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Lambie Boat
Jan. 5, 2008, 09:49 PM
what if you spend many years and umpteen dollars seriously studying and training at what you thought was dressage, but it turns out to be all wrong?

what if you had a great time doing it and was riding a horse that was totally unsuited for dressage, but it turns out to be all wrong? Does it really matter?

What if what you thought was dressage really couldn't honestly be anything close to the Real Thing? Should it be called by a different name? What was it if it wasn't Dressage?

Gucci Cowgirl
Jan. 5, 2008, 09:58 PM
If your goal was to compete and be successful in the show arena, then spending those umpteen dollars and years doing "un-dressage" would be unfortunately not all that uncommon. You can't get money or time back, so all you can do is start all over again. It's the spilt milk situation.

If your goal was to learn to ride confidently and keep your horse happy and healthy and at home, then just be happy that he is, in fact happy and healthy and at home, and that you had fun while doing so.

If your goal was to be able to ride dressage correctly but stay out of competition then it's still not a big deal, you just have to start all over again...

IMHO 8 out of 10 "dressage" riders aren't actually doing "The Real Thing".

So again, IMHO, if you thought you were doing "The Real Thing", for a couple years, and only just learned now that isn't close to what it needs to be to be successful, then maybe you need to go audit some clinics more often, and go to shows and watch *successful* FEI riders compete, and have those experiences help you realize what it is really all about.

slight
Jan. 5, 2008, 09:59 PM
What in the world happened?
I'm focusing on the, "you had fun part..."
Are you sure you were so off base?

Lambie Boat
Jan. 5, 2008, 10:16 PM
I was just having a philosophical question about the whole thing. Maybe this is a spinoff of sorts from the Cindy Sydnor article, a little portion of the discussion? Or else it's a little because what wins at the top in the show ring bears little resemblance to what others consider the real deal?

I'm wondering about something more than the same old classical/competitive discussion or the pro vs ammy argument. There seems like many styles of training, the judging seems so subjective, the horses all have their own ways of using their bodies.....yet, there is a right and a wrong. Many people believe Dressage begins at 2nd level, with collection. Yet so many people are working at Training and First levels, seriously training and showing, pouring $$$$ and energy and heart into something which may or may not have anything to do with Real Dressage. Is it any less valuable, does it matter in the big picture of Dressage if it is 'just' a passion which one enjoys doing, no matter how poorly?

Shiaway
Jan. 5, 2008, 10:26 PM
I spent aproximatly 6 years doing exactly what you said minus the horse not suitable part. I was riding some nice horses that could have been find in dressage---the real thing LOL. And it was very expensive. The lessons were not cheep. Someone asked me shortly after I left if I resented the trainer because I had to basically go back to square one.

No I don't. I resent the trainer for other reasons that have nothing to do with what I learned or didn't learn. I feel that I enjoyed riding the horses and I did learn something. Everyone has something to offer. It might not have been correct but there were things I learned that I can appreciate better now, knowing how to weed out what is correct from incorrect.

I only regret that I spent 6 years *thinking* was improving and moving up the levels etc. and then only to discover I had not done so and I was still where I started.

kansasgal
Jan. 5, 2008, 10:38 PM
Well, sometimes learning the wrong stuff and realizing it later is part of the process. I'm not sure that there is anyone who has pursued a dressage education that can't relate to this situation in one way or another.

Is it wrong? What would you call it? Well, I think that everything you go through in life is a learning experience. As my dear mother used to say, ( she wasn't a horse person, by the way) "It's what you learn AFTER you thought you knew it all that matters most."

Riding is expensive. Lessons are expensive. Being part of the game, "right" or "wrong" is time consuming. Let is go.
Dressage is very zen. Or at least at its best it is.

Thanks for posting.

J-Lu
Jan. 5, 2008, 10:55 PM
I'm wondering about something more than the same old classical/competitive discussion or the pro vs ammy argument. There seems like many styles of training, the judging seems so subjective, the horses all have their own ways of using their bodies.....yet, there is a right and a wrong. Many people believe Dressage begins at 2nd level, with collection. Yet so many people are working at Training and First levels, seriously training and showing, pouring $$$$ and energy and heart into something which may or may not have anything to do with Real Dressage. Is it any less valuable, does it matter in the big picture of Dressage if it is 'just' a passion which one enjoys doing, no matter how poorly?

There ARE alot of different styles of training and a lot of roads to Rome. I've worked with successful GP riders/judges who had us work in a way that would make other successful GP riders/judges cringe...and vice versa. I've worked with Germans who want things different that Americans. I've had top riders ride my horse and bring a tear to my eye because she looked so beautiful and correct (becuase she understood them) and others who made my horse tense, upset and unhappy (because she didn't understand them). None of these people were "wrong" because clearly, they've all been successful riders/trainers through FEI on multiple horses...they just have different styles and different roads to get to the end goal. I choose people who have a specific style that works for *me* and I stay with them when I find them.

The most important thing is to find someone who has demonstrated success (determine that as you will) and has a style that works for you and your horse and your goals. :)

Oh, and my former trainer used to tell me that "dressage is nothing but riding a horse in circles, it is not a cure for cancer and does not contribute to world peace". She's totally right. We need to keep it in perspective. I don't think any disease was cured or any militia laid down its arms because somewhere...someone executed a perfect shoulder-in.

J.

flshgordon
Jan. 5, 2008, 11:05 PM
Interesting topic.....

Is it "wrong" just because it isn't necessarily classical dressage?

If you had a good time and your horse was happy, what could be wrong with that? And who's to say it's "wrong".

I grew up a saddleseat rider, then mostly migrated to hunters after college. Have had a ton of experience in different disciplines though hunters would be the one I claim the most. I have had more than one (several in fact) trainer in the last several years scoff at some of the ways of hunters. That doesn't make it "wrong".

I think if you're having fun and your horse is happy, then no matter what you're doing, it's not wrong.

exvet
Jan. 5, 2008, 11:06 PM
Well, sometimes learning the wrong stuff and realizing it later is part of the process. I'm not sure that there is anyone who has pursued a dressage education that can't relate to this situation in one way or another.

Is it wrong? What would you call it? Well, I think that everything you go through in life is a learning experience.

Certainly my experience as well and how I choose to look at it. I am determined to keep striving and enjoy what I am able to accomplish all outside judgments aside. Though there are many things that are ....if only I knew then.....well I didn't and if I had it to do over, circumstances all being the same I'm not sure I'd do it differently 'cause I didn't know any differently. It's a question as to how you put what you know now to use. Regret is a waste of time imo.

Now a question for Gucci :winkgrin: given that we live so close together just how do you propose someone in my position (knowing that I work 50-60 hours a week) accomplishes the following: then maybe you need to go audit some clinics more often, and go to shows and watch *successful* FEI riders compete, and have those experiences help you realize what it is really all about.? I am actually being serious. I don't have the time or money to go to either coast. What little time I do have "free" ...well you know where I am hanging out. Sure I've gone to watch & observe at the olympics, world cup, symposiums hosting supposedly the best of the best and if the opportunity arises will do so again; but, they are few and far between. In terms of what is available locally...what do you propose "we" (meaning those of us in the white trash/backyard ranks) do? Who is considered "appropriate" and "doing things right". I don't expect you to name, names.....too dicey; but, I think you and I both know that it's an easy recommendation to hand out yet the guidelines on who is really doing it "right" and thus one to emulate can be a bit hard to follow and likely what the OP endeavored to do to begin with.

Many of us in "my" ranks assume that the BNTs with many wins, huge reputation, etc might be the ones you refer to; but, then again reality strikes. It would be wonderful if and when one "signs up to do dressage" there was a cheat sheet that listed which judges uphold the standards, which clinicians adhere to the training scale and actually are able to parlay that into a medium for anyone off of a horse to understand, etc. etc. Plus as pointed out, certain styles speak better/more efficiently to different folks. The fact is that without the "knowledge" of who is doing it right, one can easily continue to throw good money after bad. It becomes quite a conundrum especially in our neck of the woods ;)

Honestly I think J-Lu hit the nail on the head.........we each have to determine for ourselves what is success, how do we want our horses trained/treated, if we or will we enjoy the journey, and then find those exemplifying what we hold as our ideal/dream. No simple task at times but possible. If it (meaning what you're doing now) makes 'you' happy and you're meeting your definition of success then what is there to regret? If it's not then you need to keep on seeking "the answer [for you]" as long as it is still your desire to ride "true dressage" however you choose to define it. Now when you find a way to do that "cheaply"....please let me know I'd be happy to give you my telephone number :winkgrin:

canticle
Jan. 5, 2008, 11:07 PM
You answered your own question when you said you had a great time. That's the only thing that matters in the end. No one cares what level you end up at, least of all your horse!

And just what is "Real Dressage"? I'm sure the hard-core competitors think their dressage is more real, just as the classical people think THEY are doing the real thing. So who is right?

Finally, I'm skeptical about this "unsuitable" dressage horse myth. I have yet to see a horse of sound mind and body who is unsuited to dressage work. If your horse is so unsuitable that dressage actually makes him worse off, then I think you need to examine your training system instead of laying blame on the horse. :winkgrin: (generic "you" of course!)

canticle
Jan. 5, 2008, 11:11 PM
Oh, and my former trainer used to tell me that "dressage is nothing but riding a horse in circles, it is not a cure for cancer and does not contribute to world peace".
OMG so true! Unfortunately we dressage riders are notorious for taking ourselves much too seriously at times. :no:

Dressage is just one way of enjoying our wonderful horses, so please let's keep it in perspective!

angel
Jan. 5, 2008, 11:20 PM
I resented, and still resent, much of the money that I spent for what proved to be incorrect instruction. It is not that I feel those instructors were deliberately out to get me, as resentment of the fact that those instructors did not really know what they thought they did. I would say that for most dressage riders, what they are taught is crupted by close to 50% at this point. There are a few exceptions in teachers, but for the most part, some of what is spouted is not accurate. I also resent that instructors were not able to look at what I was doing, and tell me exactly what was wrong with me...nevermind those old tired phrases such as the "horse" is doing this or that. Tell me what is wrong with my circle. Tell me exactly what went wrong with those endless lines of incorrect transitions. Don't just tell me to "try" again. I have seen folk go from instructor to instructor, searching...no... begging to be told what is wrong. They have gone from horse to horse to horse...begging to be told what is wrong...nevermind that the horses, were for the most part, all they needed to do dressage. Don't tell me that the amateur does not advance because they are not trying hard enough. Whose dollar do you think keeps all those instructors in business? Frankly, I do think I've kept it in perspective. Money does not exactly grow on trees in my area of the country. Do you think that if you were paying for gymnastic instruction and kept falling off the parallel bars, you'd keep falling without getting a triffle upset?

Hony
Jan. 6, 2008, 12:22 PM
What about it do you think was all wrong? There are many different ways to do things and different coaches will give you different pointers or explain things in different ways. The important thing is to collect all this information and then later be able to sort through it yourself to be able acheive the correct end result.
For instance, some teachers teach canter with an inside leg cue, some with an outside leg cue. Both methods work but sometimes the best method depends on how you and your horse work together. No lesson is a waste of time, some are just more informative than others.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Jan. 6, 2008, 12:59 PM
I did - maybe not umpteen dollars, maybe not half my lifetime.

Know what's true dressage, in my book? When you have improved the horse physically, when you have not inhibited him, when he is relaxed, understands what you want, and is capable of doing so - or attempting to do so.And when you are in a position to make that happen.

To me - that's enormously satisfying, fun for both you and the horse, and gives me that euphoric rush.

merrygoround
Jan. 6, 2008, 03:24 PM
I think it is possible to spend a lot of money, and time taking lessons on upper level horses, and not to learn anything. Unfortunately, not every one can teach, or is willing to insist that the basics are in place before a rider moves on. It can be far easier to slide the student along, allowing them to think they are learning.

Not all the certifications in the world will cure this. Back to "buyer beware".

slc2
Jan. 6, 2008, 03:54 PM
It's a very complex question and not at all easy to answer. The answer is likely to be very, very different for different people....

First I think alot of 'wrong' teaching isn't so wrong, if the person gets some basics and some saddle time, that may be exactly what they need at that time.

It may also not be so wrong if it whets the person's appetite for more, and teaches them they have to work harder to get where they want to be. A better trainer, riding more often, working very hard...in the saddle and off it.

Many people feel it's only 'wrong' if it upsets the horse or rider. That's not how everyone measures 'wrong', though. For others 'wrong' is far more complex, and far harder to avoid.

But as far as all of us having a limited number of years of health and creak-free moving around, it is a problem to waste a lot of time going down the wrong path, if the person has a specific path they are trying to get down. Sure the person may be able to ride in the Olympics at 72, one person, Mrs. Lorna Johnstone did, after all...well, it may not work out quite like that.

Too, horses can not always be retrained and mistakes eliminated so easily. Basic mistakes in early training can follow a horse for the rest of its life - mistakes made for example in the flying changes may be impossible to make up for later. Not everything can be fixed. So it makes it all the more important to not get into questionable methods.

I think the only problem is when a person has a way to reach their goals that will never work, or unrealistic goals.

Equus34
Jan. 6, 2008, 05:17 PM
I say if you were having fun, and you enjoyed what you were doing and your horse enjoyed what you were doing. Why on earth would you stop doing it???

It may not have been upper level movements, but even riding simple schooling figures, circles, serpentines, and straight lines are all parts of dressage. So maybe you weren't actually riding a dressage test, but if you and your horse were having fun. I say enjoy...:winkgrin:

www.cmmbarnbrats.com

Gucci Cowgirl
Jan. 6, 2008, 08:32 PM
Now a question for Gucci :winkgrin: given that we live so close together just how do you propose someone in my position (knowing that I work 50-60 hours a week) accomplishes the following: then maybe you need to go audit some clinics more often, and go to shows and watch *successful* FEI riders compete, and have those experiences help you realize what it is really all about.? I am actually being serious. I don't have the time or money to go to either coast. What little time I do have "free" ...well you know where I am hanging out. Sure I've gone to watch & observe at the olympics, world cup, symposiums hosting supposedly the best of the best and if the opportunity arises will do so again; but, they are few and far between. In terms of what is available locally...what do you propose "we" (meaning those of us in the white trash/backyard ranks) do? Who is considered "appropriate" and "doing things right". I don't expect you to name, names.....too dicey; but, I think you and I both know that it's an easy recommendation to hand out yet the guidelines on who is really doing it "right" and thus one to emulate can be a bit hard to follow and likely what the OP endeavored to do to begin with.

Many of us in "my" ranks assume that the BNTs with many wins, huge reputation, etc might be the ones you refer to; but, then again reality strikes. It would be wonderful if and when one "signs up to do dressage" there was a cheat sheet that listed which judges uphold the standards, which clinicians adhere to the training scale and actually are able to parlay that into a medium for anyone off of a horse to understand, etc. etc. Plus as pointed out, certain styles speak better/more efficiently to different folks. The fact is that without the "knowledge" of who is doing it right, one can easily continue to throw good money after bad. It becomes quite a conundrum especially in our neck of the woods ;)

Now when you find a way to do that "cheaply"....please let me know I'd be happy to give you my telephone number :winkgrin:

I have no magic wand to wave and present people with very cheap, easily available dressage experiences, but that is a little bit the nature of the sport. There is no easy way to ensure you're going to get a stellar education.

BUT there are ways. One, if you are young and free to do a working student situation, with an international FEI rider, you're probably going to be ok if you stick with it long enough.

Two, if you can't possibly do that type of thing, then get books or preferably, training videos, from those successful international FEI riders that you admire. Then, if they happen to be in your area at some point for clinics, demos, shows, etc, go sit and watch all day, and video it, so you can go back again and again to analyze it.

If what you see on videos and in clinics with good successful riders doesn't look or sound anything like what you are doing yourself at home or with your trainer, then you know that something is missing.

Locally, well, that's another story - but again, reading, watching videos, and comparing that to what you are physically doing in your own arena does actually work. When I can't have good help for long periods of time, I video myself, and compare my training rides to those on DVD's from riders that I admire, and who are consistantly successful in the international ring...then I read some more or go back and re-read parts of books where I think I am unsure of.

the more you see/hear/read that(for example) "the horse has to come through the back up and forward evenly to both reins" you realize that when you pay attention to your own half-halts, and you have no weight in the reins, or the horse comes behind the leg, then you need to fix something, so that it is comparable in result to what is described as ideal on paper or in a video....

