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Jack16
Aug. 25, 2009, 12:44 PM
I have actually been thinking about this for a while and have taken a few dressage lessons. My hunter is getting to a point where showing and jumping every weekend is boring. He is also getting into his teenage years and doing 3' adults is getting to him physically.

I was just wondering your opinion on our change and if you think it would be a viable one. He is a sensitive TB. I totally understand that dressage is hard on them too just like jumping but I have no idea what I am doing so the harder, more advanced moves are probably not in my future anytime soon.

He is a beautiful hunter mover but he is sensitive. Will this be a problem with dressage? I don't expect him to be an upper level dressage horse or anything but I would love to just do something new and get out of a lot of the politics of the H/J world. I'm sure there are the same types of issues in dressage too but I can't imagine anything worse than hunters.

Let me know your opinions! Thanks. :)

TrotTrotPumpkn
Aug. 25, 2009, 12:53 PM
I have actually been thinking about this for a while and have taken a few dressage lessons. My hunter is getting to a point where showing and jumping every weekend is boring. He is also getting into his teenage years and doing 3' adults is getting to him physically.

I was just wondering your opinion on our change and if you think it would be a viable one. He is a sensitive TB. I totally understand that dressage is hard on them too just like jumping but I have no idea what I am doing so the harder, more advanced moves are probably not in my future anytime soon.

He is a beautiful hunter mover but he is sensitive. Will this be a problem with dressage? I don't expect him to be an upper level dressage horse or anything but I would love to just do something new and get out of a lot of the politics of the H/J world. I'm sure there are the same types of issues in dressage too but I can't imagine anything worse than hunters.

Let me know your opinions! Thanks. :)

I've had two very sensitive horses that I've moved more to dressage. Both were off the track thoroughbreds. One was a jumper (more nuts than sensitive) who went around in a Milkmar combo bit, who eventually was in a snaffle and the other was a former eventer. I love riding a more forward horse in dressage. I just think canter and it happens, lateral work is a breeze, and so on.

I don't think you will have a problem--just find a good trainer who doesn't make you crank the horse up (no, I'm not saying all dressage trainers do this, but I DO know some). Your exit cue is if all they talk about is "frame." A sensitive horse will not care for this.

CamdenLab
Aug. 25, 2009, 01:13 PM
When I started my sensitive TB in dressage, it was actually easier to train him! As the previous poster said, you just think canter (or whatever, really) and they do it. We didn't need spurs and only occasionally needed a whip when he felt the need to be naughty. Since you use your body so much, it's really a treat to have a horse that responds to this so well.

Jack16
Aug. 25, 2009, 01:35 PM
Thanks! This sounds just like my boy, you literally think canter or trot and he does it. He is such a pleasure that I don't ever want to give him up but I think we are both getting kind of bored with the hunter stuff and I would love to learn something new as I have been doing the hunters and equ since I was 3 and now I am 27. Your responses make me even more excited to try something different. I just have to find a good trainer now.

FancyFree
Aug. 25, 2009, 01:37 PM
I found it pretty easy to go from hunters to dressage competition. Of course I'm only talking about to first level. Initially I was worried that my mare wouldn't like dressage. She loved to jump. But she had no difficulties, again at the lower levels. Our first show she got scores in the 70s. I never thought she enjoyed it as much as jumping though. Overall she did pretty well at training and first. I'm sure having the hunter show ring experience was helpful. She became a broodmare after that.

Are you going to continue with hunters as well? I found that my mare was happier when we did a bit of jumping. I'd have one jumping lesson a week and show at my barn's shows once a month. Kept things interesting for her.

meupatdoes
Aug. 25, 2009, 02:07 PM
There are people on this board who will insist that your horse has obviously learned his lead changes all wrong and has been ruined by whatever egregious riding sins you have committed in your ignorant hunter past ("Lead changes must be practiced PERFECTLY from the get go or they will be almost impossible to fix," "he will never learn true engagement after trundling around on the forehand so long," and if anyone ever at any one point in the horse's life used drawreins well then you may as well hang up your spurs).

