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View Full Version : Contact and connection to collection-bits, bosals, sidepulls



LMH
Aug. 24, 2007, 12:26 PM
Rather than drag up the NH threads here is a question that I think would be beneficial for NH'ers to hear a dressage perspective.

Is a BIT necessary for correct contact? If so why?

In other words, if the purpose of contact is to create the circle of energy and block energy from leaking out the front, can this not also be achieved with a sidepull, bosal, rope halter or even a neck rope?

If not, why?

What is it about an actualy bit that makes the energy blocking and recycling different (if anything at all)?

monstrpony
Aug. 24, 2007, 01:00 PM
Those who believe that contact is defined as contact with a bit will say a bit is necessary. Those who believe contact can be established through things other than a bit will say it is possible to have contact with something other than a bit.

And then the whole discussion will degress into an argument about whether or not it's dressage, since this IS a dressage board.

Me? I believe it is possible to have contact and to close the circle of energy with something besides a bit, even with feel, in the absence of a physical connection. But it makes life easier if I concede that this kind of riding is not dressage.

I will be interested to hear the "why or why not" answers.

MyReality
Aug. 24, 2007, 01:32 PM
Jessica Jehiel wrote a very good reply in recent issue Dressage Today. While she seems to be a 'bitless' person, and I am a 100% bit person, her explanation I can understand and I would call it a good argument for bitless.

My arguments, there are 3:

-- bitless work on pressure the same way as bit, same way as your leg and seat. I cannot understand why people think a bit is not as kind. However a bit is more prone to abuse by the unskilled hand... but it just points to the fact some bitless are more severe, they prevent people from abusing it it e.g. hold onto to it for balance.

-- bit offers a huge range of aids... you can 'play' it ring finger, release and not throw away, invite the horse to chew away, right hand a little higher, outside a little firmer, 1 pound pressure, 2 pounds, 3 ounces... all up to the rider at the moment when it's needed, and according to individual horse. Unlike many bitless, it's not an 'on/off' switch. It means it is harder to use well, but there are infinite combinations.

I have tried to use a pressure halter. Sure you can bend the horse or bend the neck, but for the love of God, I do not know how to do flexion properly, hence there is contact but laterally the horse is not supple.

-- it is required in dressage competition. It is VERY unfair to school the horse in one type of equipment, then expect it to perform similarly in another set of equipment. Rider also need the practice. If you horse doesn't care one way or the other, it just means your horse is a versatile worker who adapts quickly.

Now I do believe there are occasions you want to use bitless. For instance you are mostly a trail rider and do cross training, and don't compete. I say bitless is fine. For instance your horse has teeth/mouth problem, or he is reactive to a bit for unknown reason, I would also use bitless.

LMH
Aug. 24, 2007, 02:07 PM
Thanks for your comments so far.

It would REALLY be nice if this thread remains educational and does not digress.

There is an opportunity for a polite conversation-you know like people would do in person! :lol:

Sithly
Aug. 24, 2007, 02:34 PM
I would say it is not possible to have correct bit contact without a bit. Heh.

But it's also pretty obvious that things like collection and suppleness are possible without any contact at all. Whether or not that's dressage ... I don't know. I'm just a recreational dressage rider.

angel
Aug. 24, 2007, 03:39 PM
I could probably work a horse toward collection with a bosal. What you need is something up front to stop the shoulders from escaping the energy created in the hindquarters in order to develop longitudinal bend. The lateral bend of the horse should properly be created by the rider's weight aids. However, not many riders are that good with understanding how to use that influence. Once the horse was completely trained to the weight aids, it should be possible to ride the horse in only a prayer rein, or loop around the neck. But, notice that with that again, you are controling the shoulder points. I have seen really good riders who have trained horses to go completely without anything controling the shoulders, but that is beyond my skill level. I would not want to start a horse from scratch without a bit as I have no death wish!:lol:

Bluey
Aug. 24, 2007, 03:44 PM
I could probably work a horse toward collection with a bosal. What you need is something up front to stop the shoulders from escaping the energy created in the hindquarters in order to develop longitudinal bend. The lateral bend of the horse should properly be created by the rider's weight aids. However, not many riders are that good with understanding how to use that influence. Once the horse was completely trained to the weight aids, it should be possible to ride the horse in only a prayer rein, or loop around the neck. But, notice that with that again, you are controling the shoulder points. I have seen really good riders who have trained horses to go completely without anything controling the shoulders, but that is beyond my skill level. I would not want to start a horse from scratch without a bit as I have no death wish!:lol:

Ever heard of Freddie Knie?;)

He trained with a snaffle, but he could ride a higer level dressage test correctly, without anything on the horse, no saddle, string around the neck, not anything.:cool:

Control is in the training of the horse and using the rider's weight, seat and legs for aids.

ponyjumper4
Aug. 24, 2007, 04:02 PM
Control is in the training of the horse and using the rider's weight, seat and legs for aids.

Which is why I don't think a bit should be a requirement to show, although I understand the idea and the philosophy behind it.

Sandy M
Aug. 24, 2007, 04:24 PM
Okay, question:

If you are using a bosal or other nose pressure - how does a horse "give" to the pressure? Wouldn't you have to maintain constant pressure to maintain connection? With a bit, the horse can relax the jaw and "carry" the bit, maintaining the connection and/or the rider can "soften" the pressure without giving up the connection. Just asking.

Nothing wrong with riding bitless. I often do it for trail riding and used to occasonally jump my long-deceased eventer bridleless. But I didn't call any of that "dressage," even if I were requesting a leg yield or shoulder in or whatever.

monstrpony
Aug. 24, 2007, 04:27 PM
Please note that the OP did not ask if this kind of riding is dressage or not, she only asked for dressage riders' perspectives on the question of contact and connection using something other than a bit.

(I apologize for muddying the waters by bringing up whether or not this is dressage, because it should be an interesting discussion if it doesn't get derailed)

LMH
Aug. 24, 2007, 05:13 PM
OK...first i do want to be VERY clear-I am not asking to bait some kind of dressage or not question-though I never even thought that the point could be a subpoint of discussion.

I am not anti-bit either-I show hunters and have used a bit for years.

However I do ride often in a rope halter (think same action as a bosal) and after the NH/dressage threads and contact, etc it just got me thinking-I thought this would be the best forum for a discussion.

OK...to Sandy...I am just talking through this based on your response so here we go...:)

Maybe this is a fine line distinction that I am still not clear on but this is my understanding.

Whether I use a bit or halter, I am able to feel contact (ala pressure) in the reins...it can be as light as lifting the rein or as heavy as...necessary.

The horse with either can 'give' vertically (or laterally for that matter) and the pressure can be released as much or little in either.

Of course he won't be carrying a bit when it isn't there, but I still feel a blocking of energy leaking out the front and am able to create the 'bow' i.e. lifting the back.

I guess what I am wondering is if there is something not releasing by not having the bit (the jaw is all I can think of)...but can he lock it if there is no bit? Or can you still get a release there?

I guess the waters are muddied now so here is my dumber question of the day...why couldn't it be dressage? Is the bit a requirement? I thought it was simply the connection and circle of energy?

MyReality
Aug. 24, 2007, 05:24 PM
If it makes anybody feel better:
sidepull, bosal, rope halter can circulate energy as they can block the horse.

but they do not allow correct contact. Contact is a connection. Like another poster says, if a horse backs away from the blocking aid, there is no connection. contact is a horse participating in this joint communication, and push himself into it as he seeks this line of communication and instruction on how to balance.

LMH
Aug. 24, 2007, 06:14 PM
If it makes anybody feel better:
sidepull, bosal, rope halter can circulate energy as they can block the horse.

but they do not allow correct contact. Contact is a connection. Like another poster says, if a horse backs away from the blocking aid, there is no connection. contact is a horse participating in this joint communication, and push himself into it as he seeks this line of communication and instruction on how to balance.

OK this is making a little more sense I think?:confused:

But why can't he push into the sidepull, etc just like a bit? To me he can back off a bit there would be no connection as well?

Bluey
Aug. 24, 2007, 06:25 PM
If the intent is to train to eventually achieve complete selfcarriage with a rider's weight on it's back, then however you teach that may in the end be without hardly any or as much contact as you want to train with, or NONE, AS LONG AS THE GOAL IS ACHIEVED.

I would say if and how much contact is in what you want to call the end goal.
I rode one TB that was trained to compete in the olympics that could be ridden correctly without any discernible contact, he was so light on hand.
If in those days we would have been playing around bridleless, I expect he would have been fun to try it on and see what we could do and stay correct.

Those of you riding today may try it and come back to us.:cool:

angel
Aug. 24, 2007, 06:28 PM
The problem that most people have in thinking about bits, is that it is the bit, itself, or the horse's mouth with which you need to establish "connection." This is just not so. The connection does not need to be mouth-centric. Yes, dressage definitions given in the hand book do specify the use of a bit, so a bit must be used if you are going to show "regulation" dressage. But, if you are not doing "regulation" dressage, anything that will limit the horse's shoulder points, and specifically control the diagonal path of energy from the shoulder point to the diagonal hind leg, is sufficient to establish "contact."

angel
Aug. 24, 2007, 06:43 PM
Sandy...I forgot to answer your question about the bosal. The bosal works sort of like a mix between a snaffle bit, and a side pull. You definitely do not want constant pressure across the nose or you will numb the nose to the point the horse just runs through. The use of the bosal is definitely a give and release sort of training, just as your snaffle should be. The knot under the chin should just keep the nosepiece resting on the bridge of the horse's nose...without hardly any pressure...just like the caveson of the regular snaffle bridle. You can take contact in both mecate reins at the same time, which acts on the bridge of the nose and the horse's poll just as a curb bit would work. When you are first starting, you can also use just one rein side at a time. When you take a rein...let's say the left rein...the pressure is along the right side of the nose, asking the horse to turn left. So you can put pressure on either side of the face, or put pressure on top of the nose, along with some poll pressure, just as you would do with any bitted bridle.

Traditionally, the horse was started in the snaffle as a 2-3 year old. But, when the second teeth began erupting, the horse was put in a bosal so the mouth would not be involved. After all the new teeth were in, then the trainer would go to a curb bit of some kind...many ultimately made a spade bit horse. This was considered the highest form of the art of vaquero riding.

The bosal is made of braided rawhide. I had to wrap mine in chamois because my horse was so thin-skinned the roughness of the rawhide would put marks just hanging there. The chamois worked very well.

LMH
Aug. 24, 2007, 06:55 PM
angel...'the connection does not have to be mouth-centric'-THAT is the essence of my question.:)

Also thanks for the background on bosal to the spade bit. Interesting!

Sandy M
Aug. 24, 2007, 06:56 PM
Sandy...I forgot to answer your question about the bosal. The bosal works sort of like a mix between a snaffle bit, and a side pull. You definitely do not want constant pressure across the nose or you will numb the nose to the point the horse just runs through. The use of the bosal is definitely a give and release sort of training, just as your snaffle should be. The knot under the chin should just keep the nosepiece resting on the bridge of the horse's nose...without hardly any pressure...just like the caveson of the regular snaffle bridle. You can take contact in both mecate reins at the same time, which acts on the bridge of the nose and the horse's poll just as a curb bit would work. When you are first starting, you can also use just one rein side at a time. When you take a rein...let's say the left rein...the pressure is along the right side of the nose, asking the horse to turn left. So you can put pressure on either side of the face, or put pressure on top of the nose, along with some poll pressure, just as you would do with any bitted bridle.

Traditionally, the horse was started in the snaffle as a 2-3 year old. But, when the second teeth began erupting, the horse was put in a bosal so the mouth would not be involved. After all the new teeth were in, then the trainer would go to a curb bit of some kind...many ultimately made a spade bit horse. This was considered the highest form of the art of vaquero riding.

The bosal is made of braided rawhide. I had to wrap mine in chamois because my horse was so thin-skinned the roughness of the rawhide would put marks just hanging there. The chamois worked very well.


I know how a bosal works and have used them. Used to trail ride my event horse in one all the time. He had a pretty good "rein" on him for a nearly 17 hand horse, too. LOL But to me, pressure/release means "lost connection" or even, heaven forbid, "behind the vertical" ergo, not dressage. Or am I misconstruing the question?

LMH
Aug. 24, 2007, 07:21 PM
Now we are back to my point of confusion...
One can have a lost connection with a bit so why can't one have a connection with a halter, etc.

Obviously many have already answered...but this is the core of my question.

angel
Aug. 24, 2007, 07:53 PM
The lost connection has more to do with the incorrect weight aids of the rider and/or the loss of balance by the horse...no matter what the vehicle used to stop the shoulder points. A horse behind vertical or with its nose in the air is never in balance. The bit hanger, or the bosal hanger should be vertical with the ground when the horse is in the correct position. By the same token, a horse totally lacking a headstall should have its head such that the line drawn from the poll to the corners of the mouth is vertical. Such a position puts the horse's nose just a hair in front of what we perceive as vertical.

Bluey
Aug. 24, 2007, 08:26 PM
Training in a bosal starts by bending a horse, "doubling" it on the ground, so the horse knows what we want when in the saddle.
The idea is to double a horse watching it's hind feet, so the effect of a little tug here and there on the hackamore is understood to mean to move the hind feet.
Jeez, that sounds like some NH people talk today, but it is much older and done in a different way than the exhuberance NH'ers tend to fall into doing that today.

Just getting on and trying to guide with a bosal is confusing to the horse, unless it is already well trained in the snaffle and knows other aids from the rider.

I think that only in the far West people started horses in the snaffle first, then went to the bosal.
Further East of there, people used to start colts with a lighter bosal, made out of an old grass rope and ride them in that, until the colt was very handy and many went then directly to a curb, a snaffle understood to be more of a farmer's bit.

Later into the start to middle of the 1900's, the traditions got mixed and most started using a snaffle then on colts and for general training.

Here are some of those homemade grass rope nose hackamores, like the ones that Pine Johnson used to train Poco Bueno:

http://render2.snapfish.com/render2/is=Yup6oJl%7C%3Dup6RKKt%3AxxrKUp7BHD7KPfrj%3DQofrj 7t%3DzrRfDUX%3AeQaQxg%3Dr%3F87KR6xqpxQQQ0xJGexGQQx v8uOc5xQQQPeJn0PoQoJqpfVtB%3F*KUp7BHSHqqy7XH6gXPPG %7CRup6JaQ%7C/of=50,227,443

You don't keep contact with them, they are used to indicate to the horse to pay attention with the barest touch of the reins, eventually.
The horses learn self carriage, so they can be responsive and athletic without you having to keep holding them up with contact as a fifth foot, light as it may be.
Works well to ride like that to work cattle.
There are no cattle to stay with in a dressage arena, so you can take your time balancing and helping a horse along thru the movements with that contact, all the time.:)

monstrpony
Aug. 24, 2007, 09:42 PM
You don't keep contact with them, they are used to indicate to the horse to pay attention with the barest touch of the reins, eventually.
The horses learn self carriage, so they can be responsive and athletic without you having to keep holding them up with contact as a fifth foot, light as it may be.


To me, this is the same as the connection that the dressage folks believe you can't have without a bit. The connection in this type of riding is more mental, more by a feel established between the horse and rider, as well as through the seat, legs and use of a weight-of-rein contact. I believe this is equivalent to the quality of connection established between an upper level dressage horse and rider, even though the physical quality of the contact is different. This is why I believe that contact/connection can be established without the use of a bit--or with a more stubstantial bit, such as a spade (with a much lighter touch, of course). When developed correctly, most of the same philosophical underpinnings exist between the horse and rider. The goal of athletic and intellectual development of the horse is essentially the same.

angel
Aug. 24, 2007, 10:05 PM
Never did I ever "double" a horse. That is plain and simple wrong!!!! :eek: You start a hackmore horse in a snaffle, just as you would any dressage horse.:yes:

Bluey
Aug. 24, 2007, 10:16 PM
Never did I ever "double" a horse. That is plain and simple wrong!!!! :eek: You start a hackmore horse in a snaffle, just as you would any dressage horse.:yes:

It is not "wrong", but a different style of training, the californio vaquero, going for a horse "in the bridle" eventually, or a working cowboy just getting the job done, be it on the range or in a rodeo or cutting pen.
It is my understanding that even some of the older californios were bosal first trainers, not all started with a snaffle, or not every colt.

It is not wrong, everyone around here used our grass rope hackamores and some made plenty of world champion cutting/roping horses with it.
Some of them here would look at spade bits like :eek: too.
What counts is not the tool, but how you apply it.:)
Works either way, as long as the rider knows what they are doing.:yes:

You may hot have learned to double a horse with a hackamore, but if so, you are winging it when you use one and getting by, since your horse is already trained with a snaffle.
I have seen some of those top californio vaqueros double their horses with snaffles also, just as they did with hackamores.
The idea is to limber a horse up from the ground, before stepping up, get it to pay attention to moving right, gather itself, before the extra weight settles on it's back.
It neve hurts to learn ALL you can, then use what you want of what you learn.:yes:

QLD
Aug. 24, 2007, 10:31 PM
But...

No where in this argument do I see the discussion about 'chewing' or 'acceptance of the bit'.

A bosal can set a horses head in a certain position, but that does not necessary denote throughness.

A neck rope shortens the circle of energy further.

It is the connection of the leg through the back to the hand that creates the muscular connection through the horses back to his jaw, that allows the rider to raise or lower the head from the leg and seat aids. Without it, we are simply encouraging..."a frame".

angel
Aug. 24, 2007, 10:48 PM
You don't need the horse to chew to get the mouth response that you need. If the horse is worked properly without a bit, you will see a little foam develop along the sides of the mouth, just as you would a bit. The reason is that the head is in the position to slightly hold the salivary glands open...which is what is happening when a horse chews. See my previous post about correct head position for this to happen. You cannot get the correct head position within correct contact of any kind without correct straightness and longitudinal bending.

Red Barn
Aug. 24, 2007, 10:50 PM
But...

No where in this argument do I see the discussion about 'chewing' or 'acceptance of the bit'.

A bosal can set a horses head in a certain position, but that does not necessary denote throughness.

A neck rope shortens the circle of energy further.

It is the connection of the leg through the back to the hand that creates the muscular connection through the horses back to his jaw, that allows the rider to raise or lower the head from the leg and seat aids. Without it, we are simply encouraging..."a frame".


I agree absolutely.

Seems like the whole "bitless" issue has been tossed around quite a bit on various threads lately, but it's exactly this point that isn't addressed by the no-bit faction.

I wonder why?

LMH
Aug. 24, 2007, 11:24 PM
OK I have always been told ask simple questions.

What is it about chewing that shows acceptance of the bit? My logic says a quiet mouth shows acceptance?

Red Barn
Aug. 24, 2007, 11:40 PM
LMH, I'm not sure "chewing" itself is really the issue . . .

I think the whole question revolves around the kind of genuine communication that can be achieved through various methods, and via various kinds of tack.

I don't just want to enforce a "frame." I want direct access to the information the horse gives me through the bit. I want to influence him, yes, but in the context of a real "conversation," and this requires equipment that can transmit very subtle messages, both from him to me, and me to him.

Does that make sense?

kansasgal
Aug. 25, 2007, 12:26 AM
Hello and best wishes from Kansas,
Well, I am wondering what ever happened to the idea of "basic training" for a horse.
It seems that not too long ago, ( maybe 40 years? ) all training started with the basics and later the horse went into a "specialty". Some horses made it all the way to "high school" training, which would be the rough equivalent to dressage.. Most horses were started with a sidepull or lunge cavesson, first being taught to lunge, then progressing to ground driving. And then going on to work under saddle.
At first the horse would "practice" wearing a bit, hang out in his stall, be lunged/ driven while wearing it, but with the line stilll attached to the cavesson. The horse learned to carry the bit with a quiet mouth. Contact was introduced in a very gradual way. That was basic training for a horse who would then go on to specialize in whatever discipline.....

Adding the bit refines the communication that is required for dressage, but IMO a well trained horse should be able to be ridden basic W-T-C without one.

As to the idea of softly chewing being a sign of acceptance of the bit, that makes sense. There's an obvious difference between softly chewing and snatching..... the undesireable opposite....
I started in the hunter world, where I was taught that the noseband was just for looks, and should be left loose. I think that that is the only way to really know if your horse is truly accepting of the bit. I hate the idea of a crank noseband, or horses that won't/ can't go with a quiet mouth unless the noseband it super tight. I feel like that's just a way to cover up a hole in basic training.....

But keep in mind I'm just an old pleasure/ basic dressage rider..... who has read a ton and watched a LOT and taken lots of lessons on a variety of horses over the years.

One last thing about contact that I haven't read from anyone on this board.... and I think is a pretty good explanation of how Western horses are trained....
In Susan Harris's book, Conformation, Balance and Movement, she talks about the difference in training in Western disciplines vs English. She explains that Western horses are taught to stay "off" the bit. They learn to respond to signals from the reins, but to stay off contact. That explains the variety of Western bits that are so different from English.

Thanks for your post and best wishes.

Bluey
Aug. 25, 2007, 07:45 AM
This same question is being asked in Dressage magazine, that arrived yesterday and the answer is interesting.:)

monstrpony
Aug. 25, 2007, 08:10 AM
LMH, I'm not sure "chewing" itself is really the issue . . .

I think the whole question revolves around the kind of genuine communication that can be achieved through various methods, and via various kinds of tack.

I don't just want to enforce a "frame." I want direct access to the information the horse gives me through the bit. I want to influence him, yes, but in the context of a real "conversation," and this requires equipment that can transmit very subtle messages, both from him to me, and me to him.

Does that make sense?


Sure it makes sense. And while the no-bit faction hasn't addressed the chewing issue, the bit faction hasn't addressed why a snaffle or double is the only way this kind of subtle communication can be achieved.

I have a horse I've been rehabbing from a very incorrect, inverted, tight-backed style of riding. Recently, my horsemanship mentor, who has taken several horses from foalhood through the spade bit, commented that my rehab horse was starting to relax his topline and become more receptive to proper communication. He said one of his indicators was that the horse was beginning to stretch and chew--while worked at liberty in a round pen, with nothing on his head.

Bluey
Aug. 25, 2007, 09:08 AM
Several studies have shown that a horse chewing while working is a sign of tension.
It can be chewing wile tense or when relaxing that tension, or just being in a stressful (remember that stress doesn't has to mean "bad") situation, similar to a person chewing on it's bottom lip when thinking hard.

When a horse is working happily along, without tension, it doesn't chew.

It is not so easy to determine why a horse is chewing at any one time, nor so easy to dismiss it as release or "giving in", as I have heard it also.

QLD
Aug. 25, 2007, 09:12 AM
The "chewing" is not a noisy slobbery chewing, but rather a quiet 'mouthing' of the bit, that produces the 'lipstick', a sign of a relaxed jaw.

The chewing you see going on in a bosal is different than the chewing when the horse has the bit in his mouth. The chewing in the bosal is similar to the chewing that you see at liberty when you round pen a horse. It is true that it is a sign of submission and relaxation, but it just happens from natural relaxation of the mind, jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles.

Chewing when the horse has a bit in the mouth is more difficult to achieve, as now you have placed a bit in his mouth, and asked him to yield/relax with a foreign object in there. In other words, the horse has now developed enough trust in the rider to not only demonstrate the acceptance of this 'foreign object' in his mouth, as well as he is comfortable enough to take the power of the hind quarter, and push forward into the bit. In other words, it is a more true and complete form of submission.

The bosal takes away this added degree of trust, and simply asks the horse to submit to a frame through a more easily accepted type of pressure, not to the bit itself. Which is why there are so many horses who never learn to accept the bit, but easily yield to bitless riding.

angel
Aug. 25, 2007, 09:55 AM
Spoken as someone who has never used a bosal!:yes:

Sithly
Aug. 25, 2007, 10:06 AM
To me, this is the same as the connection that the dressage folks believe you can't have without a bit. The connection in this type of riding is more mental, more by a feel established between the horse and rider, as well as through the seat, legs and use of a weight-of-rein contact. I believe this is equivalent to the quality of connection established between an upper level dressage horse and rider, even though the physical quality of the contact is different. This is why I believe that contact/connection can be established without the use of a bit--or with a more stubstantial bit, such as a spade (with a much lighter touch, of course). When developed correctly, most of the same philosophical underpinnings exist between the horse and rider. The goal of athletic and intellectual development of the horse is essentially the same.

This is one of the best theories on contact I've ever read.

Kathy Johnson
Aug. 25, 2007, 10:31 AM
A perfectly quiet mouth is a dead mouth. A good mouth softly chews in response to the snaffle. As we bring the horse up through the levels of dressage, he learns acceptance of the bridle on many levels. He learns the effects of the snaffle are three dimensional. He does not graduate to a curb bit alone the way a vaquero bridle horse does. The double bridle continues to encompass the three dimensional effects of the snaffle, as well as the refining and finishing effects of the curb.

When we work a dressage horse in hand in a snaffle (usually in the more French schools), we teach him that each side of his tongue belongs to each hand, and more specifically to the ring finger on that hand. With the gentle pulsing of the ring finger on the right hand making a connection with the right side of the tongue in any of the directions, the horse moves the tongue. Ideally the tongue is mobilized BEFORE the jaw or the poll. Ideally the horse does not gape his mouth or stick his tongue out but merely licks the bit. When the horse shows this feather light tongue to finger connection, then the rider is able to soften the jaw or poll and activate the salivary glands.

Although some of the effects are similar to the work in bitless riding, the tongue to finger connection is impossible without a bit. Riding without a bit would be missing a very important step in preparing a horse for the upper levels and true collection in upper level dressage. I understand many disciplines use the word collection differently, and that brings about many of our misunderstandings. A top western pleasure horse is said to be collected, a sliding reining horse is said to be collected, but semantically, I am talking about collection according to the dressage training scale where it reigns at the top.

For instance:


To me, this is the same as the connection that the dressage folks believe you can't have without a bit. The connection in this type of riding is more mental, more by a feel established between the horse and rider, as well as through the seat, legs and use of a weight-of-rein contact. I believe this is equivalent to the quality of connection established between an upper level dressage horse and rider, even though the physical quality of the contact is different. This is why I believe that contact/connection can be established without the use of a bit--or with a more stubstantial bit, such as a spade (with a much lighter touch, of course). When developed correctly, most of the same philosophical underpinnings exist between the horse and rider. The goal of athletic and intellectual development of the horse is essentially the same.

This is connection, not collection. And yes, dressage riders, and all riders, want this type of connection. Connection must exist before collection, but not as the be-all and end-all. It is a step in establishing collection.

That said, although my upper level horse can go very easily without a bit, it is a result of correct work in the snaffle and his work in hand, not because I trained him first without a bit. And although it is fun and interesting for me, the pressure on the bridge of his nose or with a neck rope is more severe to him than the action of the bit. The bridge of the nose is quite sensitive for many horses, and a neck rope goes right around the windpipe, so bosals, hackamores, sidepulls, rope halters and neckropes are more severe than most people imagine, and often more severe than a bit.

Most well schooled horses can be ridden bridleless without anything on their heads because they are conditioned to the weight and the leg. Again, this is a fun exercise, but it does not lead the horse up the ladder to the acceptance of the snaffle necessary for finger-tip collection.

Dalfan
Aug. 25, 2007, 10:43 AM
When a horse is working happily along, without tension, it doesn't chew.

:eek::confused::no:

slc2
Aug. 25, 2007, 10:50 AM
i think a bit is necessary, not just contact, to get a high quality dressage performance and to have the energy really recycled properly from back to front and back again. not that i am in love with everything baucher wrote, but he was right about one thing. you have to have the whole horse, not just a part of him. and that means you have to supple the mouth, that is from the bit, and that is the smallest range of motion in the whole assembly; that is where the refinement comes from, the smallest component. this is where the really refined schooling comes from.

the best way to get a stiff horse is to take the bit out of his mouth.

the mouth is not being worked and that is what makes the stiff horse.

lol...of course the NEXT best way to have a stiff horse is to misuse the bit, but that's another story.

even the californios who were expert with the bosal put the bit in the mouth when they got too bracy in the bosal. the californios and every other expert with the bosal used it as the beginning stage in the schooling of the horse; they were going to the bit to complete the training and to supple the horse everywhere....it is pretty much the same in any sort of riding; anyone who uses any type of caveson, noseband or other apparatus always uses it as a stepping tstone to the bit. even the most experienced people did not think the bosal or other piece of equipment was the be all and end all. it is only on the bulletin board, where the bosal is the end of the training.

horselips
Aug. 25, 2007, 11:35 AM
You can ride with contact that is not bit-oriented contact.

Both of the horses I have now, I have trained to go in light contact be it a bit in the mouth, or pressure on the nose. This is because I ride back to front into the bridle, and reins are more of a guide to my horses. The nose does not get numb, because the contact is very light.

Sometimes I've let people ride them who are familiar with "standard dressage-with-bit-contact", and I tell them just ride him as you would as if it was a bit - but make sure your contact is light, they have no problems, and most are a little amazed that a horse can go that way without a bit.


IMO, this would not be ideal for someone who is use to riding a strong contact with their horse - mine will object to heavy hands on their noses.

angel
Aug. 25, 2007, 12:55 PM
"He does not graduate to a curb bit alone the way a vaquero bridle horse does.".....

Might as well since so many people are hanging on the curb reins of a double bridle for much of their rides.;)

monstrpony
Aug. 25, 2007, 06:02 PM
even the californios who were expert with the bosal put the bit in the mouth when they got too bracy in the bosal.
Umm, no. They go back to basics and get rid of the brace. It's the mark of a unrefined vaquero if a brace is created while the horse is in the bosal (not that there aren't plenty to whom it happens; few riders make it to GP on the first try). But you fix it by improving your riding, not by resorting to a bit. Unless you really screwed up ...

the californios and every other expert with the bosal used it as the beginning stage in the schooling of the horse; they were going to the bit to complete the training and to supple the horse everywhere
Um, not entirely. The suppling is pretty much established before the bridle bit is introduced. And it's finished in the two-rein; by the time a horse is straight up in the bridle, you can bet the kinks are pretty well worked out of the schooling steps.

It is true that some feel a horse can be made dull if they spend too much time in the bosal. That would be similar to taking a horse that is physically and mentally capable of reaching GP and keeping it at second level for a prolonged period of time; chances are good the horse would not reach it's full potential in a timely fashion. And it probably would become dull, but not soley because it was being ridden with a snaffle ;).

....it is pretty much the same in any sort of riding; anyone who uses any type of caveson, noseband or other apparatus always uses it as a stepping tstone to the bit. even the most experienced people did not think the bosal or other piece of equipment was the be all and end all. it is only on the bulletin board, where the bosal is the end of the training.

Granted, the training isn't finished in the bosal; I don't think anyone here is implying such. But are you suggesting that there is NO connection established before the bridle bit is introduced at the two-rein?

To Kathy J:
The delicate connection between the ring finger and the horse's tongue is all well and good, but a good vaquero makes the connection all the way from the riders mind, through the reins (and seat and leg, of course) to the horse's feet :winkgrin:.

Kathy Johnson
Aug. 25, 2007, 06:27 PM
To Kathy J:
The delicate connection between the ring finger and the horse's tongue is all well and good, but a good vaquero makes the connection all the way from the riders mind, through the reins (and seat and leg, of course) to the horse's feet

We have that too--that is the connection, not the collection. To quote slc, you have to have the whole horse, not just a part of him. One of the differences with most forms of western riding, including vaquero, due a great deal to the build of the saddle, is that the rider's legs are too far from the horse's sides, and the rider can not get the instantaneous reaction for collection they can if their legs lie flat on the horse's sides the way they should in a dressage saddle. Then come the bigger roweled spurs (not that some dressage riders don't have those too) but not the immediate timing of the aids required to control the hind legs for collection, in the dressage sense. It's a different sport and a different kind of collection, although vaquero crosses over better than most of the other disciplines who use the term collection. I've heard the term "collection" used in every discipline from saddle seat to natural horsemanship to western pleasure to hunt seat. Dressage riders use it in a different way. It is not the same and it causes a lot of confusion.


Might as well since so many people are hanging on the curb reins of a double bridle for much of their rides. Lol. That's the misuse of the bit. I've been saying for awhile we might as well get rein converters for our doubles, the way we have them for pelhams. Anyway, not I!

MyReality
Aug. 25, 2007, 07:51 PM
I think KJ and SLC explained it very well.

I encourage those people who do not use a bit to consider showing photos of their ride, and illustrate how dressage ideals can be achieved without a bit.

I interpret connection as full contact from seat and leg to hand. A horse offers his back to you, he sides stay close to your leg. Have you ever feel that after suppling and straightening work, and I notice especially after counter canter, I feel like there is "more horse to sit on". On the same token, he quietly hold the bit in his mouth... from head to tail, every bit of him is available to the rider. He is not backing away from any contact, he is just there, everywhere, with confidence and full approval, it's pure harmony.

In the beginning, in order for the horse to learn mechanically how to move correctly, a bit offers blocking, much like any bridle. Then as the horse's education progress, his reflexes are so correctly formed that will make a bit almost unnecessary. But in between, bit offers great fine tunning... activating the horse in many dimensions.

And I don't understand what the fuss about not using a bit. Most bitless are very crude single dimensional tool... e.g. most work on applying pressure on the same place on the nose. That's why there is these NEW and improved bitless bridle that work on more parts of the horse's head. To supplement a halter's effectiveness, Paralli even invents hitting the horse jaw with the metal clasp. Wouldn't you start to question how refined is that? How complete is that tool?

If a bit is useless to you, it just means a combinations of things: rider don't know how to use one or have bad riding position, horse has teeth/mouth problem that cannot be fixed, or not diagnosed, or horse is reactive and unsafe with a bit due to bad history.

For one last time, please for goodness sake, stop using western disciplines as reference. We are completely different disciplines. I never refer to them, one way or the other. I never say they are great, or do I ever ever say they are bad. Stop comparing the two, please!

monstrpony
Aug. 25, 2007, 10:17 PM
Remember, once again, the original post asks for dressage folks to offer input on whether it is possible to have contact, connection and then collection with non-bit devices (three distinct pieces--contact, connection, collection; the terms are not interchangable). It does not ask to compare disciplines, nor does it specify a particular style of non-bit device (other than some examples).

The discipline discussions arise from folks who have some experience in other disciplines, and believe that contact, connection and a form of collection are possible within those disciplines (which frequently use some of the devices in question).

It looks to me as though there is some agreement that a type of contact is possible, and a type of connection, but there is also considerable sentiment that the dressage interpretation of collection is not possible without a dressage foundation that includes a very specific type of conact and connection that is probably not attainable through other disciplines and/or devices.

For me, I'd be a lot more convinced if I could hear the arguments from the dressage side from someone who clearly and thoroughly (and experientially) understands the other disciplines; many of the remarks here reveal definite misunderstandings of other disciplines that stand in the way of a convincing argument that collection is not possible outside of dressage. But this last statement is JMHO.

I don't see how anyone can watch Buck Brannaman ride one of his bridle horse and question the quality of the contact, connection or even the collection (or his position in the saddle or his use of aids). Buck is a very rare bird; he's not your average Joe, and there are a vast number of wannabes out there who give the vaquero tradition a bad name. But the question isn't what is average; it's what is possible. Buck proves to me that it is possible to start a horse in a snaffle, then a bosal, then the two-rein and finally in a bridle bit, and create and preserve quality contact, connection and collection. It doesn't mean I can do it, or that the OP could do it, or certainly not that Pat or Linda Parelli do or even are capable of doing it (and in fact, I'm pretty confident they're not). But it makes me pretty darned sure it is possible.

Red Barn
Aug. 25, 2007, 11:03 PM
It's probably "possible" to perform triple by-pass surgery with a butter knife and a dessert fork.

It's just hard to imagine why anybody would feel compelled to try it on a regular basis.

Bluey
Aug. 25, 2007, 11:14 PM
Is it legal to show now without a bit?

Easy to test if it is possible to ride a horse correctly thru a test without a dressage approved bit.
Make legal showing either way.

I believe some may try showing in dressage with certain horses, if that was permitted.

I seem to remember Lynn Palm talking about it long ago, when she was showing Rugged Lark.

These discussions remind me of the ones many years ago, with the french light school and the german heavy one.
Guess who we are following today in the dressage show world?

Kathy Johnson
Aug. 25, 2007, 11:54 PM
For me, I'd be a lot more convinced if I could hear the arguments from the dressage side from someone who clearly and thoroughly (and experientially) understands the other disciplines;

Luis Calderon comes closest to mind, but he would be the first to tell you that doma vaquero is very different from alte esquela.

Sabine
Aug. 26, 2007, 12:01 AM
very good info and conversation- hey I am very impressed that this did go so well- and did not end up becoming personal.

I am only a dressage rider- since childhood- I have admired certain western disciplines and folks I know/knew that ride that way. However I always thought that there was a huge difference in the mindset.

I would compare it to a monarchy and a democracy. You can NOT compare the two. In a functioning monarchy there is a strongly established and known and clear Hierarchy. It works along the lines of listen, put up and shut up.
I liken that to Western riding. It is clear, honest, fair but not negotiable.

Dressage riding to me is a totally different animal. It involves building a relationship with a horse that is more of a 50/50 type approach- a careful nurturing of the horse to understand that he should want to play this game and also that he has a 'valued ' part in it and also that he is a Partner! This means endless training towards understanding and respecting and feeling and connecting. It is by position a very different animal than the best western riding - and for the sake of ease and discussion I will only compare the best of both worlds.


There is no inferiority in these disciplines. They are grand disciplines that have very clear paths to excellence and very clear groundrules.
However in concept these groundrules are not even close to each other and not suitable to be intermingled.

And- coming back to the OP's question- which clearly related only to the equipment of these disciplines: there is no way that you will achieve the level of CONNECTION with a bosal that you will achieve with a bit. (assuming that the horses are superb, well trained by the best and perfectly capable and suited for the job) It is like comparing apples and oranges- the jobs are different- the horses and breeds are different- and I believe if you would like to have a discussion along the lines of these two disciplines- I would start it not with comparing the usual equipment- but rather use photos or videos to compare the levels of throughness and / or what is perceived as throughness in these disciplines...if you are aggressive in comparing you will find that it is like comparing black and white- total wonderful- seamless submission and incredible, very individualized exuberance- magically contained by a BIT!

Bluey
Aug. 26, 2007, 12:09 AM
very good info and conversation- hey I am very impressed that this did go so well- and did not end up becoming personal.

I am only a dressage rider- since childhood- I have admired certain western disciplines and folks I know/knew that ride that way. However I always thought that there was a huge difference in the mindset.

I would compare it to a monarchy and a democracy. You can NOT compare the two. In a functioning monarchy there is a strongly established and known and clear Hierarchy. It works along the lines of listen, put up and shut up.
I liken that to Western riding. It is clear, honest, fair but not negotiable.

Dressage riding to me is a totally different animal. It involves building a relationship with a horse that is more of a 50/50 type approach- a careful nurturing of the horse to understand that he should want to play this game and also that he has a 'valued ' part in it and also that he is a Partner! This means endless training towards understanding and respecting and feeling and connecting. It is by position a very different animal than the best western riding - and for the sake of ease and discussion I will only compare the best of both worlds.


There is no inferiority in these disciplines. They are grand disciplines that have very clear paths to excellence and very clear groundrules.
However in concept these groundrules are not even close to each other and not suitable to be intermingled.

And- coming back to the OP's question- which clearly related only to the equipment of these disciplines: there is no way that you will achieve the level of CONNECTION with a bosal that you will achieve with a bit. (assuming that the horses are superb, well trained by the best and perfectly capable and suited for the job) It is like comparing apples and oranges- the jobs are different- the horses and breeds are different- and I believe if you would like to have a discussion along the lines of these two disciplines- I would start it not with comparing the usual equipment- but rather use photos or videos to compare the levels of throughness and / or what is perceived as throughness in these disciplines...if you are aggressive in comparing you will find that it is like comparing black and white- total wonderful- seamless submission and incredible, very individualized exuberance- magically contained by a BIT!

How strange.:yes:

If you had asked me, I would have said that dressage is to ask a horse to concede and do exactly what we ask of it, with little expression accepted.
A western horse, say, a cutting horse, is all about expression and getting the job done, not as a slave, but completely as a partnership, many times a horse leading, hoping the rider stays out of his way.
The same with a roping horse, that keeps putting you on the spot and you better not keep missing that loop.:lol:

My cowhorses have an opinion and are not afraid to tell me about it.
Some even puff up when I mess up and let me know.:p

Sabine
Aug. 26, 2007, 12:26 AM
How strange.:yes:

If you had asked me, I would have said that dressage is to ask a horse to concede and do exactly what we ask of it, with little expression accepted.
A western horse, say, a cutting horse, is all about expression and getting the job done, not as a slave, but completely as a partnership, many times a horse leading, hoping the rider stays out of his way.
The same with a roping horse, that keeps putting you on the spot and you better not keep missing that loop.:lol:

My cowhorses have an opinion and are not afraid to tell me about it.
Some even puff up when I mess up and let me know.:p

Cool- I don't know cowhorses much other than what I have seen in our very local, manicured rodeo *made fit for the OC*...LOL! I was more speaking of top notch Western Pleasure horses.... and I guess there are worlds between the cutting horses and the WP horses??? right?

LMH
Aug. 26, 2007, 06:02 AM
Actually the idea of photos is excellent.

If anyone has any to share-to compare contrast the level of collection bitted vs. bitless or such it would be great.

monstrpony
Aug. 26, 2007, 07:52 AM
I agree with Bluey on the monarchy/democracy issue. Pretty good evidence of that here in the elitist attitude of the dressage folks; triple bypass with a butterknife, indeed :rolleyes:. And the comment about the German style becomming dominant over the French--hello??

Issues of what's legal to show with are irrelevant in this discussion. The discussion is about development of quality contact, connection and collection, NOT about the quality of dressage test that can be produced. I suppose we will have to concede that other disciplines never develop the degree of collection that GP dressage does. But what about the quality of the collection that the best practitioners in other disciplines DO develop??

Kathy J--again, no one is arguing that the disciplines are not different; the question is about the quality of contact, connection and collection. Would Luis Calderon simply roll over and concede that that tradition is busy "doing triple bypass with a butterknife", abusively dominating their horses to no productive purpose other than prematurely crippling them? No? I didn't think so ...

Bluey
Aug. 26, 2007, 08:06 AM
Actually the idea of photos is excellent.

If anyone has any to share-to compare contrast the level of collection bitted vs. bitless or such it would be great.

I would say that to have a meaningful discussion, we need to define what we mean by collection and then see if that definition will accept the times there is not a bit involved.

I would say that it is obvious all over the place that horses can work with a generic collection with and without bits.

I would think that maybe you are thinking about collection in a specific place and task, the dressage test and there you may require a bit for that kind of collection effort, under those parameters, the horse in that kind of frame.
I would suggest that there can be collection without it painting that specific picture.

I would say that, in general, a dressage movement of pirouette demands collection and so does a reining spin, even if one can be easier done with a bit to guide and the other is asking the horse to do it without any help from a bit, is done regularly with a loose rein and can be done without a anything on the horse's front, as here and the picture then be that of a horse in a different looking frame, the front not elevated, the head not on the vertical of a hair in front of it, but the whole horse working as collected and with extensions as needed, coming over it's back just the same.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZIYM76mYag&mode=related&search=

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7GyxQVboto&NR=1

The collection and self carriage is obvious in both when done right, even if in different movement types.

We could say that the maximun degree of collection and selfcarriage in dressage is in levade, when there is no forward movement at all as a result of that collection.
There we don't really use the bit we have connecting us to the horse, not even in the lightest supporting role.

Then, levades are not required in today's dressage tests.

If you watch a cutting horse, it may seem odd to you how classically impure the gaits may be, but that horse is working with utmost collection, coming over his back to the front, to handle his body and the rider's weight in space, just as any dressage horse is in piaffe, when performed right.

To say that only with a bit, or only in the confines of dressage training and showing with a bit we can find proper collection may be a little like saying only classical music is the correct music, because of some of it's structures and that jazz can't approximate that and be called "proper" music.

Clearer definitions will give us more to go by, before we can go furhter with this.

Sithly
Aug. 26, 2007, 09:39 PM
This is a really interesting discussion! I'm learning a lot from you guys!


Issues of what's legal to show with are irrelevant in this discussion. The discussion is about development of quality contact, connection and collection, NOT about the quality of dressage test that can be produced. I suppose we will have to concede that other disciplines never develop the degree of collection that GP dressage does. But what about the quality of the collection that the best practitioners in other disciplines DO develop??


In my opinion, the intended USE of collection should somehow come into play when you define it, or the comparison is not fair to either side. Different disciplines have different requirements, and also differently conformed horses.

Some dressage riders think they have found the One True Collection, and that all other disciplines have false collection. I think that's BS. Most disciplines have (somewhat) similar ideals, but different expressions and degrees of collection. The type of collection a dressage horse displays would not be ideal for a cutting horse, and vice versa. That doesn't make one holy and the other heresy.

Each discipline uses the word "collection" to describe the horse's ideal state of balance to perform to the best of his ability within his discipline. Wrong or right, that's how the word is used. Ask a top trainer in each discipline about collection, and you'll get similar theories with vastly different executions -- but all will describe their specific form of collection and how it relates to function at the top levels.

Also, with today's highly specialized horses, it's also important to note that each discipline emphasizes a different extreme. With some sports, it's extreme maneuverability. Other disciplines emphasize extreme speed or extreme jumping height ... whatever. Most disciplines use collection as a means to an end.

Dressage is unique in that collection is the means and the end. Collection IS the extreme. Now that is pretty cool, IMO. :D Still not an excuse to feel superior, though, because the extreme example of dressage collection would get you laughed right out of a cutting pen. And if you swapped out a top GP horse with a top cutting horse, they'd probably be equally good at doing the other's job (or bad, depending on how you look at it, lol). So there's really no reason for disdain on either side (and yes, it definitely goes both ways).

Anyway, it's apples and oranges. I think a lot of the disagreement comes over the natural and inevitable evolution of the language and the definition of the word "collection."

Times, they are a-changin'.

Red Barn
Aug. 26, 2007, 10:02 PM
Wow.

If you guys would describe the horse in the first video as working in "collection," then I guess we must be defining our terms in TOTALLY different ways.

And if you think the dressage definition of "collection" is all hogwash, then why on earth do you use the word at all? And post on the dressage forum?

Why not make up some snappy new words of your own?

Sithly
Aug. 26, 2007, 10:22 PM
Wow.

If you guys would describe the horse in the first video as working in "collection," then I guess we must be defining our terms in TOTALLY different ways.

And if you think the dressage definition of "collection" is all hogwash, then why on earth do you use the word at all? And post on the dressage forum?

Why not make up some snappy new words of your own?

Haaah. Okay.

First off, I'm all for bits. Bits are great. I think you can get a certain level of refinement with a bit that you cannot get (as easily) with other methods.

I am, in general, against riding bridleless except as a fun exercise or exhibition or whatever. That's because IMO, without a bridle, you can only ask for correct collection and hope the horse does it -- if the horse says "no thanks," you can't reinforce it and make it happen. I think this is very evident in the first video. The horse's spins are pretty bad, for example, and his rollbacks are not the greatest.

Secondly, I don't think the dressage definition of collection is hogwash, or anything remotely like that. I think it's the theoretical basis for collection in all disciplines. I'm just saying that dressage is a specialized, extreme sport, and like all other specialized, extreme sports, you will encounter major differences in form and function if you attempt to use the ideals of one sport as absolute truth for all other sports.

---

ETA: I totally understand wanting to keep the definition of collection "pure," so to speak. I'd like to do that with a lot of different words. Like if "NH" didn't conjure up images of stick-waving, kool-aid-drinking fanatics? That would be great.

Sabine
Aug. 26, 2007, 10:33 PM
A couple of thoughts come to mind.
First vid posted of the bridle less horse doing reining work with Stacy riding. Very nice training work- very different principles of what is considered good- and definitely very different elements we dressage people are looking for:

most important observations that come to mind:

1. define contact- if you are talking about leg/seat/ etc- in other words - rewording it to rider impact- then this video is ok. Othewise it doesn't contribute to the discussion- because there is no contact other than the riders seat and leg aids.
2. rythmn of foot falls. If you liken reining to dressage you ignore some of the most basic dressage principles: rythmn and regularity. There is none of that in reining- therefore the horse is constantly on some kind of extreme patrol- because it anticipates a sharp command that will completely change it's rythmn and way of moving- from rapid gallop to halt from halt to fast reinback etc. Horses that are trained to respond like this and are shown like this- do not know the balance- rythmn and harmony a dressage test in comparison offers. It is a completely different world- and I believe although all parties here have been trying in a positive and respectful way- it is completely useless to try and compare apples and oranges.

It might be well true that a great western trainer can train a great western horse with a bonsal from scratch and do amazing work. I do not know about the details- nor do I really care.

I do know that I can not train a 18hd warmblood horse with a bonsal- and I do know that the reactions, the physical layout of the body, the size and the potential as far as gaits are concerned are completely different- not better or worse - just truly 2 worlds waaayyy apart from each other.

I can say that with confidence - because I did get to ride a World Champion reining horse that belonged to a friend of mine on occasion.
I was completely blown away by the finesse of seat aids this horse responded to and how little it took to make him do spins. But he didn't like consistent contact- it actually bothered him...he wanted reminders- but then be left alone...he didn't want to have a conversation with the hand...that was not what he knew.

Bluey
Aug. 26, 2007, 11:07 PM
Wow.

If you guys would describe the horse in the first video as working in "collection," then I guess we must be defining our terms in TOTALLY different ways.

And if you think the dressage definition of "collection" is all hogwash, then why on earth do you use the word at all? And post on the dressage forum?

Why not make up some snappy new words of your own?

No, it is not working in collection as in a dressage test, that's right.
It is working in control and from the back and over to the front, in a kind of self carriage, although the gaits are not pure, because those technical points are not considered in reining, horses are judged with other parameters than in dressage classes and many don't know to train for it, yet.

As more people are coming from different disciplines, you will find changes in all, I expect.

I agree with you, reining in some ways, makes me wince also.;)

As fow why we are posting comparations with some other disciplines than dressage on a dressage forum, well, I didn't know we were not supposed to do that here, when it was brought up.:confused:

Your loss, if you won't learn about other, no matter how irrelevant it may seem today from where you are.
Remember, information is never wasted, even if it may seem too esoteric to the matter at hand.:yes:

MyReality
Aug. 26, 2007, 11:16 PM
We're on a dressage forum so why are we entering a discussion of what collection means in other disciplines? I don't go to a reining forum, and show them videos of Lars.

There are many dressage greats that have educated many on what collection is. I am not going to pretend I can define collection. But at the core of it, is elevation of forehand and energy is redirected upwards so at the end there is greater freedom, greater expression etc.. Of course there is more sit on the haunches, but you still maintain the rhythm, roundness, the throughness, the forwardness, and the swing.

The horse in the video is not in collection because he is flat, there is no elevation of his forehand, there is no jump in his gait. The did not demonstrate suppleness, or throughness or swing. There is no bend or flexion, etc.

I understand the sentiment that posters feel there should be different definition of collection. My answer is yes and no, there may be a hint of similarity, but we differ a great deal what it involves, how we get there, and the more superficial presentation aspect of it. It's highly unlikely I would ever refer to a reiner's definition of collection, or vice versa.

Let me check... yes I am still on Dressage forum. People sometimes ask about flying lead change in the hunter forum, I never respond with my big theories.

However he is a great horse, and does his job wonderfully. He looks very smart and very well trained.

Sithly
Aug. 26, 2007, 11:35 PM
We're on a dressage forum so why are we entering a discussion of what collection means in other disciplines? I don't go to a reining forum, and show them videos of Lars.

Because the question was about bitless bridles, bosals, and sidepulls. They are very rarely seen on dressage horses but see plenty of use in other disciplines. Lots of posters have chimed in with observations about the connection/contact they have seen or experienced with these devices, which quite naturally led to a discussion of the quality and purpose of that connection and how it does/doesn't relate to dressage.

Sabine
Aug. 26, 2007, 11:56 PM
I hope this stays very civil- I think having theoretical thoughts about why we do what we do is always very educational and helpful- if only to verify and explain the course of action we take- either in bitless/bridleless or standard bridle/bit riding and training.

I think contact in dressage is in my mind: an ongoing conversation between the hand and the horses' mouth- that is friendly and forward and supportive and trusting- producing relaxation in the horse's topline and neck thus allowing the circle of energy to close and circulate- and harmony and balance and rythmn and regularity to take over the picture.....

none of this I have experienced riding this very well trained Western horse.

Bluey
Aug. 27, 2007, 12:13 AM
I hope this stays very civil- I think having theoretical thoughts about why we do what we do is always very educational and helpful- if only to verify and explain the course of action we take- either in bitless/bridleless or standard bridle/bit riding and training.

I think contact in dressage is in my mind: an ongoing conversation between the hand and the horses' mouth- that is friendly and forward and supportive and trusting- producing relaxation in the horse's topline and neck thus allowing the circle of energy to close and circulate- and harmony and balance and rythmn and regularity to take over the picture.....

none of this I have experienced riding this very well trained Western horse.

I have started colts and ridden jumpers, dressage horses, endurance, race horses and western horses and all will ride for us in the way that what we are doing with them demands

Not all are ridden with the same kind and degree of contact or any other of the aids, at all, but with all you are carrying a conversation all the time and can enjoy it for what it is.

I don't expect or want the same kind of contact breezing a race colt as riding a serpentine or chasing a cow down a canyon, but all are working with whatever degree of collection as the horse is trained for, is physically able to achieve and the situation demands.

The specific aim in a dressage test is that, very specific to that situation, but I don't think that it is by all means the only time a horse can be said to work properly collected and that contact is necessary at all times.

That is why I was asking for a more clear definition, hoping that definition will be able to narrow collection to be only what a dressage horse achieves while training for and performing in a dressage test and excluding all other.:)

Sabine
Aug. 27, 2007, 01:07 AM
Trying to go with you Bluey...collection sustained to me needs contact- but of course I can collect my horse just with my seat in a step or two- he'll come back and fold under a tad more- and raises the front- becomes light in the hand and somewhat shortens the stride while coming under in the rear- raising the fore....I can sometimes maintain this for a couple of steps or more and create a light- compact package- a great feel- but after a few steps- I do like the feel in the hand and the conversation...hands are maybe 30% compared to seat and weight/leg aids- but they are still there....and I'd miss them...it would feel somehow false to me...:(.....I guess I am just used to my way....

Bluey
Aug. 27, 2007, 06:23 AM
Trying to go with you Bluey...collection sustained to me needs contact- but of course I can collect my horse just with my seat in a step or two- he'll come back and fold under a tad more- and raises the front- becomes light in the hand and somewhat shortens the stride while coming under in the rear- raising the fore....I can sometimes maintain this for a couple of steps or more and create a light- compact package- a great feel- but after a few steps- I do like the feel in the hand and the conversation...hands are maybe 30% compared to seat and weight/leg aids- but they are still there....and I'd miss them...it would feel somehow false to me...:(.....I guess I am just used to my way....

Yes, splitting hairs, that is what we are doing.

What we here understand as contact and collection is best demonstrated when facilitated by a bit, it is the definition in dressage as we understand it.

If you know how to put a horse on the bit, if you have learned the feel you are after when a horse is working in self carriage, you will automatically search for it every time you ride, no matter what kind of horse you ride, in what discipline and with what bit or no bit.
Why? Because it is the best, most efficient way for a horse to move under you.
You will also get it much of the time, as much as the horse is ready to give it to you, in any circumstance, because such is more than just receiving that energy into your hand.

To do so thru a bit makes it easy to most horses and riders while learning, I think.
That is why today most people training in any discipline, yes, even western, use a snaffle, although most don't use that snaffle the same way as in dressage and, closing the circle of thought, to do it here and with a bit is understood to be the standard.

Red Barn
Aug. 27, 2007, 06:51 AM
I grew up in H/J, and only began to study dressage as an adult. For a couple of years I earned my dressage lessons by teaching jumping in a barn where students had pretty solid dressage basics before branching out into huntseat riding as a sideline.

I figured out pretty quickly that I had to have separate vocabularies to describe the mechanics of the two sports, or utter confusion would surely result!

I never used the word "collection" for instance, in teaching a dressage kid to jump correctly . If a horse looked strung out and sloppy, I might say he looked "disorganized." I'd suggest that the student "regroup" or "pull him together a bit," rather than "collect" him.

This helped both the students and me to keep the two disciplines distinct and separate in our minds.

I don't think its a question of making one sport SUPERIOR to another, but I do think it is important to repect each discipline enough to describe its essential principles in clear and concise language.

LMH
Aug. 27, 2007, 07:05 AM
Why are we talking about this on a dressage forum? Because it is my question and I posted it here.

There is no fee is there or membership question to post here is there?

If so I apologize and will ask the thread to be deleted.

Since some feel I have caused a small crime by asking a question about contact, etc from a dressage perspective on a dressage forum, would you all please suggest a better place to post this?

Should I post the following on the Breeding Forum:

I am interested in a dressage perspective on bitless contact? Does that make more sense?

To the REST of the world, thank you very very much for your responses. This thread has been very interesting for me.:)

J Lav
Aug. 27, 2007, 07:08 AM
I am currently riding my Advanced Medium (3rd level) horse in a simple english hackamore due to some problems in his mouth. He has always been trained in a snaffle or double bridle and this is the first time he has had a hackamore on. I've been using it for 2 weeks and was amazed to find that he feels exactly the same as he does in a bit. The amount of contact and feel down the reins is the same. The half halts go through in the same way and he responds to subtle requests for flexion the same. If somebody had put me on the horse blindfold and told me to start riding I would have no idea that he wasn't in his usual bridle. I have never had this feel in a hackamore before but I have never ridden a horse schooled to this level in one before either.

LMH
Aug. 27, 2007, 07:19 AM
I am currently riding my Advanced Medium (3rd level) horse in a simple english hackamore due to some problems in his mouth. He has always been trained in a snaffle or double bridle and this is the first time he has had a hackamore on. I've been using it for 2 weeks and was amazed to find that he feels exactly the same as he does in a bit. The amount of contact and feel down the reins is the same. The half halts go through in the same way and he responds to subtle requests for flexion the same. If somebody had put me on the horse blindfold and told me to start riding I would have no idea that he wasn't in his usual bridle. I have never had this feel in a hackamore before but I have never ridden a horse schooled to this level in one before either.

Great feedback...so the question becomes does he does this in a hack because he already knew it or could you have gotten there with a hack and then had a better more finessed feeling with a bridle...

Interesting.

J Lav
Aug. 27, 2007, 08:02 AM
LMH that, unfortunately, is something we'll never know.

It would be interesting for some of the other posters on here who have dressage horses to try riding their horses in a bitless bridle to see if they feel the same way.

I'm going to put mine back in his snaffle tomorrow as his mouth is better now and it will be interesting to see how he goes.

I've also been riding out in the hackamore and my horse can get rather strong and excitable out especially if he thinks we're going for a gallop. However I found him better and more relaxed in the hackamore so will always use it for hacking from now on.

QLD
Aug. 27, 2007, 08:24 AM
I think an entire paper could be written on some of the questions that have arisen here, as it is not so simple. But it's back to the question of is it possible to achieve connection in bitless riding. If you look at the video of the neck roping horse, you can see that it is not possible, as this horse is not connected, he is simply controlled. What impulsion he has stops at the shoulder, and true while the rider can shorten his stride, and brace the shoulders back enough as to be able to push the hindquarters underneath him when stopping, the impulsion he has does not, through the use of proper half halts, raise and arch the neck, which is a result of the combination of the horses impulsion being properly directed through the use of the half halts. But collection in dressage terms travels through the horses entire body, not just to the shoulder. Should this horse have a bit in his mouth, in this outline, he would not be considered collected, but rather shortened.

As far as the hackamore, again, providing you have the horse in the same outline, it is merely positioning, and in my eyes, is more backwards than front words. The jaw is a vital part of connection, and it is the suppleness of the jaw that help the poll area relax, and allow the rider to have influence over the had and neck.

I think in this entire argument about possibilities, it's very important to consider the 'rules' of dressage, and all aspects of what defines collection in dressage. While those videos were great pictures of horsemanship, and obviously at the top of their game, this is not what we would call collection in the dressage world by any means.

slc2
Aug. 27, 2007, 09:01 AM
This isn't really just about bitless bridles and bosals...it's about whether what one does in dressage is the same as what one does in other styles of riding.

We have two firmly divided camps that will NEVER meet - one that collection in roping and reining etc is the same, one that it is not. That you get the same effect with a bitless bridle as you do a bridle with a bit, I think is actually an offshoot of that.

I am in the camp of dressage collection, contact, engagement, position and aids are different from other riding styles, despite superficial similarities.

I am also in the camp of say no to all bitless bridles. All. Why did the great horsemen of all time use BOTH, if they are not different. If they are the same, they would be interchangeable, and they're not, not even to the old californios who developed the use of the bosal to a high art.

MyReality
Aug. 27, 2007, 10:59 AM
I did not mean to say we are not allowed to discuss bitless in a dressage forum. But certain posters points out how other disciplines achieve collection, in other equipments, than dressage. I just want to point out, let's stick to dressage's definition of collection, and analyze what equipment works.

I am glad someone actually find bitless works for them. That's what I want to hear. I have no problem with it. I have tried 2 bitless... one is Dr. Cook (on my horse), one is PP pressure halter (not on my horse). I have never tried bosol or side pulls. I could tell you my experience.

Dr. Cook: basic bending, steering, stopping, flexion... not a problem, works very much like any bridle. BUT if I want to ask a little firmer outside rein let say, my horse thinks the pressure on his head is too wierd and tosses his head. It works on more parts of the head. But to be fair, my horse is the thin skinned type and he doesn't like any funny sensations. (Great horse to learn steady hand!)

The pressure halter, I cannot stand it. It does not allow you to do anything... except slowing down the horse and bending the neck. It hinges on you NOT touching the bridle unless you want something so the horse does not become desensitized to the pressure. So the horse I rode learned to brace against it in no time, cuz silly me I ride with contact... then I was instructed to raise my whole arm, and when that doesn't work, I hit his chin with the clasp... It is a completely crazy experience!

Bluey
Aug. 27, 2007, 01:35 PM
I think an entire paper could be written on some of the questions that have arisen here, as it is not so simple. But it's back to the question of is it possible to achieve connection in bitless riding. If you look at the video of the neck roping horse, you can see that it is not possible, as this horse is not connected, he is simply controlled. What impulsion he has stops at the shoulder, and true while the rider can shorten his stride, and brace the shoulders back enough as to be able to push the hindquarters underneath him when stopping, the impulsion he has does not, through the use of proper half halts, raise and arch the neck, which is a result of the combination of the horses impulsion being properly directed through the use of the half halts. But collection in dressage terms travels through the horses entire body, not just to the shoulder. Should this horse have a bit in his mouth, in this outline, he would not be considered collected, but rather shortened.

As far as the hackamore, again, providing you have the horse in the same outline, it is merely positioning, and in my eyes, is more backwards than front words. The jaw is a vital part of connection, and it is the suppleness of the jaw that help the poll area relax, and allow the rider to have influence over the had and neck.

I think in this entire argument about possibilities, it's very important to consider the 'rules' of dressage, and all aspects of what defines collection in dressage. While those videos were great pictures of horsemanship, and obviously at the top of their game, this is not what we would call collection in the dressage world by any means.

I have seen Freddie Knie train towards and perform a whole correct upper level test without anything on a horse, bareback, not even a string around the neck.
Even with half halts, pirouettes, passage and piaffe.

I have seen much worse shown with bits, with piaffe with the horse's hind end dragging, where the horse was lifting but never was carried over the back.

A far as other than a bit, remember that there are as many types of bosals as there are bits, from our soft grass rope hackamores, thru the big thick rawhide ones and some people even call mechanical hackamores just hackamores, when those are definitely not the same at all.
The same with all those bitless bridles or halter bridles.
I have never seen them close, so don't know what they do, but there seem to be several out there.

I will still say that an excellent trainer will be able to get the most of any horse and the talent and the training that horse has, no matter what tools are used.

I think that it is questionable to say we don't want people to show without bits because they can't ride proper dressage without one.:confused:
That would be like requiring a lariat to calf rope.:p
That you carry a rope is not required in the rules, because anyone would love to see you be competitive at catching a calf and tie it down fast without one.:winkgrin:

If you really can't be competitive showing without a bit, the scores would tell the story, no need to make it a rule.:)

To say it won't work on principle, well the reality is that we don't know yet, not many seem to be trying it.

Sithly
Aug. 27, 2007, 07:26 PM
Okay, I am at the agree-to-disagree point here. But I would like to point out that from a behavioral standpoint, collection is a conditioned response. As such, it is possible to attach the same response to a different stimulus. Whether or not you want to call it "collection" is up to you.

Kathy Johnson
Aug. 27, 2007, 08:36 PM
Back at you to agree to disagree. Collection in dressage is far more than a "conditioned response." It is a progressive building of muscles and articulation in the joints as well as the horse's understanding of the subtle aids asking for these shifts in balance. It takes years to develop in most horses.

Collection is more like standing on point in ballet than it is like salivating for food. If you had a stimulus for me to stand on point, I could not do it no matter how many times you repeated the stimuli. In 2 or 3 months, with proper training, conditioning and stretching (ok, make that years) I might be able to better approximate the response. A more gifted athlete might be able to do it much more quickly.

So, there is no one stimulus or aid to ask for collection. So there aren't different stimuli to achieve the same response. Collection in dressage requires a steady and progressive development of muscles and mental understanding from the horse. Dressage and reining/natural horsemanship/cutting/you name it are as different as jazz, jive and ballet. All forms of dance, yes, but all requiring different and specialized training.

Sithly
Aug. 27, 2007, 09:32 PM
Whoops, you're right! I used the wrong term for what I was thinking. I meant to talk about operant conditioning. The (modified) point stands, though. Yes, the training is systematic and progressive. It is still training, and still involves modifying behavior. Name almost any behavior, and someone else can name a different way to modify it.

Very simple example: You want your horse to turn to the left. One person might put pressure on the left rein and release it when the horse turns left. Another might put pressure on the right rein and release it when the horse turns left. Another might tap the neck with a whip. Another might wait until the horse turns on his own, then feed him a treat.

With each method, the horse will learn to consistently learn to turn left. Each method allows you to attach a specific cue to the behavior. Each method allows for systematic, progressive training. So to say that there is only one way to achieve collection sounds a bit silly to me.

angel
Aug. 27, 2007, 09:51 PM
Sabine...I cannot believe you found the rapidly changing movements of the reiner not equal to, or even better than dressage. Do you have any idea what kind of balance those moves take in order to excute them with such rapid precision? As far as using a bosal for collection...I have never tried, as to show requires a bit. But, I'd be willing to bet money that I could train a horse in the bosal to do everything that your Fourth Level horse does. It is the seat that creates collection, not what is up front creating the wall to which your hands are connected.

What I feel is that many of the "pure" other disciplines have been bastardized to some degree for the show ring...not the working disciplines done correctly, but more along the lines of the pleasure ring work. Western pleasure certainly is done incorrectly for the most part. Lots of hunter ring classes would never pass in an actual jumping situation. But, this is really a digression from the question about contact.

Bluey
Aug. 27, 2007, 11:06 PM
Did you see that cutting horse bogie there?:lol:
That takes such amount of collection you can't even think how much.
Yes, they train for that for many months and years, but the basics of those moves are there from the time the foal is born, so they are patterned to them in their motor centers and they spent all their young lives already practicing, just as piaffe and passage, correct in most cases, are already there in andalusian colts as they play around their dams.

By the time we start training, they have practiced them all their lives, so they are already ahead on their training and conditioning, the muscle memory is there, the talent inherited.
That is why you can start an andalusian colt and some will be piaffing a little at three months from being backed.
Not recommended, but I have seen it and most of those went on to do fine in their later training.

Because something is not conventional, that doesn't mean it may be wrong.
Maybe it is, maybe not or not so bad, but without thinking about it, we really can't say, just because we do it differently.

Now, if you take a lanky and gangly TB colt and ask it to collect, when it has spent all it's life running around in a small paddoc, then you will do more harm, demanding something they are not ready for, that's right.
We spent several months on some colts going long and low, before we ever picked the reins up, but they were not the handiest things around, would trip on their own feet, even if you tried to steady them.

Some have "it", some don't. We work with what we have.:yes:

Kathy Johnson
Aug. 27, 2007, 11:16 PM
Sithly,

I will agree to agree. I can teach a horse to canter on the left lead by pulling on his left ear. I don't think there is only one way to collect, but the term is so bandied about in different disciplines that it means different things to everyone. In dressage, it means one specific thing--the top of the training scale. For instance I know a lady with a very level quarter horse she took to GP. His form of collection is very different from a very level quarter horse trained to the top in reining, although built and bred exactly the same. It would take awhile to have either horse cross over successfully into the other discipline, although it would be possible..

Sabine
Aug. 27, 2007, 11:49 PM
Yes, splitting hairs, that is what we are doing.

What we here understand as contact and collection is best demonstrated when facilitated by a bit, it is the definition in dressage as we understand it.

If you know how to put a horse on the bit, if you have learned the feel you are after when a horse is working in self carriage, you will automatically search for it every time you ride, no matter what kind of horse you ride, in what discipline and with what bit or no bit.
Why? Because it is the best, most efficient way for a horse to move under you.
You will also get it much of the time, as much as the horse is ready to give it to you, in any circumstance, because such is more than just receiving that energy into your hand.

To do so thru a bit makes it easy to most horses and riders while learning, I think.
That is why today most people training in any discipline, yes, even western, use a snaffle, although most don't use that snaffle the same way as in dressage and, closing the circle of thought, to do it here and with a bit is understood to be the standard.

Cool- I am with you- and really I don't claim to know anything about bitless riding and training and I do acknowledge that there are folks out there that have done what I do and then used another 10 years or so to learn the 'other' side- I am just not one of them- but who knows- maybe that's in the cards in the next 10 years- or after that....;)

Sabine
Aug. 27, 2007, 11:52 PM
I have seen Freddie Knie train towards and perform a whole correct upper level test without anything on a horse, bareback, not even a string around the neck.
Even with half halts, pirouettes, passage and piaffe.

I have seen much worse shown with bits, with piaffe with the horse's hind end dragging, where the horse was lifting but never was carried over the back.

A far as other than a bit, remember that there are as many types of bosals as there are bits, from our soft grass rope hackamores, thru the big thick rawhide ones and some people even call mechanical hackamores just hackamores, when those are definitely not the same at all.
The same with all those bitless bridles or halter bridles.
I have never seen them close, so don't know what they do, but there seem to be several out there.

I will still say that an excellent trainer will be able to get the most of any horse and the talent and the training that horse has, no matter what tools are used.

I think that it is questionable to say we don't want people to show without bits because they can't ride proper dressage without one.:confused:
That would be like requiring a lariat to calf rope.:p
That you carry a rope is not required in the rules, because anyone would love to see you be competitive at catching a calf and tie it down fast without one.:winkgrin:

If you really can't be competitive showing without a bit, the scores would tell the story, no need to make it a rule.:)

To say it won't work on principle, well the reality is that we don't know yet, not many seem to be trying it.

I have seen lots of Freddie KNie- he was a true genius and growing up where I was- he was the hero!! in more ways than one....he was truly amazing- his ways of training were so intuitive- he was magically connected to the horse- beyond what I have EVER seen in my life. Thanks for reminding me of him!!

Sabine
Aug. 28, 2007, 12:14 AM
Sabine...I cannot believe you found the rapidly changing movements of the reiner not equal to, or even better than dressage. Do you have any idea what kind of balance those moves take in order to excute them with such rapid precision? As far as using a bosal for collection...I have never tried, as to show requires a bit. But, I'd be willing to bet money that I could train a horse in the bosal to do everything that your Fourth Level horse does. It is the seat that creates collection, not what is up front creating the wall to which your hands are connected.

What I feel is that many of the "pure" other disciplines have been bastardized to some degree for the show ring...not the working disciplines done correctly, but more along the lines of the pleasure ring work. Western pleasure certainly is done incorrectly for the most part. Lots of hunter ring classes would never pass in an actual jumping situation. But, this is really a digression from the question about contact.


Angel- glad to talk to you- you probably don't know me but for me- everything with a horse has to do with harmony and I can almost 'feel' the horse when I watch it. This horse did not look himself- there was no zest in his work- there was no shiny coat - the stunning muscled appearance that would lead me to believe that he was comfy and that the work was easy for him- was missing- in contrary- it looked too automatic and 'stepfordwiveish' to me...(sorry for that made up expression)..... I guess we all take our instincts and watch what we see and decide to emulate or reject based on the 'feel' and the 'aura' we get from the work...
I personally did not get a good feel...:(

QLD
Aug. 28, 2007, 12:18 AM
Having been yelled at the TD for riding my GP horse back after grazing after dark, and piaffing (on purpose) bareback in a halter to the barn, yes, of course it's possible to 'do' the movements without a bridle, or a saddle for that matter. And yes, I too have had great fun "entertaining" my students by riding the entire test in a halter.

However is it 'correct training'? No. At that point it's simply tricks done because the horse is 'obedient' in nature at that stage of the game.

I think you have to consider that the head of the horse is the final extension of the spinal column. The energy travels from the backmost foot, all the way through the spine, which ends, at the mouth. To end it with pressure on the poll, or the shoulder, negates the effect of the mobilization of the jawbone. The only way to mobilize the jaw, is through the bit.

The definition of "collection" in dressage talks about the 'raising of the head and neck, which INCREASES by degree with the level of training'. This raising is a result of impulsion combined with the lowering of the hindquarters, 'pushing' the forehand forward and upward. But it is also a result of the effect the mobilization of the jaw, which allows the head and neck muscles to relax to the point, which in turn, allows the neck to raise and arch. The head and neck cannot be raised and arched under the weight of the rider, without the mobilization of the jaw, which can only be done when the bridle is used to 'catch' the forward driving energies of the hindquarters.

As far as the videos, and the comparative western type of collection, there may be a similar placement of the hind legs in the western horses, however, there is also considerate 'bracing' of the forehand, which allows the horse to pivot back and forth in a zig zag motion. (If you watch these videos in slow motion, you will see the horse brace against his front end, and indeed, push off it in the other direction.) This is not truly possible in the dressage horse during the so called 'similar' movement of the pirouette, as the dressage type of collection necessitates complete lightness of the forehand. There is just enough weight on the forehand, for him to touch down lightly for balance, in preparation for the next stride. He can do this in one direction only. So a truly collected horse, in the dressage definition of collected, cannot change direction in the middle of a pirouette at the canter. A pirouette by dressage definition, cannot be done with a head and neck outstretched either, as the arching and raising of the neck are a necessity at this level of collection at the canter.

This isn't to say one type of collection is better or more pure. Comparing the types of collection is like comparing apples and oranges. The best you might be able to say is that they're growing in the same orchard...

But this is not possible, without being able to properly mobilize the jaw through the use of the bridle with a bit....

Sabine
Aug. 28, 2007, 12:26 AM
Good One- QLD- certainly trying to bridge that ol' gap!! I think we have to acknowledge skill- experience, knowledge of the foundational training on all sides...the person I would really LOVE to hear on this discussion is someone like Freddie Knie - who has done a such different and excellent job- not that his horses were competitive in a dressage court- but they were completely able to do the job without...and they weren't apparently labored or put off- to me that impression of joy and livelyhood and vibrance is HUGE...it's not worth it to me to train the crap out of a horse=just to achieve a mechanical result-..... it's like the horse's spirit died on the way to achieving the goal- no bueno!

PiaffeDreams
Aug. 28, 2007, 01:02 AM
Thank you QLD! I was in the midst of typing a post in Word and reading the updates on this thread when finally someone discussed the anatomy and biomechanical aspects. :)

I also feel a lot for the ability in my horses to 'advance the poll' forward over the top of the bit as this is what ultimately happens to give the base of the neck room to grow forward and upward... lifting the sternum. When the pressure is on the nose, the poll must go another couple of inches further which results in a BTV horse.

At this point the horse begins to learn to push off of the bit. If his nose is dangling in the middle of a circle of rope, rawhide or otherwise, he has nothing to push off of as the bosal will exert more backwards pressure at this point and send the nose even further BTV. Hence its purpose as a bump/release type of device. Its just not designed for the correct contact.

Side-pulls and jumping hackamores can be a teensy bit better as they are designed for some continuous feel, but they are limited when it comes to training the correct contact.

I've ridden my horses in halters and soft rawhide hackamores and a side-pull and the connection has felt okay at least for that day or so. And these were horses who already had a fair level of training. I've not experienced this working so well to train for the above reasons and as QLD describe... no mobilization of the jaw.

One final note as to the apples and oranges of various philosophies on collection: A western working or cow horse's collection does not involve much FORWARD work. a cutting horse certainly bears weight on his haunches but he does so not to elevate his forehand and propel himself forward in taller steps, but to crouch and swoop. Same with a reiner. Totally different uses, totally different requirements.

Forward is the game in dressage.

angel
Aug. 28, 2007, 06:27 AM
The mobilization of the jaw is really on the horse carrying it head in a particular position. The "mobilization" is due to the horse needing to swallow more because when the head is in that position, it holds the salivary glands more open, allowing more saliva into the mouth. The head needs to be carried in that certain position to balance it within the lines of gravitational pull in order to assist the lower neck muscles to stretch. This in turn allows the upper neck muscles to flex which helps raise the withers. Raising the withers allows the hindquarters to come through, which allows the withers to be supported in the lift from behind, creating your circle of balance.

Sabina...I have read your posts over a number of years now, and from those posts, I believe you are a wonderful rider. Too bad you are so far away from me, as I would love to meet you.

Bluey
Aug. 28, 2007, 06:53 AM
Thank you QLD! I was in the midst of typing a post in Word and reading the updates on this thread when finally someone discussed the anatomy and biomechanical aspects. :)

I also feel a lot for the ability in my horses to 'advance the poll' forward over the top of the bit as this is what ultimately happens to give the base of the neck room to grow forward and upward... lifting the sternum. When the pressure is on the nose, the poll must go another couple of inches further which results in a BTV horse.

A well trained horse can do that on it's own, because it has learned to the point of true self carriage, which is a goal of much riding, including dressage.

At this point the horse begins to learn to push off of the bit. If his nose is dangling in the middle of a circle of rope, rawhide or otherwise, he has nothing to push off of as the bosal will exert more backwards pressure at this point and send the nose even further BTV. Hence its purpose as a bump/release type of device. Its just not designed for the correct contact.

You are talking about a kind of bosal, those stiff rawhide ones, that I will agree are not conductive to good training.
All they do, if you watch how most work in videos, is to go bumpity-bump all along as a horse moves, unless adjusted very carefully and then they tend to make a horse sore, unless you cover them with something soft.
It takes a good hand on a horse to train despite of them.;)
I say the horses learn not because of them, but in spite of them.:p

Side-pulls and jumping hackamores can be a teensy bit better as they are designed for some continuous feel, but they are limited when it comes to training the correct contact.

No, the idea of the kind of ligher bosals that teach is that of getting the horse to listen as it learn to move on it's own, WITHOUT contact, without something holding him in front, to make those decisions on how to travel and respond to the rider in a way we call here "becoming light".

I've ridden my horses in halters and soft rawhide hackamores and a side-pull and the connection has felt okay at least for that day or so. And these were horses who already had a fair level of training. I've not experienced this working so well to train for the above reasons and as QLD describe... no mobilization of the jaw.

I would say that horses in a halter do mobilize their whole body when performing, jaw and all, even without a bit in their mouths, just as we clench our jaws and move our mouth around as we are doing tasks that require concentration.

One final note as to the apples and oranges of various philosophies on collection: A western working or cow horse's collection does not involve much FORWARD work. a cutting horse certainly bears weight on his haunches but he does so not to elevate his forehand and propel himself forward in taller steps, but to crouch and swoop. Same with a reiner. Totally different uses, totally different requirements.

Show me a cutting horse that doesn't has it's hind end lower than it's front end during most of the movements, except at times when facing a cow directly and then he is scrunched like a pretzel, the hind end under it'self but, in place of being elevated with the front end, as in static collection of the levade, he is carrying all it's weight properly over it's hind end, the energy then exploding properly over it's back to end up in front as it moves.
As a horse sweeps around, the front end is elevated.
If a horse is not, it would take a real feat of athleticism to move that front end around as they do, if they are on the front end.
They would be in their own way, not be able to move so fast.

Forward is the game in dressage.

I would say that a cutting horse is working with extremes of collection and extension, but because of the speed and lack of exact clear distinction between the movements, it is hard to appreciate, when we are used to work thru that in the slow motion of a dressage test.
Many of the better cutting trainers know intuitively how to balance a horse under themselves, how to condition over months toward's that end, so it can perform properly.
They also know not to ask much of the horse at first, to build slowly to that kind of self carriage and elasticity you see in the final product.

I consider those well trained cutting horses to be the example of what good training can be when used for a task, where we can see the results of horses working properly from back to front, in collection and extension, just as they do in a dressage test, but without the exactitude of the movements, that is lost when working at that speed.

In dressage we are working towar'd the more static goals in collection, ending in a levade and in cutting the goal of maximum collection is not obvious as a goal in itself, but as part of what makes the horse be able to perform the task at hand.

I say both are right mechanically, the horses working thru the same physical processes to achieve the same, best and most efficient way to move that mass in space, in collection and extension.

I think tentatively, answering the question that was posed in the OP, that the horse has a bit in it's mouth does give a good way to influence that training, but the mechanics of how the horse will move to achieve collection will be there with or without a bit, but a bit definitely does facilitate it, that is why so many western riders today train with a snaffle, even if training and using it in a very different way a dressage rider would.

The goal of several kinds of riding is self carriage, that is the physically most efficient way a horse and rider can move in space.
We can't change the laws of physics, most of us are all working with the same animal, have to live and work within them, although some times our goals are definitively skewered by fads in riding or breeding that alter the basic goals.

PiaffeDreams
Aug. 28, 2007, 11:43 AM
I say both are right mechanically, the horses working thru the same physical processes to achieve the same, best and most efficient way to move that mass in space, in collection and extension.
.

I wasn't saying that a cutting or working western horse isn't right mechanically. Its just a different use for the collection and therefore not particularly useful in giving examples of how to train a dressage horse without a snaffle.

I've ridden and trained one of my horses as a working cow horse and I can say, that the front end DOES get lower as the horse collects. They suck themselves backward over the haunches which is a VERY different feel than a horse that steps his haunches forward under himself.

YEs, the front is light, yes the hocks are engaged and yes, the horse's are able to 'extend' to chase the cow, but its not the same. Very useful for its sport, derived from a common ancestor, but now different beasts.

Red Barn
Aug. 28, 2007, 12:12 PM
PiaffeDreams,

As a person with experience with both cutting and dressage horses, I wonder whether you think that the word "collection" really remains a useful and descriptive term when used to describe such very different types of movement?

Are they similar enough to be grouped under the same heading?

Personally, I find the current over-use of the word "collection" (in H/J as well as in the western sports) to be very misleading, and I wonder why people insist on using it, even in the most far-fetched of contexts.

I mean, nobody claims Blue Hors Matine has "cow sense" just because she's light on her feet.

monstrpony
Aug. 28, 2007, 01:19 PM
As a person with experience with both cutting and dressage horses, I wonder whether you think that the word "collection" really remains a useful and descriptive term when used to describe such very different types of movement?

Are they similar enough to be grouped under the same heading?
If the physical characteristics are present as described in several of the posts above, then it can be described as collection, regardless of the type of movement.

... nobody claims Blue Hors Matine has "cow sense" just because she's light on her feet.
Cow sense isn't something developed from scratch using only physical characteristics; it's partly mental, and inherent (genetic). No one knows whether or not Matine has cow sense until she's put on a cow. Could she be developed to spin or slide? Well, as a matter of fact, probably pretty easily, given the training and physical development that's already in her ;).

As others have said above, dressage takes collection to its fullest extent. That does not mean that other disciplines, or, more importantly, other individuals, don't develop it correctly, even if they don't take it as far as GP dressage. No one is claiming such individuals are to be found on every streetcorner, but there are those among us who believe that they do exist.

MyReality
Aug. 28, 2007, 01:47 PM
"That does not mean that other disciplines, or, more importantly, other individuals, don't develop it correctly, even if they don't take it as far as GP dressage"

Did anybody say collection developed in other disciplines is incorrect? I didn't. I don't think others did either.

I said collection developed in other disciplines is incomplete IN THE CONTEXT OF DRESSAGE. The video of the reiner shown is an example of a good reiner, but not an example of horse in collection in dressage's definition. He won't even do in a training level test. Why do we still argue about this concept, especially on a dressage board?

Sorry the reiner's rapid movements doesn't impress me one bit. However, it does NOT mean he is not impressive! On the same token, horses than can jump really high, or run really fast, or run a long distance, or pull a big cart, do they impress me? gees.

monstrpony
Aug. 28, 2007, 01:55 PM
"Did anybody say collection developed in other disciplines is incorrect? I didn't. I don't think others did either.



Perhaps not you, but others have objected to the use of the word "collection" in other disciplines, because it is not done according to the dressage standard. Seems to me that kind of thinking implies that the collection in other disciplines is incorrect. Sorry if I misunderstood.

QLD
Aug. 28, 2007, 02:12 PM
I think there's a fair amount of respect between the disciplines.

I think the problem is the language barrier for starters, as much of dressage is derived from terms in other languages, being translated as best as is possible, without actually having words available to do so. But I don't think that the disciples of the different disciplines need to argue about whether their horse meets the criteria of the terminology from a whole other discipline?

I think part of being a well rounded horse person is appreciating and accepting these differences and what we have to learn from them, and not arguing that the dressage horse can do it as well as the western horse, or vice versa.

slc2
Aug. 28, 2007, 02:19 PM
What is called 'collection' in saddle seat riding is not the same as dressage collection. It is 'wrong' for dressage. If yiou took a saddle seat horse and showed it unchanged in dressage, people would say, 'that's incorrect collection'.

If you took a western horse and showed it, unchanged, in dressage people would say, judges would say, 'that's incorrect'.

It is I believe the height of childishness to sit and tsk tsk tsk the western rider for not riding like a dressage rider, or vice versa.

Some weeks ago, a friend reported that an Indian friend didn't eat meat, but that her children did, another lady replied, 'Well THAT'S good, at least the CHILDREN are eating meat!' We want everything pummeled down to the same pale vanilla easy to gum slop, don't we. God forbid one person should be vegetarian and another not. God forbid someone should like classical music when our friends like trance music or vice versa.

Why for the love of god, does everyone have to eat the same way, or ride the same way, or like the same things, or they are a lesser person? Why does what a dressage rider does need to be the same as other types of riding, or vice versa? Why do we so CRAVE such uniformity and lack of diversity that we try to make everything the same, while at the same time screaming that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave? barf!

QLD
Aug. 28, 2007, 02:30 PM
I think I said that without barfing. Maybe I should have barfed. At least no one has to grind up the pale vanilla gum slop now...

slc2
Aug. 28, 2007, 02:40 PM
we're all still puritans. thong wearing closet pilgrims. gad.

danee
Aug. 28, 2007, 02:48 PM
I can collect my horse just with my seat in a step or two- he'll come back and fold under a tad more- and raises the front- becomes light in the hand and somewhat shortens the stride while coming under in the rear
I know this was for only a step or two, and you went onto say that you need bit connection after that to maintain, but THEORETICALLY if we can ask for and get two steps of CORRECT dressage style collection without bit connection for two step, than it is possible and we should be able to get more- I'm not saying it is easy or practical- just possible.


I think there is also a difference in TRAINING collection bitless, and ACHIEVING collection bitless (Collection as in lowering HQ, lifting forehand, and stringing the bow)

For those riding in doubles, but often switch back to snaffle for training....
I think when you first introduce the curb, you get a lot more collection. But when you switch back to the snaffle, you still have that extra collection now that the horse knows it. I find switching between a bit and a rope hackamore to be VERY similar- I can only teach a horse so much about stretching to the "bit" in a hackamore, but after learning it in a snaflfe, I can copy the exact feel in a hackamore.

The person who said they could have been blind folded and not be able to tell the difference really made me think. (It is a page or two back or I'd quote it, sorry) I want to get an anti NH, GP dressage rider to try that on my horse someday!!!!


About the jaw... when the bit is in, the horse must accept it by allowing the bit to influence the head and not just the jaw, while still staying relaxed in the jaw. The incorrect use of a bit is more likely to make a horse stiff in the jaw than the incorrect use of a hackamore, so mobilization of the jaw is an important factor when using a bit to prove acceptance, but not as much in using a hackamore??? I don't know, I havn't thought about it until this thread.

In my personal ridng I see bitless riding as the begginning, than the bit to be more advanced, but if you can than get the same finese without the bit as you just did with it it is proof of good work. Just like the snaffle comes first, than the double, but if you can't get the movements without the double than something was incorrect.

What a great thread this has been!

Red Barn
Aug. 28, 2007, 03:02 PM
Slc, I think "thong wearing closet pilgrim" is THE best phrase I've heard ALL YEAR! (Absolutely true, too.)

May I borrow it?

Tuff Tilly
Aug. 28, 2007, 07:21 PM
I am coming to this post a bit late and haven't the time to read it through completely just now, however I would like to add to whatever is being said. I applogize if I'm repeating something someone else has said.

I have a mare that I broke/rode exclusively bitless (bosal and then sidepull) until last October when we finally transitioned to a snaffle.

The only reason I transitioned to a snaffle is because we need to ride in a bit should we ever show, not because she goes best in a snaffle.

The arguements about connection and contact are understandable. In a bitless you're looking for response to the lightest of pressure, small signals just as in a bit. The only difference is constant contact. I feel that the feel on a horse that is well trained to a bittless bridle is equal to that of a horse trained to go bitted.

I've taught vertical flexion, pushing a horse forward onto the bridle...my mares that ride bittless even lick, chew, foam and drool while I ride them sans bit. You still get that soft jaw and poll, it is still possible to be "on the bit" even with a lack thereof.

I have one mare who will soften and begin licking and foaming at the mouth when we work on the ground, in a halter. After first 5 minutes into longing her she'll have a blob of spitty foam hanging from her bottom lip. I don't get that kind of softness from her in a bit yet.

slc2
Aug. 28, 2007, 07:35 PM
you may.

PiaffeDreams
Aug. 28, 2007, 10:16 PM
II've taught vertical flexion, pushing a horse forward onto the bridle...my mares that ride bittless even lick, chew, foam and drool while I ride them sans bit. You still get that soft jaw and poll, it is still possible to be "on the bit" even with a lack thereof..

I don't think its at all unreasonable to get to the "on the bit" stage without an actual bit. I've felt and actually done that myself. I rode my hanoverian when he was 5yrs old in a dressage clinic with a very open minded instructor. He'd injured his teeth chewing on the fence and so I didn't want to put the bridle on, but had paid for the lessons... anyway I figured she could lunge me or we'd ride. She was curious to have me ride and alas he was "on the bit" by what some would say is the real definition of that term... on the aids. Of course one can have the horse on the aids.

HOWEVER, the question comes when you want to go beyond simply being on the bit to moving the horse "over" it and subsequently getting the horse to push back off of it. There was a fabulous article in DT a few months back about that concept and also had a great article on back movers vs. leg movers.

PiaffeDreams
Aug. 28, 2007, 10:26 PM
PiaffeDreams,

As a person with experience with both cutting and dressage horses, I wonder whether you think that the word "collection" really remains a useful and descriptive term when used to describe such very different types of movement?

Are they similar enough to be grouped under the same heading?
.

I think they are derived from a common ancestor of engagement and bascule.

Our old quarter horse mare was a top notch cutter in her younger years. My mom used her to learn training level dressage and some lateral work. She's two different creatures when you ask her to canter on contact and when you lope her on a loose rein thinking of sliding her. When you canter her on the bit, she comes under behind rocks back but you can feel that her inclination is to keep going.

When you let the rein out and sit a bit more back toward your tail bone, she canters in a crouch. She can flat move out in that canter, but its REALLY obvious she is on razor's edge of a stop at the SLIGHTEST indication. Its an adrenaline rush, but she 'holds' herself backward. She's under herself, and her haunches are low, but she's ready to set her hindlegs in an instant. In a sliding stop, the horse sets the hind leg and keeps walking in front. they need to brace the hindquarter if they've roped off a cow for instance.

Thats very different than coming to a halt, where the horse continues to step with the hindleg in the down transition.

Its funny someone said that dressage aims for more static collection. I would say completely the opposite. We don't pivot and set a foot. (reiners pivot on the inside hind which has a more forward inclination than vaqueros who pivot on the outside hind which is very backward inclination, but more about being able to use a 'short rope'.)

So, I guess what I'm saying is I would lump them under collection, but I'd be careful to distinguish between collection that aims at keeping the forward tendency and one that does not. And, by that I'd not try to use an orange to describe the apple. But, I would hold the same respect for a fine specimen of orange as for a fine specimen of apple. ;)

Sabine
Aug. 29, 2007, 01:13 AM
we're all still puritans. thong wearing closet pilgrims. gad.

slick! best ever...true beyond belief...and this is from a 'free' european...LOL! I will use it with your permission... ;) make that 'shaved, thong wearing closet pilgrims..gazzook@

QLD
Aug. 29, 2007, 06:24 AM
Yikes...stubble!

Red Barn
Aug. 29, 2007, 06:50 AM
Thank you so much, PD.

Swell post! Very diplomatic.

Sounds like you're saying that you believe both dressage and cutting/reining employ "collection," but of very different kinds.

It also seems that you feel it IS possibble to train and sustain "collection" of the R/C variety without bit contact, but that the dressage variety does indeed require a bit.

The input on this (very informative!) thread seems to support that theory.

Now if only somebody would invent some clever new terminology to describe these two very distinct types of "collection", we might achieve perfect harmony in the fruit bowl after all.

LMH
Aug. 29, 2007, 07:04 AM
thong wearing closet pilgrims...

That was worth the entire thread.

If I knew I could read something that funny I would start a new thread on this forum daily.;)

OK back on topic...different meanings of collection...now that makes sense...actually the responses on both sides of the question are all so well presented!

Great conversation.

slc...from my perpective it isn't about keeping my thong in the closet and conforming...my desire to understand the difference is more for the benefit of my horse-just wanting to make sure how he is taught to carry himself is done to protect his health and allow him to be as athletic as he can.

If this can be achieved in different ways, great...without a bit great-if however he needs that connection in order to protect himself (he actually has pretty tough lower back issues)...then I want to be sure of that as well.

Thanks again for all the replies. Wonderful thread.

Bluey
Aug. 29, 2007, 08:31 AM
I think they are derived from a common ancestor of engagement and bascule.

Our old quarter horse mare was a top notch cutter in her younger years. My mom used her to learn training level dressage and some lateral work. She's two different creatures when you ask her to canter on contact and when you lope her on a loose rein thinking of sliding her. When you canter her on the bit, she comes under behind rocks back but you can feel that her inclination is to keep going.

When you let the rein out and sit a bit more back toward your tail bone, she canters in a crouch. She can flat move out in that canter, but its REALLY obvious she is on razor's edge of a stop at the SLIGHTEST indication. Its an adrenaline rush, but she 'holds' herself backward. She's under herself, and her haunches are low, but she's ready to set her hindlegs in an instant. In a sliding stop, the horse sets the hind leg and keeps walking in front. they need to brace the hindquarter if they've roped off a cow for instance.

Thats very different than coming to a halt, where the horse continues to step with the hindleg in the down transition.

Its funny someone said that dressage aims for more static collection. I would say completely the opposite. We don't pivot and set a foot. (reiners pivot on the inside hind which has a more forward inclination than vaqueros who pivot on the outside hind which is very backward inclination, but more about being able to use a 'short rope'.)

So, I guess what I'm saying is I would lump them under collection, but I'd be careful to distinguish between collection that aims at keeping the forward tendency and one that does not. And, by that I'd not try to use an orange to describe the apple. But, I would hold the same respect for a fine specimen of orange as for a fine specimen of apple. ;)

What reining horses do is different than what cutting horses do.
The good cutting horses are moving with forward in their mind, some reining horses are scotching, as you felt on that mare and getting by.
That meant the horse was getting behind your leg.
Dressage horses can do passage or piaffe as a trick, not engaged at all.
There are well trained horses that are correct and can do a reining pattern and then go work cattle well, it depends on their training being correct.

As with the true forward thinking passage and even piaffe, cutting demands a horse really working over their backs into the front.
Cutting horses learn to do it on their own, without a bit to hold them up.

Reining and sliding on a walking sliding stop is an exageration, just for show, not something you want a true cow working horse to be doing, other than in a reining pattern.
Remember that the reining horses have special shoes behind, so they can slide and work in ground groomed for the sliding, not too deep.
Sliding them without those shoes can get a horse hurt, if regular shoes catch too much in the ground.
When riding and working with a western horse, the horse should not go scotching on you, anticipating any kind of a stop, any more than a trotting horse you collect it's trot will be hesitating and trying to passage.
When they do, they are not correct.

You definitely won't have the kinds of gaits in western horses you do in top dressage horses, but then, you won't in most kinds of other horses, even the lower dressage horses.

I watched a few years ago the reining finals and the four best rides were, I am sure, very good reiners, but two were horses that didn't have any quality of gaits at all, fourbeating canters, choppy trots but worked the maneuvers correctly, I assume.
The other two were much better movers, one would have been acceptable, with fairly pure gaits, very round.
Still, they were all evidently top reiners. Go figure what they were judging for there.

One difference in western and dressage horses is that dressage horses need to have good, pure gaits, before they are asked for more, something missing in western horses, where anything seems to be ok.:confused:

monstrpony
Aug. 29, 2007, 09:35 AM
RE Good gaits.

Dressage values good gaits, and in fact one of its goals is development of the gaits. My impression has always been that true working western disciplines teach the horse to respond to the aids, and allow the work to develop the horse physically. So, there is no explicit emphasis on development of the gaits (who wants to do ranch work all day on the back of a horse with voluminous gaits?). This development, however, assumes that the horse is actually used for some kind of work. The western disciplines that have grown out of the concept of working horses, but have evolved to be a show business, have lost this component of the development process (for the most part; there are exceptions) and hence the quality of gaits in many western disciplines is almost non-existent. As well, and as is true, it seems with most show disciplines (i.e., hunters), what happens in the show ring becomes so far removed from the working horse world that any attempt to make comparisons is, well, a bit of a joke. In the western pleasure discipline, for example, destruction of the natural gaits seems to have become the value :(.

I don't think any of us in this conversation are seriously trying to say that most WP horses are trained with any kind of useful collection. The WP folks may use the term, but that is one case where it IS borrowed inappropriately.

In fact, there were no disciplines specified in the original post, only some types of equipment that are generally associated with particular disciplines (guilt by association, if you will).

I think the question is more if someone who is equipped with an appropriate set of values in their training, specifically someone familiar with the qualities that dressage values, could accomplish some useful training with non-bit devices. I know I carry my somewhat fractured experience with dressage with me as I pursue my visit with the vaquero traditon, and I genuinely believe it makes my horses a little better that they'd be if I didn't have those qualities in the back of my mind. I also know that riding without a bit has allowed my one gelding, who has some significant mental baggage from a bad WP-style training experience, to relax his jaw and quit trying to choke himself with his withdrawn tongue (try getting a horse through with that obstacle ...). I can go back to a snaffle periodically and get some genuine contact--something I never managed in the few years I tried to do "serious dressage" with him. If I had Olympic asperations, I'd have to force myself to become a good enough rider to accomplish this without the diversion. Alas, that's not in the cards, and finding a way to help my horse, who came to me seriously messed up, was more important to me.

Disclaimer: if anyone is offended by my generalizations, I apologize--I do recognize that there are exceptions to all of them.

tollertwins
Nov. 1, 2007, 08:14 AM
Um.....

Theresa Sandin's site sez that some people train to a fairly high level using an Iberian lunging cavesson....

I've actually seen pics of a guy trained this way in Piaffe - but I can't find it.