The principles of dressage DO NOT require using a bit. The beginning movements, at least, are just walking, trotting, cantering, stopping, turning. Practicing doing these things with a lot more attention than is ordinarily required walking down a trail doesn't mean that they are useless. I have found them enormously helpful, in fact, much like doing yoga or pilates is helpful to me although I don't normally do shoulder stands while putting away groceries or shoveling out stalls. They help me on a deeper, more fundamental level than mere utility, or style of activity. They inform ALL activity. They are in essence a way of centering, being focused and physically aware.

Short horse lover
Avna is offline  
post #26 of 73 Old 08-31-2019, 06:05 PM
Showing
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
Posts: 11,857
• Horses: 4
"The first sentence is simply not true....But the principles of being in physical balance and subtle communication with your horse are UNIVERSAL. The principles of dressage DO NOT require using a bit." - @Avna

It is absolutely true. If you sign up for a dressage clinic, you do not expect to herd cattle. You do not expect to be told to get off the horse's back. You do not expect lessons in riding with slack reins while the instructor shouts "Get out of his mouth!"

Being in balance is pretty universal, but what does that mean? Do you lean forward to place your balance above the horse (forward seat) or teach the horse to shift his balance back, placing it under you (collection)? Do you sit on a horse or perch? If you truly want to feel balance with the horse, stand in the stirrups. Any failure to anticipate and match your horse's balance will throw you visibly forward or back. But that isn't dressage. If I buy a book on dressage, I know what to expect - and it is NOT to get out of the saddle & lean forward! It will not teach me to use the bit the least possible. Pretending otherwise ignores the entire history of dressage.

I am not in any way denigrating dressage. Done right, it is a beautiful sport. Done with tact, it can unite horse and rider. That is great! But it is not THE ONLY WAY to unite a horse and rider, or to "communicate", or to get a responsive horse. It is merely one of several ways of balancing, developing and communicating with a horse.

"They inform ALL activity. They are in essence a way of centering, being focused and physically aware."

No, no, NO! It is A way. It doesn't inform "all activity". It doesn't inform all riding, even. My goals in riding include using the bit as infrequently as possible. That is NOT traditional dressage theory.

A guy who loves weight lifting wrote this in support of those who run:

"But I must admit, I’m happiest when I’m in the gym. For that brief moment (OK, two hours), all my problems and worries disappear. It’s just me and that weight. No BS, no people with agendas, stress, judgment, bill collectors - just me and that weight...Everything else just fades away and I can just focus on the task at hand. And its really easy to focus when you’re holding 200 lbs. over your head. But I’m happy. Some people play golf, some people collect stuff, some people work on stuff in the garage and some people just watch TV. Me, I’m happy in the gym."

He is right. We get that focus, that satisfaction, that feeling of oneness with our world, in many ways. For me, riding comes close - but it will never match how I feel on a long run. Riding comes close because there are two of us, working as a team, and when we achieve unity it is glorious! We don't achieve it always. Running and lifting weights is sometimes just work too. But when a sport you love clicks, it unites you with...reality? The world? The environment?

And for many, dressage is a way of riding that does that. And that is wonderful. With the right horse and rider, alone, no one around, no top hats, no judges, no adoring crowds - when it clicks, it is wonderful. I don't doubt it. Bandit and I have moments where our minds are in agreement and our bodies work together and for a brief time, we are one. It is almost as good as a long, successful run!

But...it is not a universal anything. And if the OP wants to learn to go across country, some modest jumping, going fast, then learning the Forward SYSTEM of riding would be a better match. IF she can find someone who teaches it and doesn't just teach a "jump seat". The reality is she may need to learn what is available and adapt it, on her own, when she knows more and can experiment. The best way to learn riding is often to ride with the best instructor you can find be it western, dressage, barrel racing, whatever.

But if her ultimate goal is going fast across rough ground, then traditional dressage is not the best match for her goals. It may be the ONLY match in her area, though.
gottatrot and Jolien like this.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
bsms is offline  
post #27 of 73 Old 08-31-2019, 06:50 PM
Green Broke
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 4,753
• Horses: 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I am not in any way denigrating dressage. Done right, it is a beautiful sport. Done with tact, it can unite horse and rider. That is great! But it is not THE ONLY WAY to unite a horse and rider, or to "communicate", or to get a responsive horse. It is merely one of several ways of balancing, developing and communicating with a horse.

"They inform ALL activity. They are in essence a way of centering, being focused and physically aware."

No, no, NO! It is A way. It doesn't inform "all activity". It doesn't inform all riding, even.
I had the same questions as the OP when I started riding english after riding western. It's not really right for people to claim that everyone who is riding and training right is doing dressage, or following dressage principles. Even if you say "dressage" simply means training. That still doesn't give that term a universal claim over the entire horse world. There are just so many disciplines in the world. Driving, polo, skijoring...you can't say everyone who is "doing it right" is using dressage principles.

I was actually thinking about this yesterday. There is the same sort of tendency/bias in heavily western areas, to ascribe what is being done with horses as the "right" way, and other things as the "wrong" way.

Close to me there is a western barn with a western trainer who does not ride english at all. She would not appreciate it if I came in to her arena, watched her working her horses and told her that what she was doing was actually dressage, even though she has not studied dressage and follows an entirely different set of training principles.

What she is doing is not dressage. Yet she does not find much value in my friend's horse that has quite a bit of dressage training. She doesn't think it is very impressive that he can canter very collected or do shoulder-in and half pass. She feels he has rather rudimentary training since he does not neck rein around a fast spin on the haunches and he cannot jog slowly without bouncing on a loose rein while keeping the frame she prefers. I feel a well trained horse under me, she feels something that needs a lot of work.

All good training is not based in dressage, but it is based on getting a horse to work willingly, to respond softly to cues, to change gaits and rate speed easily, and to work in balance. That is whether you are pulling a sled or doing polo or going around trees on the trail. You can accomplish this by practicing and training the horse for the things you want to do. Strengthening the horse's body with gymnastic exercises is a key part of this, whether that means bending through poles or riding small circles or going up and down hills.

Something I need to be able to do since I ride horses trained many different ways is to not try to ride every horse using dressage principles, but rather to ride every horse the way they are trained and understand. Yesterday I rode both a dressage horse and a western horse, and with one I rode sitting back with long stirrups and a loose rein, and he responded easily to my weight aids from the saddle and neck reining. A few minutes later on a different horse I had a short rein and contact with the bit, and I was using my legs for cues along with my seat.
Both horses were well trained, soft and sensitive but only one was trained using dressage principles.

The western horse did not begin with forward, straight, impulsion, etc. He started (and I know this from watching his trainer) with flexion exercises, with learning to rate all of his gaits slowly and exercises to engage and disengage his hind end. His only emphasis on lateral gaits were on quick sidepassing at the walk, and he was taught to turn around the front and hind end while maintaining the pivot feet rather than while maintaining a "gait." When he goes faster at the lope he's not trying to maintain the same tempo with extension, he is actually increasing his tempo in order to keep his gait flatter. These are different training concepts from dressage.

I've also ridden very well trained gaited horses that did not know any concepts of dressage that I could tell. They did not bend through their bodies, and were basically leg movers. Some are trained to go with bit contact for saddleseat, some are trained to go on a loose rein western style.

Dressage has very good concepts that can be applied by many people to many horses. They are not necessary to good training for horses doing things other than dressage. Dressage concepts can be used as tools in many disciplines, but don't have to be.
bsms likes this.
gottatrot is offline  
post #28 of 73 Old 08-31-2019, 07:26 PM
Started
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: north
Posts: 1,543
• Horses: 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post

It is absolutely true. If you sign up for a dressage clinic, you do not expect to herd cattle. You do not expect to be told to get off the horse's back. You do not expect lessons in riding with slack reins while the instructor shouts "Get out of his mouth!"

Being in balance is pretty universal, but what does that mean? Do you lean forward to place your balance above the horse (forward seat) or teach the horse to shift his balance back, placing it under you (collection)? Do you sit on a horse or perch? If you truly want to feel balance with the horse, stand in the stirrups. Any failure to anticipate and match your horse's balance will throw you visibly forward or back. But that isn't dressage. If I buy a book on dressage, I know what to expect - and it is NOT to get out of the saddle & lean forward! It will not teach me to use the bit the least possible. Pretending otherwise ignores the entire history of dressage.

But if her ultimate goal is going fast across rough ground, then traditional dressage is not the best match for her goals. It may be the ONLY match in her area, though.
I don't think you have taken dressage lessons have you? But here's the run down, because there's a few mistakes in your synopsis that I'm sure are only from not experiencing it. And it tends to bother those of us with experience when you make claims that are not accurate, and not representative

1. You will get told to get out of your horse's mouth. You will work your horse on slack rein.
If it is the first of your dressage lessons and you would try and pick up the contact... Oh wait- you'd be on the lunge line... Because stirrups and reins are a privilege and not a right.