Note that international success is night and day different compared to national, regional, or local success.

Sometimes, riding by yourself and learning by the book/video can be WAY more beneficial than having lessons with a trainer who cannot/does not train correctly using the training scale and directives from each level.

That's another thing - just sticking to the training scale can keep people from making major mistakes in the training of their horse.

exvet
Jan. 6, 2008, 08:45 PM
Thanks Gucci.....that's much more what I was looking for and hopefully it will help others too. It's all too easy to get caught up in what the local "Jones'" are doing and it's not always correct. In a very small fish bowl such as ours I think it's even more likely to happen. As for cheap well there is a huge difference between cheap and money wisely spent which doesn't have to break the bank. I've paid far more for lessons and received much less in the way of help/education at times; so, the direct cost is not always the deciding factor of value. Plus I think that concentrating one's money to maximize work where it will correct one's weakness, no matter how it compares to another expense can put us light years ahead and thereby save us money, time and heartache in the long run :winkgrin: .......Hey ya goin' to the schooling show next weekend :D

Gucci Cowgirl
Jan. 6, 2008, 08:51 PM
I completely agree - sometimes just going to a good trainer for a specific problem (say tempis or halfpasses or something very specific) is way smarter money-wise, than being in full training. (Especially for someone like yourself who doesn't need to be in full training, because you can ride and train your own horses)

I just had my knee done, so no, am not going to the schooling show! I was going to go to the last one, and this one, with 3 horses, but those plans went flying out the window when I had surgery!

exvet
Jan. 6, 2008, 08:54 PM
I just had my knee done, so no, am not going to the schooling show! I was going to go to the last one, and this one, with 3 horses, but those plans went flying out the window when I had surgery!

Sorry we'll miss you. Wishing you a speedy recovery :yes:

Gucci Cowgirl
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:06 PM
Thanks :) Have fun and good luck to you!

lexhex
Jan. 6, 2008, 09:19 PM
I think there are several interesting points in this thread...
Doing it correctly. Especially in dressage. I mean, what is Dressage? I think of underlying mechanics and grace, communication.
*Who* is correct and how do you find them (so many qualified and unqualified trainers out there...)

Having fun

And as exvet mentioned: how to fit all this learning in your schedule and pay the bills!

I have a naughty habit left over from days of no instruction: I look at my shadow on the ground to check on my position when no mirrors are around!:lol: Now, thankfully, I have a trainer, mirrors, books, DVDs, video, COTH...so many resources! Pheeewweee!

mp
Jan. 7, 2008, 04:51 PM
what if you spend many years and umpteen dollars seriously studying and training at what you thought was dressage, but it turns out to be all wrong?

what if you had a great time doing it and was riding a horse that was totally unsuited for dressage, but it turns out to be all wrong? Does it really matter?

What if what you thought was dressage really couldn't honestly be anything close to the Real Thing? Should it be called by a different name? What was it if it wasn't Dressage?

Oy! way too deep for me.

I take a weekly lesson from an excellent instructor who started out in h/j, switched to dressage and just has a good way with horses. I ride 2-3 times/week in addition to my lesson and plan on showing TL-4 at a recog. show this year. (big whoop to some of you, but I'm excited ;) )

My horse is going well -- I get loads of compliments on him and he seems very happy. I'm having the time of my life because I'm finally starting to understand the mechanics of riding.

If it's not dressage, who gives a damn? We're both enjoying ourselves.

lexhex
Jan. 8, 2008, 12:45 AM
A-MEN mp!!! ;)

Sabine
Jan. 8, 2008, 01:36 AM
AMEN mp as well...it's supposed to be fun and make you happy- at least when you're an amateur.
I think reading a lot and educating yourself through videos and training books is a great way to check on your training.
I am also a big fan of lessons rather than Full training...many spices make a good soup- same with dressage....;)

see u at x
Jan. 8, 2008, 10:28 AM
You guys make me feel so much better after reading some of your comments. I recently broke up with my instructor (at least temporarily) for a myriad of reasons, one of them being that I kind of question exactly how she's teaching me. Since I only just get to ride her horse in my lessons, rather than my own (which was part of the reason for me moving barns in the first place!), I felt as though I was learning all the tricks to get 1st-2nd level movements. Unfortunately, that doesn't do me a darn bit of good when it comes to teaching my own horse who is green to all of this.

Don't get me wrong - I do think that she's very knowledgable, but it just isn't what I (or my horses) need right now. Also, I'm giving up lessons for a while to pay off vet bills and to also work towards paying for the "new horse", who is very talented and isn't as green. It feels like the right thing to do, and I was going to have to stop lessons even before deciding on getting the horse. (The horse sort of fell in my lap - I wasn't expecting to buy her, but my barn owner says that the right horse always comes along when you're not looking and when you don't necessarily have the money to get it. :) )

So, I'm taking what I already know and what I'm learning from the books, articles, etc., and am implementing those things with my new horse. Once my injured mare is ready to go back to work, I'll do the same with her and just do very basic dressage and use her for judged pleasure trail rides, hunter flat classes, and maybe do a TL dressage test here and there. The new horse will then become my primary "show" horse.

All that being said, the point is that I just want me and my horses to be happy. I'm NOT happy when I'm not working with my own girls regularly. I'm NOT happy learning things that I can't teach them yet and that I'm going to forget anyway, because I CAN'T teach them these things as we haven't even mastered the steps that lead up to those 2nd level movements! I've only ridden the new horse 5 times, and I've been happier these past 2 weeks bonding with her and learning her than I've been in the past 2 months. The great thing is that I'm finally learning to trust myself in bringing along both of my mares correctly. My biggest accomplishment of late may only be when my new mare stretches down and into contact and slows her trot to my posting. But I'm thrilled, because it means I'm doing something right. Yay me! :yes:

NOMIOMI1
Jan. 8, 2008, 12:18 PM
I am a much better rider because of dressage. I started riding in other disciplines and still do them. I think they go hand in hand in my learning as did the bad training and good.

TBPNW
Jan. 8, 2008, 02:39 PM
I don't glorify dressage to the point where it feels untouchable. I still believe the "old" belief any horse can do dressage. It's more realistic though, that when you watch any large shows, those just aren't "any horses" competing out there. I don't ride particularly large movers, not all of them use themselves the same way. The best they can has to be good enough for me. It's disappointing, honestly, but this is what I like to do. One trainer simply said, you ride the horse you buy. I choose to ride the horses I ride because I like them, and I tend to see from my view, a lot of people who ride dressage "buy dressage", not buy the horse per se. Nothing wrong with buying a good horse to help you along, but it often seems looked on as a guarantee. As far as instruction, there seems to be a type of person that throws money at dressage for the sake of the "passion" or "art". If things don't go well with the horse or training, "it's just the pursuit of art," doncha know. That dressage horse can't even be ridden outside? How many years has it been in dressage training to be responsive, obedient and submissive? Oh well, I would never knock expense, no doubt, sometimes it really just is expensive. But dressage just doesn't automatically mean big bucks. Good instruction can come from the cowboy down the street, but someone has to be humble enough to not care what some other personality might think of it. I'm not a cynic, but I just have run into the same type of personalities in my dressage community. They are embarrassed to not ride the right type of horse, to not have the right tack, not be taught by the right trainer x times a week, have a very good collection of books and videos, but only ride one horse five times a week, and usually think that the pursuit of dressage is the only way to enjoy horses, to the point of looking down on other disciplines. I'm not going to stop being involved in the community, not going to try to change other poeple, .

mp
Jan. 8, 2008, 02:53 PM
it's supposed to be fun and make you happy- at least when you're an amateur.

My instructor once pointed out to me that the root of "amateur" is the Latin verb "amare" -- to love. So, if you're an amateur and don't love what you're doing, either find another way of doing it or pick another hobby.

Made sense to me.

see u at x
Jan. 8, 2008, 03:14 PM
My instructor once pointed out to me that the root of "amateur" is the Latin verb "amare" -- to love. So, if you're an amateur and don't love what you're doing, either find another way of doing it or pick another hobby.

Made sense to me.

That is a wonderful way to look at it. Thank you for sharing that!