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View Full Version : Spinoff: Why not ride in groups?



quietann
Sep. 22, 2009, 12:33 PM
Having 5 or 6 riders in the ring at the same time doesn't sound appealing to me at all...

Hm, this is something I have noticed -- that ***some*** dressage riders really don't like (and sometimes fear) riding in an arena with other horses, your standard equitation/pleasure class. It's completely different than the chaos of the warm-up ring where people are going in all directions, of very different levels of skill etc. But there seems to be a very negative attitude in some quarters, even towards group lessons with 3 or so riders. (I happen to like group lessons because the instructor's focus is not constantly on me...)

I'm on, well, not a break from dressage but a "let's try other things" phase, and am taking maresy to a little open show this weekend to do the novice pleasure and eq classes (in dressage tack, they said it's fine.) She's done hunter under saddle (before I bought her), so I think we'll be OK. I'm mostly doing it for fun and to expand our horizons a bit.

Ambrey
Sep. 22, 2009, 12:42 PM
It is just a different skill than dressage riders usually practice. If the idea is to test the riding done in dressage, an atmosphere similar to what people usually ride in would be better wouldn't it?

How do you do lateral movements? One at a time, obviously- so why not do everyone separately?

ButterflyIris
Sep. 22, 2009, 12:49 PM
I rode in a group dressage class in ATL. It was ok.

I prefer individual lessons because I get more attention and more education.

When I rode hunters, we were in group lessons, which was also fine and nice to take a break while we watched other riders do courses.

I think there are good things about both individual and group lessons. It seems to me that 'most' dressage training is set up to provide individual lessons.

Are you asking about showing in group classes as well?

I've only seen young horse 'material' classes go in groups of 3. Seemed to work pretty well and had the added benefit of being able to compare horses in vivo, as well as seeing how well they could ignore each other ;)

Roan
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:05 PM
Hm, this is something I have noticed -- that ***some*** dressage riders really don't like (and sometimes fear) riding in an arena with other horses, your standard equitation/pleasure class. It's completely different than the chaos of the warm-up ring where people are going in all directions, of very different levels of skill etc. But there seems to be a very negative attitude in some quarters, even towards group lessons with 3 or so riders. (I happen to like group lessons because the instructor's focus is not constantly on me...)

I grew up riding Western and our lessons were always 10+ kids in a group. I showed Western Equitation and Pleasure and stuff, so I'm kinda used to this idea. Doesn't bother me at all.

Many of my lessons are in groups of 5 and some are privates. Sometimes I "sneak" into the arena while the student a couple of levels ahead of me is getting a private and ride and "listen" at the same time ;) She and the trainer don't mind, so long as I stay out of the way.

Then again, I'm not all about competition, but just the learning journey itself.


I'm on, well, not a break from dressage but a "let's try other things" phase, and am taking maresy to a little open show this weekend to do the novice pleasure and eq classes (in dressage tack, they said it's fine.) She's done hunter under saddle (before I bought her), so I think we'll be OK. I'm mostly doing it for fun and to expand our horizons a bit.I'd like to try this, too. For the spooky-type horse, riding in a group setting can even have a calming effect.

Eileen

mp
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:20 PM
Hm, this is something I have noticed -- that ***some*** dressage riders really don't like (and sometimes fear) riding in an arena with other horses, your standard equitation/pleasure class. It's completely different than the chaos of the warm-up ring where people are going in all directions, of very different levels of skill etc. But there seems to be a very negative attitude in some quarters, even towards group lessons with 3 or so riders. (I happen to like group lessons because the instructor's focus is not constantly on me...)

I'm on, well, not a break from dressage but a "let's try other things" phase, and am taking maresy to a little open show this weekend to do the novice pleasure and eq classes (in dressage tack, they said it's fine.) She's done hunter under saddle (before I bought her), so I think we'll be OK. I'm mostly doing it for fun and to expand our horizons a bit.

I don't come from a dressage background and really don't mind sharing an arena with other riders -- a good thing, since I don't have much of a choice.

What I've noticed is that if I'm sharing with other dressage-y types, we can usually figure out what we're working on -- e.g., shoulder-in, haunches-in, loops, circles -- and stay out of each other's way. People who aren't familiar with those figures usually cannot, so it can get a little frustrating. I'll usually just call out what I'm doing, although that doesn't always work either, since they don't know what I'm talking about to begin with.

re: showing your horse in a rail class. Good for you! I'm going to a breed show this weekend and showing in Hunter Pleasure. They're a breeze compared to dressage shows. Have fun!

ETA -- I don't mind group lessons, either. But not on a regular basis. I can always watch other people's lessons if I want to learn by seeing.

Trevelyan96
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:26 PM
The main advantage of riding in groups is you can learn from watching each other, but I imagine it would be a lot harder to do this when you start doing upper level work, as the trainer really needs to focus on the pair for every movement. But at the lower levels, I would think a class of 2-4 would be easily manageable.

poltroon
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:29 PM
I started that line of discussion, so it's all my fault. :D

I can ride in a group, and I don't mind it at all. I grew up in the hunters, with the crowded chaos of both the schooling ring and the flat classes.

BUT. A dressage arena is much smaller than the typical hunter arena, and it's much more challenging to do anything other than ride on the rail in a small area. Only two people can be doing 20m circles at a time in a large court - one at a time in a small court. In the hunter arena I grew up in, maybe 10 people could circle at once with no traffic worries.

For the situation described, which is an equitation flat class, I'm just not interested in riding for a judge as a group. To me the essence of dressage is how well you ride while trying to ride a set pattern, and I would quite enjoy being judged on my riding in that situation, rather than just trotting around.

Eclectic Horseman
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:37 PM
You will see some dressage clinics run sessions with two riders at the same time, ordinarily no higher than training or 1st level. Beyond that level, you are lengthening and shortening the stride and using the whole arena to do figures, movements etc.

I find that even riding in an indoor with more than just one or two other horses can be really frustrating when trying to school more than just long and low work. You and the horse both have to really focus on what you are doing and not the traffic (or in the horse's case "the herd dynamics.")

When you are at a warm up in a show, neither the horse nor the rider should be schooling or training things that are not yet confirmed. Warm ups at shows can still be nightmares--the last show I was at I pulled my horse out and sacrificed my warm up rather than risk someone being hurt.

mp
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:38 PM
I'm just not interested in riding for a judge as a group.

But the Arabian people have the BEST parties. :D

If only the dressage show folks were half as much fun ...

Eclectic Horseman
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:40 PM
But the Arabian people have the BEST parties. :D

If only the dressage show folks were half as much fun ...


I thought that was why they invented FIELD HUNTING. Heh, heh, heh. Now THAT's riding in a group! :D

suzier444
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:44 PM
That came from the context of showing and how a rider effectiveness class would operate. I think 3 or 4 is a fine number -- more than that would be too many in a ring and might just lead to the most noticable horses doing better than the less noticable horses. But I think the advantages over individual classes are 1) I think riding with other people provides another layer of challenge and I think it's an important skill to have and to show that you have 2) you could get through more riders more quickly so it would be practical and time-effective if scheduling the judge or adding more classes or having ring space is an issue.

For lessons -- I love group or semiprivate lessons with 1 or 2 other people, although I like private lessons, too. I like to learn from others, I like the social aspect, on some horses I feel like they like the social aspect, and I think there are some skills involved in riding with a group that are useful. I've done some group lessons where the instructor broke each person out for 5 minutes to work with them one-on-one and I find that really effective because it gives you time to practice on your own what you were working on with your instructor while it's still fresh in your memory.

For practice rides -- Honestly, especially when some of the people riding are much better than me, I kind of feel honored to be working on my stuff while they're working on their stuff.

rugbygirl
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:45 PM
The Dressage lessons I have taken have always been a combination. Some days of the week in a small group, some days private lessons. The nice part of a group lesson is that your horse gets some small breaks, so you can have more instruction time. If you drive in for lessons, it's nice to get one hour of teach time vs. half an hour...time is limited in private lessons by your horse's fitness and your individual ability to soak up direct instruction.

I have also never trained in an actual Dressage school...we use our entire arena, which is much bigger. The school ring stuff really only comes out for shows.

mp
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:48 PM
I thought that was why they invented FIELD HUNTING. Heh, heh, heh. Now THAT's riding in a group! :D

But the last time I showed, Arabian people didn't party WHILE they rode. Only before and after. :lol:

Eclectic Horseman
Sep. 22, 2009, 01:53 PM
But the last time I showed, Arabian people didn't party WHILE they rode. Only before and after. :lol:


Good point. ;) That's why the horses follow the hounds--at least someone knows where they are going!!

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Sep. 22, 2009, 02:29 PM
I've taken jumper group lessons, and half the time you sit around waiting for the other riders to do their stuff. That would drive me nuts if it was the standard MO for my lessons. And we do ride with more than one horse in the arena :D

ginger708
Sep. 22, 2009, 02:43 PM
I am fine riding in groups I guess because when I was younger I rode hunters and the lessons were always in groups. However now that I'm riding in a barn where there are not a many dressage riders I think just one or two others. Some people get intimidated when I have a really big trot going and I am doing patterns. I think some people are not as familiar with left shoulder to left shoulder and they think that I'm going to run them over. So I always try to explain that my horse has excellent brakes and moves of the leg very easily. If that dose not help then I just try to ride at later times when the ring is less crowded. There are a lot of people that get a little weird if you leave the rail.;)

bort84
Sep. 22, 2009, 02:52 PM
I think riding in a group (whether at home or at a show) is a very very useful skill. I grew up riding saddle seat, so the warm up rings were CROWDED and fast paced and very often the show ring was as well. A good rider needs to be able to navigate the ring so that the judge can see your horse. No matter how great your horse is, you aren't getting a great ribbon if the judge can't see you = )

So that's a neat skill to have I think. I never ever feel intimidated if I have to be in close quarters while I'm riding at home or in the warm up at a show. It's also VERY good for your horse to learn not to freak when another horse gets too close or has to pass a little closer than you'd like.

As far as group lessons, meh. I think they can be very useful, but other disciplines are more suited to group lessons. Once you've learned the basics in dressage, a large group is going to make it difficult to progress and practice certain things. Though if you're in a very large ring, a small group lesson can work out pretty well and is certainly beneficial every now and again. It's good for the rider to see other horses and riders doing similar things. Groups are also GREAT for beginners that need to work on keeping their eyes up and steering their horse, haha.

meupatdoes
Sep. 22, 2009, 02:59 PM
I was raised in the hunter world where schooling arenas are coordinated chaos with people jumping across each other's paths, etc.

At the barn where I did my junior years three large show barns shared a medium sized indoor and it was not unusual to ride two abreast on the rail with people jumping in the middle.


I find sharing an arena with ONE other dressage rider, however, very difficult.
Horses are not always ridden in the direction they are looking, so when I am coming up the quarterline and somebody initiates shoulder-in it is difficult to determine whether they will be halfpassing, travelling down the diagonal, or carrying on straight down the long side in the next five strides.

Then someone starts doing zig zags and takes up the entire middle of the arena and I have no idea where to go to avoid them. Every time I try to go somewhere else, there they are again!

Eclectic Horseman
Sep. 22, 2009, 03:01 PM
I was raised in the hunter world where schooling arenas are coordinated chaos with people jumping across each other's paths, etc.

At the barn where I did my junior years three large show barns shared a medium sized indoor and it was not unusual to ride two abreast on the rail with people jumping in the middle.


I find sharing an arena with ONE other dressage rider, however, very difficult.
Horses are not always ridden in the direction they are looking, so when I am coming up the quarterline and somebody initiates shoulder-in it is difficult to determine whether they will be halfpassing, travelling down the diagonal, or carrying on straight down the long side in the next five strides.

Then someone starts doing zig zags and takes up the entire middle of the arena and I have no idea where to go to avoid them. Every time I try to go somewhere else, there they are again!

Yup. The only thing that's worse is sharing a ring with western reiners. First they are facing one way, then they are facing the other and they don't put on their turn signals, let alone their brake lights! :eek::lol:

Petstorejunkie
Sep. 22, 2009, 03:03 PM
Ive ridden numerous styles of riding, and have been totally comfortable in groups, but when studying dressage, your horse demands 100% of your attention.
More than jumping a course with 6 other ambling around the arena, more so than hunter on the flat, moreso than jogging along in western pleasure, and more than when riding saddleseat/gaiteds.
are some dressage riders chickens about a group because of fear? Yeah, sure, but not all. I'll ride my horse in a group of 20 without tack and be totally comfortable, but if i'm doing a shoulder in on a circle stay the F away from me!

Tilly
Sep. 22, 2009, 04:14 PM
Ive ridden numerous styles of riding, and have been totally comfortable in groups, but when studying dressage, your horse demands 100% of your attention.
:yes: :yes: :yes:

I'm an ex-Hunter, and I'm used to riding in groups. It didn't bother me before I started doing dressage.
Not all the people at the barn can steer well, or are aware of arena etiquette [sp?]. Some of them don't even understand left to left. When I was a Hunter, I didn't really care because I wasn't as focused on the horse. It was no big problem if I had to slam on the brakes, or turn suddenly.

Now, I try to ride by myself as much as possible because it is soooo frustrating to be working on our collected canter [or shoulder-in, or extended trot, etc etc] and have a western yahoo be tearing around the ring and doing random circles/direction changes.
I have come close to having a collision on numerous occaisons because people have cut me off, or stopped in front of me suddenly, or started circling on the rail, with no warning :o.

It's a lot less frustrating if I wait until they clear out of the ring, or ride before any of them get there. And most of the time, I'm lucky enough to be the only one [or close enough] at the barn, so I can work in peace. The days that I'm not so lucky and there are a lot of the not-so-good riders there, I either do a relaxed ride, or I get on bareback and just walk.

ETA: I always try to give whoever I'm riding with plenty of warning. Sometimes it seems like either I need to shout as loud as I can, or they're ignoring me, or they just don't have a clue what I'm saying [probably the most likely one].
I take private lessons because the only other dressage rider at the barn doesn't ride at the same level I do, and I think she prefers to have private lessons herself.

Shrunk "N" Da Wash
Sep. 22, 2009, 05:04 PM
I don't like riding in groups because my boy doesn't play nice. AKA when horses enter his bubble he acts out and does lipizanner leaps/bronco bucks across the arena which usually ends up in me hitting the dirt rather hard because he won't stop until I'm off. :lol:

Roan
Sep. 22, 2009, 05:51 PM
I don't like riding in groups because my boy doesn't play nice. AKA when horses enter his bubble he acts out and does lipizanner leaps/bronco bucks across the arena which usually ends up in me hitting the dirt rather hard because he won't stop until I'm off. :lol:

IMO that's inexcusable behaviour and boy needs to learn to play nice. *Make* him go forward the minute he tells you he's getting pissed. My mare hates anything on the small side of pony-sized and used to lay her ears and snake her head when they went by her. Now she only does it at the smallest one and we're working on that.

Eileen

Shrunk "N" Da Wash
Sep. 22, 2009, 06:45 PM
IMO that's inexcusable behaviour and boy needs to learn to play nice. *Make* him go forward the minute he tells you he's getting pissed. My mare hates anything on the small side of pony-sized and used to lay her ears and snake her head when they went by her. Now she only does it at the smallest one and we're working on that.

Eileen

You don't understand the severity of his behavior. He is quite athletic and even more volatile. His fits come without warning... some horses pass and he is fine others really get him upset. He has got a 4* event rider off on several occasions. Kicking him forward would land me right on the moon. We have tried to discipline by riding forward but he can leap around quite well while being pushed forward while keeping his head from between his legs. The safest option for me is to pulley rein him to a complete stop until he cools off. :cool:

poltroon
Sep. 22, 2009, 06:45 PM
I find the left-to-left rule too limiting for dressage. I prefer to judge the individual situation, and default to left-to-left. Left-to-left doesn't work so well when you're working on circles and leg-yields. I also prefer that people walk on the rail and for me to pass on the inside, where I can give them plenty of room, rather than trying to go between a rider and the rail.