However, in my experience, it has not been that much of a shock to switch over from a primary emphasis on the hunters to a primary emphasis on dressage. I still plan to maintain my horses' hunter resumes by wintering at hunter barns (my dressage place has no indoor) and still dabbling in hunter shows, and it is always fun to sprinkle some cavaletti around the arena and canter around in the jump saddle, but I plan to make dressage my main pursuit and have found that if you actually DO both disciplines (instead of doing one and reading about the other on the internet) you realize there really is not SUCH a chasm between them.

My "best" hunter is an extremely opinionated TB with set idea on how he would like to be ridden. He loves to go in the ring and find his jumps and lay down his trips and show off that he knows his job, so it has required much tact and patience to introduce new things. He doesn't like to not know everything, but now that he is starting to understand what I am after he is starting to go back into his, "OH OH I GOT THIS I SO GOT THIS," mode and is now trying to prove to me he can do the best shoulder-in/haunches-in/half pass in the world instead of getting frustrated and being all, "Lady what do you want??!"
In the hunters the trick with this horse was definitely to underride and let him do it, so I couldn't just take over for the dressage: I still had to underride, and it was just my job to be patient and wait longer for the underride to still get the job done. If your horse requires an underride as well, bring your patience along and both of you will do fine.
I would advise finding a trainer that is compatible with this approach.

I actually felt very similarly about him as you describe in your post. He had learned the 3' hunters and was not going to be a 3'6" horse. He was made enough that jumping twice a month was sufficient, and probably even that was just for me to jump around (and he enjoys it too). He was super competitive at local shows but needed a very nice trip for a ribbon at the A's. We had come to the end of our hunter road, so I switched to dressage for a new, longer road!

I do not have a dressage video "After" of my "best" hunter, but I do have a couple videos of my "Switching Journey" with my little QH who is a dear but admittedly less athletic than my other horses on both the hunter and dressage counts. I think the dressage really helped him blossom.

The day I got him. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtMzR3Iz2jA) (Sept 9, 2008)

Getting his feet wet at hunter stuff (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7stlCJI1PwQ). (Sept 20, 2008)

He basically had the winter off and went to the dressage barn in April.

This is him now. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFr8X8fdCYE) (Shot last Wednesday.)

The dressage has also helped his conformation:
Before (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v298/meupatdoes/Jinxy/IMG00007.jpg) (Sept '08)

After (http://i579.photobucket.com/albums/ss235/meupatdoes2/Horses/Jinxy/Jinxyhandsome.jpg) (May '09)

I did not think that little horse would come along as far as he has in one summer. It has been a very rewarding experience with all of my horses. I enjoy both disciplines and so do the steeds. And your horse may just surprise you with what he pulls out of his back pocket! :D

Gloria
Aug. 25, 2009, 02:19 PM
I think your boy sounds perfect in dressage:D. We LOVE sensitive horses, or how do we get that "invisible" aid if you have to shout at your horses all the time? They got to be sensitive. And since you are a h/j person, you aren't a timid adult rider who really needs a quiet horse. So as long as your horse isn't crazy, your skill and his athletic ability should make a very good pair.

Now you need to ask which dressage saddle to get:eek:

TrotTrotPumpkn
Aug. 25, 2009, 02:42 PM
I think your boy sounds perfect in dressage:D. We LOVE sensitive horses, or how do we get that "invisible" aid if you have to shout at your horses all the time? They got to be sensitive. And since you are a h/j person, you aren't a timid adult rider who really needs a quiet horse. So as long as your horse isn't crazy, your skill and his athletic ability should make a very good pair.

Now you need to ask which dressage saddle to get:eek:

Oh that's easy! Get this one: http://www.mysaddle.com/MYSADD~3/Steffen.html

FancyFree
Aug. 25, 2009, 03:07 PM
"Lead changes must be practiced PERFECTLY from the get go or they will be almost impossible to fix," "he will never learn true engagement after trundling around on the forehand so long,"

I never heard the former, but I certainly heard the latter, quite a bit. My trainer once told a clinician "She used to ride hunters" like that was the explanation for all of our problems. :lol: