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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys!

So I am an experienced rider transitioning from 8 years of doing exclusively hunter/jumpers to training dressage for a new working student position. This position is the best position I've ever been offered and is giving me the opportunity to ride horses that I NEVER imagined I'd get a chance to ride. I feel like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and could really make or break my career, so I want to make as good of an impression as possible!! I have a dressage background, so it's not all new, but I haven't ridden dressage since I was about 13 so I'm not sure how much that is going to help me.

Does anyone have any tips on transitioning disciplines? I'd especially like to know if there are any common mistakes I'm likely to make so I can hopefully avoid them or correct quickly!!

On a related note, any tips on starting a dressage horse over fences? I've started plenty of greenies over fences, but never a dressage horse, are there any unique challenges or considerations you've found?

Thank you!
 

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You start with poles then cavelletti and move up from there. Some will take to it like offering candy to a baby. Others you may have to convince.

Congrats on the job offer. Best wishes.
 

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Here's a simple one, but very obvious when it is not done:


DO NOT look for your next jump. Meaning, do not turn your head any more in the direction of your turn than looking at the horse's inside ear. When I see this at dressage shows, it screams' Hunter/Jumper rider!'
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Here's a simple one, but very obvious when it is not done:


DO NOT look for your next jump. Meaning, do not turn your head any more in the direction of your turn than looking at the horse's inside ear. When I see this at dressage shows, it screams' Hunter/Jumper rider!'
That is a great tip! I definitely would have done exactly that and not even thought about it
 

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Training yourself out of popping into a forward seat whenever it feels like "action time" is a HUUUUUGE one. I went from hunters to dressage, and even though I had a sixteen year gap with almost NO riding in between, I still had to retrain my brain and body where that was concerned. Even now, trying to convince myself that I need to stay UPRIGHT at all times is often a battle.

Also, the pelvic angle is very different. Absorbing motion by opening the hip instead of closing it takes a lot of retraining. Have a look at the final image in this diagram, because that's an ideal dressage seat. SO different from a forward, hunter seat!
 

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Also, the pelvic angle is very different. Absorbing motion by opening the hip instead of closing it takes a lot of retraining. Have a look at the final image in this diagram, because that's an ideal dressage seat. SO different from a forward, hunter seat!
Thank you for that image! I work in radiology, and seeing the skeleton and how it’s supposed to be, along with all those lovely pelvic angle diagrams just makes things click for me. I needed that. Every now and then I can feel things just click when I’m riding solo and I can feel “that’s right!” (Happens much more in lessons, but unfortunately those are a bust right now), so it’s awesome to see the anatomy of what the skeleton is supposed to be doing, especially in the proper tilt of the pelvis. That’s my language. Okay I’m done hijacking OPs thread now haha.
 

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Don't lengthen your stirrups to quick. If you are reaching and bracing because your leg and seat aren't there yet, you are just making the process harder. Drop your stirrups when you warm up and cool down and use those things to get accustomed to the feeling.

Do leg swings and ankle circles to loosen your hips and legs and help get yourself into the correct position.
 

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I disagree some with the chart @SteadyOn posted. It may be possible that that is more of the 'fad/show' dressage idea of a seat, but most of the classical trainers I have worked with have said that you need all three points of your seat connected. The two sit bones and, for lack of a less crud description, the front of your crotch.
For someone relearning, the idea of the last graphic could end in sitting way too far back and causing lower back problems.

Back to the thread...

I would say open your mind to everything. There will be a lot of position fixes (if this is a good enough trainer), and it will be uncomfortable, and hard, but it will make you a much better rider. My foundation is in classical dressage but I show and train H/J and always always get compliments on how nice my horses are to flat.
If you're a reader and want to jump start your knowledge, I always tell people to read Paul Belasik books. He's an amazing writer, interesting to read, and you learn SO much! I eat his books up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I disagree some with the chart @SteadyOn posted. It may be possible that that is more of the 'fad/show' dressage idea of a seat, but most of the classical trainers I have worked with have said that you need all three points of your seat connected. The two sit bones and, for lack of a less crud description, the front of your crotch.
For someone relearning, the idea of the last graphic could end in sitting way too far back and causing lower back problems.

Back to the thread...

I would say open your mind to everything. There will be a lot of position fixes (if this is a good enough trainer), and it will be uncomfortable, and hard, but it will make you a much better rider. My foundation is in classical dressage but I show and train H/J and always always get compliments on how nice my horses are to flat.
If you're a reader and want to jump start your knowledge, I always tell people to read Paul Belasik books. He's an amazing writer, interesting to read, and you learn SO much! I eat his books up.
I am a reader, and I will definitely look into that! I'm a big researcher, so as soon as I got offered this job I just started researching absorbing EVERYTHING dressage I could get my hands on. A lot is coming back to me, unfortunately one of the things I'm starting to remember the most is how much harder dressage was! It's all so subtle and precise, and takes much more strength and flexibility. My foundation is also classical dressage. I started under a very traditional German trainer, but left as a teenager because I just really wanted to jump. I'm excited to get back to my roots and just learn everything I can!
 

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I am a reader, and I will definitely look into that! I'm a big researcher, so as soon as I got offered this job I just started researching absorbing EVERYTHING dressage I could get my hands on. A lot is coming back to me, unfortunately one of the things I'm starting to remember the most is how much harder dressage was! It's all so subtle and precise, and takes much more strength and flexibility. My foundation is also classical dressage. I started under a very traditional German trainer, but left as a teenager because I just really wanted to jump. I'm excited to get back to my roots and just learn everything I can!
Really really work hard on learning the difference between current competition dressage and the correct classical dressage.
If you're a reader - Gerd Heuschmann is an amazing writer on the equine biomechanics and correct travel for horses from a dressage background. Totally changed my understanding and riding of all horses!
 

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Not a big dressage fan myself, but I'll recommend this book:

Falling for Fallacies: Misleading Commonplace Notions of Dressage Riding

It challenges many of the orthodoxies of dressage and IMHO does so with a correct understanding of how horses actually move. I continue to find his illustration from a different book of his ( TOTAL HORSEMANSHIP: A recipe for riding in absolute balance ) enlightening:

When the horse tries to move at high speed without allowing for the possibility of sudden stopping, the backward resistance is limited to the amount of energy needed to prevent the horse from falling forward and down, i.e., from tripping. But, if the horse, because of the possibility of some unforeseen event, mores fearfully or cautiously (i.e., when he takes into account the need for suddenly stopping or for preventing a fall), then his mind will literally be torn between the two contradictory necessities. Nowhere other than in the High School movement called the "passage" is the phenomenon of "inhibited thrust" more obvious: while the thrust of the hind legs remains powerful, it is counteracted by an equally powerful hesitancy. And it is this combination which makes all the charm of this movement...

...horses in the wilderness will assume a collected posture, characterized by a constant "coiling under" of the pelvis and a high head carriage...

...Collection is, therefor, a posture which, without hampering his forward movement, allows the horse, if necessary, to check it immediately. For this body attitude, the horse has to permanently brace muscles which otherwise would only be braced occasionally, namely only in those movements when a deceleration occurs.
 
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