You will also work on the contact, yes. But only when you're deemed responsible enough with your hands to warrant being allowed that privilege. You will work the horse from the leg to the rein, but the amount of leg is much greater than the hand, which is light, as the horse's mouth is sensitive, Though overall in all things unless you've made a very dull horse somehow, the horse rides to your seat.



2. Presence of cows depends largely on whether or not the neighbors fence is solid.

3. At some point you will need to learn to sit the trot and the canter because it's necessary for an independent seat, Denny Emerson in his book "How Good Riders Get Good" goes over this, and he takes the reader back to the understanding of bareback galloping and being with the horse and balanced, while yes being on the back of the horse. You are unlikely to be taught this in a jumping lesson situation, although I do know of some exacting and excellent instructors who will send you down a jump chute without stirrups until you "sort it out"

When I let other people ride my horse, they are not allowed to sit the trot, because Nick's back is sensitive and it's easy to make him uncomfortable if you're not good at it (and I'm not sacrificing my horse for someone else's learning)


As for if it is necessary for xC or not- there's a reason dressage phase is in eventing. It takes good biomechanics for a horse to remain sound in the jump work , and that is directly related to how you school the flat. Also if you've ever ridden in a forward seat to a line of spooky fences you know to keep the horse straight and true, you may sit deeper, put one or both legs on, hold your outside rein as a rail, and ride in aforementioned independent seat.

And as someone who frequently "just gallops trails" the dressage work is a bacon-saver. And the know how it gives you to fix broken horses by being hypersensitive to balance and placement of the horses feet and general disposition is imperative if someone wishes to become a rider well suited to many disciplines. I swing up on pony and I could tell you exactly how he's feeling by his back before walking off. I can also soften him with my seat if he is stiff and I can fix a spooky day, or a hot day by the walk work alone. The dressage gives the rider and the horse the basis of communication, a silent, subtle way of conversation.
gottatrot and ApuetsoT like this.


"Stay ON the horse IN the arena" -my trainer.
lostastirrup is online now  
post #29 of 73 Old 08-31-2019, 08:09 PM
Showing
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 47,091
• Horses: 2
If a perso has limited choices for riding instruction, and wants to become a capable rider outside of an arena someday, dressage lessons are a reasonable way to start. A beginner needs to first learn how to just stay on the horse at first, at a variety of speeds, and not be too difficult for the horse to carry. To "get with the horse". You are more of a passenger and you learn to be a good one; don't bump his back, don't jerk his mouth, don't bang his sides with spurs, don't freak out if he speeds up, etc. etc.

After some time, you start to learn how to become a passenger who makes some decisions and begins to shape the horse and how or where he moves. You learn to use your balance to influence him, to use leg, to have some finesse with your hand so that you can slow, collect, bend, extend, the horse. You " get the horse with YOU!" You become a captain not just a passenger.

This takes a lot of time and practice. And basic skills that I think are best laid out in good dressage. Lessons.
I ride trails only now, but my 2 years of dressage lessons help a lot on having a horse that I can maneuver in small or big ways that is so helpful out in the big world.
gottatrot likes this.
tinyliny is offline  
post #30 of 73 Old 08-31-2019, 08:11 PM
Green Broke
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 4,753
• Horses: 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostastirrup View Post
As for if it is necessary for xC or not- there's a reason dressage phase is in eventing. It takes good biomechanics for a horse to remain sound in the jump work , and that is directly related to how you school the flat. Also if you've ever ridden in a forward seat to a line of spooky fences you know to keep the horse straight and true, you may sit deeper, put one or both legs on, hold your outside rein as a rail, and ride in aforementioned independent seat.
Honestly not trying to be argumentative here. Eventing came about as a competition based on military testing, which at the time included dressage. This was about suitability for military horses and riders - it wasn't like they were thinking hmm, we should include dressage since it is necessary for good jumping. Rather, dressage was necessary for drilling on military parade grounds.
Foxhunting predated dressage as a discipline, and that was the first formal cross country I believe. Edit: perhaps steeplechasing came first.
https://www.fei.org/stories/history-...st=2&content=2

For jumping you need the ability to steer the horse well, to get the horse to shorten or lengthen strides as needed between fences, and to stay balanced with the horse. Those were part of fox hunting before three day eventing or formal dressage training came about. You can teach the horse how to shorten or lengthen and gain balance in the arena with dressage exercises. You can also teach the horse these things outside or on a course. People didn't always have the use of arenas for training horses.

The horse world is massively bigger than dressage and rather than seeing all horsemanship under the umbrella of dressage training, I see dressage as a small branch on a very big tree.
gottatrot is offline  
Reply

Tags
dressage

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.



User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome