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View Full Version : William Micklem says WILL WE FACE FACTS REGARDING DRESSAGE AND JUMPING



MargaretW
Jan. 1, 2010, 07:10 PM
"William Micklem says WILL WE FACE FACTS REGARDING DRESSAGE AND JUMPING" in his blog that he posted today.

http://www.barnmice.com/profiles/blogs/william-micklem-says-will-we

JER
Jan. 1, 2010, 07:30 PM
Wow. Wow. Everybody please go read this. A Happy New Year from Mr. Micklem, indeed.

Anyone know who he's talking about in his tales of dressage/SJ training contributing to fatalities?

First example:


There was a very talented but somewhat wild cross country horse at CCI *** that was bought to be ridden by an experienced advanced rider. The one main task in order to fulfil this horse’s potential was to ‘fix the dressage’. So an international Grand Prix rider and trainer was engaged to fix the dressage and unfortunately the result was rows and resistance. After a short period of time the horse learnt to fight the forced shape he was being put in, thrusting his head up and running blind towards the corner of the school. Not long after this, when going across country, the rider asked the horse to slow down in front of a fence. The horse switched straight away to his head in the air running blind mode, and literally ran into the next fence. He fell on top of the rider who was killed on impact.

Second example:

Sadly once again I can give a specific example of another fatality for which this was a contributory factor. The rider in question was an amateur, with a suitable horse who in the past was successful across country, taking care of the rider and having a good fifth leg. The rider had ambitions to compete at CCI ** level and took the preparation seriously. To this end a series of lessons were taken with two international coaches…one from dressage and one from show jumping…but without any communication between coaches. The dressage coach concentrated on submission and the show jumping coach concentrated on grids, related distances and even stride patterns, and the rider became more dominant and did less cross country work.

Just curious -- and want to be sure these are real-life example and not composites.

MargaretW
Jan. 1, 2010, 09:50 PM
I believe they are real-life stories and not composites, because in a number of past posts he has mentioned a very good friend of his who was killed on course.

canyonoak
Jan. 1, 2010, 09:55 PM
Didn't a certain Jim Wofford cover these points not too long ago?

flutie1
Jan. 2, 2010, 08:36 AM
Didn't a certain Jim Wofford cover these points not too long ago?

Yes he did.

Brigitte
Jan. 2, 2010, 10:18 AM
Interesting where he quotes Le Goff and not training at Prix St. George or above.

Does anyone remember Ralph's Le Goff story about that? I think it had to do with Le Goff training one of his best event horses to upper level dressage, only to find out that he was never the same cross country.

vineyridge
Jan. 2, 2010, 03:37 PM
Doesn't Ingrid Klimke say the same thing? She ought to know as she rides both GP dressage and event dressage.

JER
Jan. 2, 2010, 04:29 PM
Wofford and Le Goff said similar things but they didn't cite fatal accidents as proof of their theories.

Le Goff said his horses, when trained to higher dressage movements, lost their ability to think for themselves. Wofford repeated this. As has Lucinda Green.

But IMO, Micklem has taken this to a more serious level.

mugsgame
Jan. 2, 2010, 07:04 PM
I have read his post and I am still not convinced - Charisma was trained to Prix St George and look at what he achieved. Ringwood Cockatoo competed at Prix St George and won 10 x 3* and did well at 4*. Some riders just seem to get the best out of a horse in the dressage and then they make cross country look easy as well - Dutton, Fox Pitt, Fredericks, Hoy etc

Lucinda Green has never had dressage as her strong point and I think though she is a wonderful xc rider I think she has been overtaken by the current generation who are exceptional at all 3 phases.

I do not see how WM expressing this opinion will change anything as the current pros have great dressage and jump xc well. Grassroots riders simply do not have their horses trained to that high a level of dressage and rely on their horse to help them out. I am not really sure where his ideas are going and how they help anyone constructively.

Ajierene
Jan. 2, 2010, 07:44 PM
I saw more where Micklem stated that improper training can cause fatalities. In the first example, he stated that the horse was given improper/to aggressive training.


So an international Grand Prix rider and trainer was engaged to fix the dressage and unfortunately the result was rows and resistance. After a short period of time the horse learnt to fight the forced shape he was being put in, thrusting his head up and running blind towards the corner of the school.

Notice he states FORCED shape. A properly trained dressage horse does not feel forced, but feels that he does what the rider requests because he wants to. He goes on to discuss the differences between acceptance and submission.


We need joyful, easy dressage with an absence of forced, over regimented, mechanical work.

In the second example, it is less clear that it is a dressage issue and seems more an issue of not training in one of the three phases. The rider is said to have taken stadium jumping and dressage lessons and did not take any cross country lessons.


The dressage coach concentrated on submission and the show jumping coach concentrated on grids, related distances and even stride patterns, and the rider became more dominant and did less cross country work.

This seems more of a case of lack of communication between coaches and the rider not being as aware of the necessity to practice all three phases.


He was given less freedom to make decisions and consequently jumped with decreasing confidence and involvement as the rider made mistakes, while the rider in consequence started riding more strongly because of the lack of confidence


He DOES NOT state that higher levels of dressage are an issue, but that incorrect dressage training and overemphasis on one phase, leaving one or more phases unpracticed, is an issues.


….and certainly anything said by Jack le Goff should be listened to because he was an outstanding coach. However in itself I cannot see that this level of dressage is harmful IF the training is done with good steady progression and real partnership, and IF it is part of an overall strategy and programme that allows sufficient time for all aspects of an integrated training programme.

I completely agree with this. I think the increased emphasis on dressage is causing some riders and trainers to work to much on dressage, force their horse into a frame instead of working on properly building muscle and having the horse accept and want to be in the 'shape', using the muscles to create the movements the rider requests the horse to make.

Drvmb1ggl3
Jan. 2, 2010, 08:10 PM
I have read his post and I am still not convinced - Charisma was trained to Prix St George and look at what he achieved. Ringwood Cockatoo competed at Prix St George and won 10 x 3* and did well at 4*. Some riders just seem to get the best out of a horse in the dress

1992 gold medal winner Kibah Tic Toc was schooled GP movements with Matt Ryan and his GP dressage rider brother Heath Ryan.

I guess the conclusion is some horses respond well to it others don't. Horses are not one size fits all... imagine that, who'da thunk it.

yellowbritches
Jan. 2, 2010, 08:14 PM
I have read his post and I am still not convinced - Charisma was trained to Prix St George and look at what he achieved. Ringwood Cockatoo competed at Prix St George and won 10 x 3* and did well at 4*. Some riders just seem to get the best out of a horse in the dressage and then they make cross country look easy as well - Dutton, Fox Pitt, Fredericks, Hoy etc

Lucinda Green has never had dressage as her strong point and I think though she is a wonderful xc rider I think she has been overtaken by the current generation who are exceptional at all 3 phases.

I do not see how WM expressing this opinion will change anything as the current pros have great dressage and jump xc well. Grassroots riders simply do not have their horses trained to that high a level of dressage and rely on their horse to help them out. I am not really sure where his ideas are going and how they help anyone constructively.
You may want to go back and read for content re: the Prix St. George comment. His point wasn't that high level of dressage is detremential to jumping. It was that domineering training to get to Prix St. George is detremental. In fact, he even mentions Mark Todd and Charisma and the fact that that horse did PSG along with WFP and Philip as riders who get the best out of their horses with the "holistic" approach to training he's talking about.

I thought the article was brilliant and I feel rather gratified to see things I always say come from someone like William Micklem!

Kanga
Jan. 2, 2010, 08:30 PM
Let's not forget Wily Trout (with Christopher Bartle) was a Grand Prix Dressage Horse (represented GB in 1984 Olympics) and also was an Advanced 3-Day Horse. It all depends if correct Dressage is being done or "forced into a frame Dressage is being done". There are many upper level riders out there that do the latter, so don't be fooled by people that call themselves upper level riders. It does not mean the horses are always being trained correctly in a classical manner if they are 4* riders.

I think this very much is a depends on the horse thing and depends on the true correctness of the training.

EqTrainer
Jan. 2, 2010, 11:14 PM
seeking acceptance not submission

Submission is a necessary component of dressage. It does not mean forcing the horse to do anything. Unfortunately it has become a four lettered word in the horse world and will continue to do so if people perpetuate the myth that it means being forceful.

Having said that, I understand his point, even if I don't agree w/his verbage - in order to perform a high level dressage test, if for no other reason than that the movements come very quickly - the horse needs to stop thinking for himself and to allow the rider to do so for him instead. *Willful* submission is a beautiful thing. But a horse who is jumping - even in the arena - needs to think for himself because the human on his back will make mistakes. He needs to know he can save himself and will not be punished for making decisions.. sometimes the horse who runs out or refuses has just saved your butt.

BaroquePony
Jan. 2, 2010, 11:59 PM
Posted by EqTrainer:

Submission is a necessary component of dressage.

I'm sorry, but where does this nonsense come from?

"The horse should be obedient, but NEVER submissive. There is a huge difference between submission and obedience.

That is one of the prime objectives of the dressage. This was in the tests given in the 1980's. I should still have them, but they are in a poor storage place in my barn, so they may have been chewed up by bugs or the like. I will try to find them.

It also states one of the other prime objectives is "Harmony between horse and rider".

lstevenson
Jan. 3, 2010, 12:01 AM
Let's not forget Wily Trout (with Christopher Bartle) was a Grand Prix Dressage Horse (represented GB in 1984 Olympics) and also was an Advanced 3-Day Horse.


Wily Trout became a Grand Prix dressage horse after he stopped eventing.

lstevenson
Jan. 3, 2010, 12:03 AM
"The horse should be obedient, but NEVER submissive. There is a huge difference between submission and obedience.



Uh?? Submission is one of the collective marks. It is definitely required in dressage.

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 12:07 AM
Posted by lstevenson:

Uh?? Submission is one of the collective marks. It is definitely required in dressage.

Perhaps from the newer tests ... in the same time frame as the "happy horse" stuff with the FEI rules or something like that?

lstevenson
Jan. 3, 2010, 12:09 AM
It's always been in the collective marks.

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 12:13 AM
I have to go out to the barn for a few minutes ... I may be able to find the tests quickly if they are in the cabinet I think (hope) they are in ... otherwise I am not sure where else I may have put them. I will check.

If submission is in the collective remarks then I believe that it will be in contradiction to the "objectives" that are listed at the top of the test(s).

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 12:36 AM
I looked in the place that I thought they might be and they aren't there. The other place I may have them is going to be too hard for me to find right away. I will eventually find them. Just not for quite awhile.

If you have a copy of any of the tests from the early 1980s please post it. I will happily concede if there is no "the horse must be obedient, NEVER submissive" in the main objectives, even if there is the "submission" in the collective remarks. I always ranked the main objective higher than the collective marks for my own approach (or whatever you call it).

poltroon
Jan. 3, 2010, 01:04 AM
I think also there's a difference between schooling upper level movements and fooling around with canter pirouettes, for example, versus putting together a competitive FEI level dressage test where the count has to be exactly N strides, where each movement has to be done exactly in a particular spot.

Thus, gently fooling with passage, or piaffe half steps, or multiple flying changes, or pirouettes, on a good day when the horse is ready whenever the mood suits, would not require the same kind of submission that a horse asked to do those movements inside the framework of a competitive test. Further, at the just fooling level, such things would develop strength and agility while not detracting from the ability of the horse to think and make decisions for himself.

One thing I notice, contrary to stereotype, is that I quite enjoy watching Advanced eventing dressage tests... but I really don't like watching Grand Prix dressage. The eventers, to my mind, have a fluidity and harmony to them that the Grand Prix horses, to my mind, just don't, especially not with the current emphasis on lots of leg motion.

allison finch
Jan. 3, 2010, 04:42 AM
When Sue Halaz lived in NC, she would take her GP stallion eventing. She told me that she didn't enjoy eventing nearly as much as her horse did. She said that it blew the cobwebs out of his brain and kept him mentally happy. I saw no problems there and the horse did just fine.

pwynnnorman
Jan. 3, 2010, 07:30 AM
Apologies if this has already been discussed/answered, but I'm in a rush (as usual):

Is it possible to develop an event horse to a high level of dressage AND find a way to keep its fifth leg tuned up, too?

I do a ton of longing o/f, which is why this makes me wonder about actual techniques or processes related to the fifth leg. Do UL riders school UL horses "out of the grid" in ways that require them (the horses) to get down to the jumps on their own, including with some pace--or is that considered too risky for such valuable animals? Or are they no longer able to, say, ride such horses like show hunters (on a light rein with minimal interference) at all due to the stage of training or nature or fitness or whatever? Or what about free jumping? Do UL trainers use it? Or are these possibilities of no value to the UL horse because it has been conditioned (mentally) in such a way that such "freedom" might upset its equanimity? (I have known horses which simply cannot free jump or even be longed o/f because they worry too much about the process--they don't know what to do with their freedom or with a human sending them forward from the ground instead of astride.) Or are such efforts to remind the horse of its natural instincts useless because the horse will do one thing when free--or under saddle in non-stressed circumstances--but will, regardless, react differently (like becoming too dependent on the rider and/or waiting for the rider's signal) in competition and/or under other stressed circumstances?

Just wondering.

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 08:10 AM
I will continue to look for the older dressage tests that I have, but it is going to possibly be months, if not an entire year, before I can get to where I put them.

Once again, if anyone has copies of Training through Third, years 1979-1982, please post some.

I still believe that one of the main objectives stated at the top of the test(s) was that the horse shold be obedient, but not submissive.

I do know the tests have changed a great deal since I was using and riding them. So has the dressage. What I see today in the competitive dressage ring does not match up with how I was schooled and I was schooled a lot. I gave up competing when I went back to school but I did take my horses with me to school and I continued to ride at least two to three hours per day so that I would not loose my "chops". And I continued to get dressage instruction from "I" level judges throughout that time period.

Yes, I think that a horse can maintain the fifth leg (maintianin is the key word here, meaning the horse already has a fifth leg, if he doesn't, then forget it) and do high level dressage (although I was taught that it is not a good idea to take an event horse past third or fourth level for the reasons being discussed here).

If the horse is ridden a lot in all of the disciplines and conditioned for all of the disciplines that he is being used for then he should be fine. In other words if a rider has a GP horse and they are riding XC then I would expect that they have spent many hours riding over fences and out on varied terrain. I do no think a horse that has been schooled mostly in an arena up through GP is going to fair well if they are ridden XC without proper training and conditioning.

If a rider is foxhunting during the year, doing some eventing and some show jumping and schooling up through GP at home, then I think they would be fine. That would also include many miles and hours just walking and a lot of hacking.

If the majority of schooling in dressage was done out on the 'trails' then I would think they would be a better schoooled dressage horse anyway.

I don't think you would see so much backing off of the aids, behind the leg resistant high level dressage.

Totilas would not be a correctly trained horse according to the instructors that I have ridden under. Although he does seem to at least be forward, he does not seem to have developed the elsticity through his spine that is necessary for the rider to be able to lengthen and shorten the frame (stride) as needed over varied terrain.

Ajierene
Jan. 3, 2010, 09:19 AM
Once again, if anyone has copies of Training through Third, years 1979-1982, please post some.

from:
http://www.fei.org/DISCIPLINES/EVENTING/ORGANISERS/Pages/Dressage_Tests.aspx
and
http://useventing.com/resources/files/docs/2010_usef_eventing_dressage_tests.pdf

There is a 'submission' section, but from the comments written, in all tests the judge should be looking for 'acceptance of the bridle', not submission. It seems how people view the name of this section is what differentiates how people think dressage is meant to be.

To me, the term 'submission' used to name a section of the collective marks is not to mean that the horse should be meek, but compliant. How compliant is the horse to the work. What the judge should be looking for is ACCEPTANCE of the bridle, of the work, of what the rider is asking for. This is similar to asking how compliant the horse is to jump solid obstacles, or jump in general.

Keep in mind, one of the definitions of the word 'submit' is merely: to allow oneself to be subjected to some kind of treatment: to submit to chemotherapy.
(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/submit)
It does not mean relinquish all power, just allow something to be done.

(of course, it also means this: to present for the approval, consideration, or decision of another or others: to submit a plan; to submit an application.)

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 09:51 AM
Ajierene,

Thank you very much for posting the 2009-2010 tests, but I am specifically looking for the 1979-1982 tests.

The wording has been changed quite a bit. There is a 30 year gap and the tests are not the same. Nor is the dressage from what I have been seeing.

It is an extremely fine line between obedience and submissive according to the Oxford Dictionary and a few of the instructors I rode under.

When I first read the 1980 something tests I had a very hard time understanding the difference. Quite frankly, I did not have the sophistication to get it. It was brought to my attention that submissive seems to cross the line from obedience into a slighly more resigned, meek, docile or passive attitude that has been injected into the mix.

ETA: I think the reason such a subtle objective was initially stated was to make the rider think about it and take it seriously. The difference in the results might take several years to manifest themselves ... by then the rider has learned a few more bad habits to have to work out.

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 10:03 AM
My personal (as a human) experience has been that I know the difference between my willingness to obey (certain people) and being forced into submission :lol: I will pass on the second approach although when confronted with certain circumstances, not all of which were under my control, I have been submissive because there were no other options open at that moment. Young and stupid, don't plan on making that mistake again if I can help it.

I believe humans are sentient (at least some of them are) and I also believe that horses are sentient :yes:

Kareen
Jan. 3, 2010, 10:15 AM
Absolutely agree there is a huge difference and I most definitely agree it is detrimental to a horse's cross country form if it is being forced into anything during the dressage work. Mental sanity is a good point and one of the main reasons I think any horse benefits from cross country work. It is difficult to maintain sanity if you are exposed to the same thing over and over again and nothing else. Not to speak of the physical impact of monotone exercise...

vineyridge
Jan. 3, 2010, 10:23 AM
Shall we discuss the TB brain? I've never known a TB who will accept total rider dominance in a partnership. Maybe that's why you so rarely see TBs or F1s in upper level dressage these days. Reiner Klimke's Ahlerich was half TB, but his dressage training (per all accounts) did not include forced submission as it is practiced today.

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 10:33 AM
You don't tell a thoroughbred anything, you ask and you will recieve the world :yes: my kinda horse.

JAM
Jan. 3, 2010, 11:09 AM
I don't have late 70s / early 80s, but I do have mid-80s on from the lower levels, and "submission" has always been there, with the parenthetical (from the mid-80s) stating: "attention and confidence; harmony, lightness and ease of movements; acceptance of the bit"

I tend to agree with you that "submission" (as opposed to "obedience" or even some other term) may not be the best word to express these concepts, particularly if it is being misconstrued to force a horse into a frame.


Ajierene,

Thank you very much for posting the 2009-2010 tests, but I am specifically looking for the 1979-1982 tests.

The wording has been changed quite a bit. There is a 30 year gap and the tests are not the same. Nor is the dressage from what I have been seeing.

It is an extremely fine line between obedience and submissive according to the Oxford Dictionary and a few of the instructors I rode under.

When I first read the 1980 something tests I had a very hard time understanding the difference. Quite frankly, I did not have the sophistication to get it. It was brought to my attention that submissive seems to cross the line from obedience into a slighly more resigned, meek, docile or passive attitude that has been injected into the mix.

ETA: I think the reason such a subtle objective was initially stated was to make the rider think about it and take it seriously. The difference in the results might take several years to manifest themselves ... by then the rider has learned a few more bad habits to have to work out.

lstevenson
Jan. 3, 2010, 11:20 AM
When Sue Halaz lived in NC, she would take her GP stallion eventing. She told me that she didn't enjoy eventing nearly as much as her horse did. She said that it blew the cobwebs out of his brain and kept him mentally happy. I saw no problems there and the horse did just fine.



Sure, most likely at lower levels. Any horse can do lower levels, but the kind of athletism, quick independant thinking, and initiaitve it takes to do upper level cross country is what is being discussed. And it's the initiative of the horse that can be dangerously changed by too much training for collection or submission.

In theory you would think any level of dressage would be a good thing. And IMO it's only those that have ridden at upper levels that know the kind of initiative the upper level x-c horse has. At that level it's a game of instincts, it is NOT a dressage test with jumps in the way like SJ or lower level eventing can be. And if it is treated as such, then if the rider happens to make a mistake, and the horse is submissively (or even obediently) waiting for direction in the heat of the moment, instead of using his instincts to get him out of trouble, disaster may be eminent.

yellowbritches
Jan. 3, 2010, 11:54 AM
I get the feeling that a lot of people here are fixated on the "upper level dressage is bad for jumping" issue, which wasn't his point at all. The point was that by using a domineering and overbearing training method to GET that high level of dressage takes away the horse's ability to do anything on his own. If you do humanely and with compassion and in the spirit of partnership (which I think could easily be said is why horses like Charisma and Kibah Tic Toc so gracefully managed both things) you CAN achieve both the high level of dressage and quick witted, smart jumping that we got to see in those horses (and other horses like them).

I can give another example of why forcing a horse to do dressage is NOT good, and it comes from our own barn. The boss and I both had the same exact thoughts after we read this last night. We purchased a going three star horse for the boss a couple of years ago. The horse was a brilliant if not mildly wild xc horse, but pretty naughty on the flat. The boss, in an effort to make his horse's dressage as good as his jumping tried to force him to do it. The horse's jumping has gotten progressively worse. :no: This is our fault and we're hoping to fix it and this eye opening article really drove this home to us.

I do also think that this article is not just about dressage, but about how we train our event horses and riders. I ALWAYS say that event riders need to ride with event riders; they are the only ones who truly understand the sport and the type of horses the sport requires. While a pure dressage horse has the mentality to be completely submissive and obiedient, a good event horse really must have a mind of its own (and, frankly, I wouldn't want to ride one that didn't!). An event rider understands that and works WITH the horse...a lot of pure dressage people (and jumpers) want the horse to be totally responsive to them 100% of the time, no matter what. While I'd love my horse to always be brilliant in the dressage, I don't want him to be so robotic that if I ask something that is impossible for him to do that he can't think for himself and do what really needs to be done.

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 12:00 PM
Posted by JAM:

"attention and confidence; harmony, lightness and ease of movements; acceptance of the bit"

Ok, this phrasology I don't remember. I do beleive there was a submission of something in the collective remarks (maybe the aids?), but I am specifically talking about the main objective stuff.

I am willing to concede on this anyway, although I will still try to locate those tests. I believe the tests changed (again) after the time period that I am thinking of, as in they began to change as they progressd into the early and mid 80's and so on.

Someone drilled it into my head 'obedience, not submission' and the only instructors that I was riding under were "I" judges, Olympic Gold medalists, SRS bereiters ... some of them were eventers though, not all dressage.

It has been thirty years since I looked at those tests and it has only been within the last three years that I have looked at the new tests. There is a big difference. And there is an even bigger difference in the competitive dressage arena today.

I do not however feel that my foundation is lacking. Rusty in some areas, but coming back fast the more I come out to 'play'.

I will say that I would not develop my horse in the manner of what I am seeing today. I am bringing my new guy along in the same old boring manner that I did with my other horses and those were considered to be correctly trained, including developing their brilliance, in their foundation through 4th level and that there would be no problem taking them or others up the ladder easily. However I moved and due to family circumstances combined with moving to a third world state felt it was best to pull back from public interaction in the horse world at the time. I have never liked the public aspect of competitivce riding, only the test against my peers, so to speak.

I never got rid of my horses, though.

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 12:25 PM
I grew up as a hunter (did field hunters over solid 4' fences XC over courses that were almost identical to the older style XC courses) and jumper (up to 6') and then did some CT and Training Level 3D. I have never had the nerve to go advanced XC, so I decided to make dressage my real focus.

I do not think you have to ride advanced XC to fully understand the intuitive processes involved. Anyone with an excellent foundation in all three disciplines should be able to grasp that. That is why they can so greatly appreciate the Bruce Davidsons of the game and the gorgeous free-form of the Lucinda Greens.

I have always felt that the horse had a better intuition for the jumps than I, but I was also trained that way.

ETA: I think George Morris did jumping a great disservice when he came up with the crest release.

LAZ
Jan. 3, 2010, 12:38 PM
Baroque Pony, is this what you were looking for?

The (1975) Advanced test used at Rolex in 1980 says Submission:
(Attention and Obedience, lightness and ease of the movements, acceptance of the bridle)

The Prelim test--1979 First Level Test 3

Submission (attentionadn confidence, harmoney and lightness and ease of movements; acceptance of the bit)

tomac
Jan. 3, 2010, 12:49 PM
A little bit off subject but it needs to be said: George Morris did not create the "crest release" he only attempts to teach people how to release properly and not this abomination of a release up to the ears that is so wrong yet so popular nowadays...Sorry, please continue....

SEPowell
Jan. 3, 2010, 12:51 PM
This thread has been so interesting to follow. Thank all of you for your astute observations.

While I'm not an "eventer" I love taking lessons from event riders and using the skills I learn to bring along young ottbs for foxhunting. Between foxhunting and exercising racehorses "on the farm" I've had a lot of experience riding tbs in situations where we really had to work as a team. For me riding is all about collaboration, team work and at times compromise.

This year I had an interesting experience with a 6 year old ottb I've had for three years. When I started her as a four year old she was a bit recalcitrant but she soon realized the things we were doing were fun. She made a huge change in her attitude and loved being ridden, especially if we were jumping or hunting. She always played around a little and I let her because it was just for joy. Unfortunately this year she clobbered her tendon fooling around. After a long and successful rehab I started her again with a plan to not let her play. To do that I switched to a complete control mode of riding which she agreed to. It's not that I was beating her or anything harsh like that, but I was saying "you will do only what I want". After about 3 weeks she went off her feed and started trembling when I tacked her up. Yikes! I ended up stopping with her completely, gave her more time off, and then restarted her following my usual philosophy of riding. Thank goodness she's herself again.

I really had no idea that I could impact a horse so negatively, but I did. What a lesson she taught me!

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 02:19 PM
Posted by LAZ:

The (1975) Advanced test used at Rolex in 1980 says Submission:
(Attention and Obedience, lightness and ease of the movements, acceptance of the bridle)

The Prelim test--1979 First Level Test 3

Submission (attentionadn confidence, harmoney and lightness and ease of movements; acceptance of the bit)

LAZ, where in the test is this located (ie at the top under some form of objective)?

I actually am looking for the 1979-1981 Training - Third Level dressage tests used for the dressage purists :lol: ... I thought they were exactly the same tests as used for Eventing but I am not sure. What you found is closer to some of the wording I am thinking I remembered from the actual tests (not maybe that one of my instructors drilled it into my head and I have forgotten how it got drilled in so far) ...

The reason I am looking for those exact tests is because those are the years that I memorized (obviously not well enough to feel totally confident that I got the 'obedient but not submissive' from them rather than an instructor). I am trying to figure out where the major changes have taken place from then until now.

I think it lies with the submission aspect .. or obedience aspect ... and/or why I was taught somewhere along the way that there is a very important difference.

Everything I learned about dressage still left the horse with an independent mind. That is part of what allows for brilliance in 'pure dressage' .... the thinking horse .... the smart aggressive explosive, but light in hand, confident horse has a very special attitude and carriage ... I have seen that less and less and I think it is the essence of great training.

LLDM
Jan. 3, 2010, 02:46 PM
Submission is the wrong word.... but (and unfortunately) it is the word we have and have been using. I think it is a problem of translation. I have asked several German breeders and breed inspectors over the years and am usually told that the German word doesn't have a good English counterpart. This is true of a number of German words relating to dressage.

One could think of ballroom dancing, for example, when one allows their partner to lead. But only on the dance floor and most certainly not into the cellist. ;)

This is a great discussion and certainly one worth having - as many times as necessary.



seeking acceptance not submission

Submission is a necessary component of dressage. It does not mean forcing the horse to do anything. Unfortunately it has become a four lettered word in the horse world and will continue to do so if people perpetuate the myth that it means being forceful.

Having said that, I understand his point, even if I don't agree w/his verbage - in order to perform a high level dressage test, if for no other reason than that the movements come very quickly - the horse needs to stop thinking for himself and to allow the rider to do so for him instead. *Willful* submission is a beautiful thing. But a horse who is jumping - even in the arena - needs to think for himself because the human on his back will make mistakes. He needs to know he can save himself and will not be punished for making decisions.. sometimes the horse who runs out or refuses has just saved your butt.

SCFarm

fooler
Jan. 3, 2010, 03:20 PM
IMHO
Today we have so many specialists which has harmed our horses and ourselves.
I rode with 'old school trainers' such as Ann Ticehurst & AUDITED with Rockovansky (can't spell - former head rider at the SRS) teach eventers. They both had a varied background including eventing & foxhunting, amongst other disciplines. In other words they RODE! Quite unlike so many of today's 'trainers' that do only one discipline.
Ms T & Rock worked with Prel - Advance riders doing basic flatwork including shoulder & haunches in at trot & canter, half-passes and flying changes. Their way of instruction was to teach the horse to go forward in a relaxed and balanced manner. No forcing of 'frame' - in fact they worked with any rider who tried to force the frame to change how the rider applied the aids. To the point made by
BaroquePony "Totilas would not be a correctly trained horse according to the instructors that I have ridden under. Although he does seem to at least be forward, he does not seem to have developed the elsticity through his spine that is necessary for the rider to be able to lengthen and shorten the frame (stride) as needed over varied terrain."
I watched Ms Ticehurst go from a collected to a trot extension that included the horse extending his entire body and back to a collected trot along with the collected body. Totilas is a lovely mover - but his body's frame doesn't change.

If you are riding your horse both across-country and in arenas they should be able to maintain their 5th-leg. But going strictly to arenas or structured training will lessen that self-thinking required for the 5th leg.
In fact we do the same - too much instruction causes us "humans' to stop thinking for ourselves and depend on our instructors voice. Why should it be any different for our horses?

Ajierene
Jan. 3, 2010, 03:21 PM
One could think of ballroom dancing, for example, when one allows their partner to lead. But only on the dance floor and most certainly not into the cellist. ;)


That's a great analogy. The ballroom dancer may allow the partner to lead, but that does not mean when asked to do a solo dance, she would fall flat on her face!

It is not the dressage the ruins the horse for the ability to think for itself, it is any kind of improper, heavy handed training.

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 03:32 PM
I was lucky enough to ride under Rocky also. He is sorely missed. I think it is Rockowanski.

wanderlust
Jan. 3, 2010, 03:35 PM
That's a great analogy. The ballroom dancer may allow the partner to lead, but that does not mean when asked to do a solo dance, she would fall flat on her face!

It is not the dressage the ruins the horse for the ability to think for itself, it is any kind of improper, heavy handed training.

I disagree. As you move up the dressage levels, you train the horse to become more and more attuned to your aids, such that you are riding not just every stride, but sub-parts of each stride. You don't just put a horse into piaffe or passage, and let it go on auto-pilot until you want to transition to another gait. Think about tempi changes- you are dictating each stride and the horse is tuned in to smallest of your aids so that every single stride you are telling him how to move his body. Same thing with canter pirouettes.

It isn't that the horse loses the ability to think for himself, but that the higher you go, the more you've trained him to wait for you to tell him what to do. Doesn't mean they've lost their enthusiasm or joie de vivre, just that it is very carefully channeled and expressed. Lets be honest, a horse thinking for himself in upper level dressage isn't going to score very highly.

vineyridge
Jan. 3, 2010, 03:54 PM
Dressage was French before it was German. :) Perhaps there is something in the equivalent French word or phrase for submission and/or the untranslateable German that can be translated into English and still carry the right meaning and connotation. :yes:

Ajierene
Jan. 3, 2010, 03:56 PM
I disagree. As you move up the dressage levels, you train the horse to become more and more attuned to your aids, such that you are riding not just every stride, but sub-parts of each stride. You don't just put a horse into piaffe or passage, and let it go on auto-pilot until you want to transition to another gait. Think about tempi changes- you are dictating each stride and the horse is tuned in to smallest of your aids so that every single stride you are telling him how to move his body. Same thing with canter pirouettes.

It isn't that the horse loses the ability to think for himself, but that the higher you go, the more you've trained him to wait for you to tell him what to do. Doesn't mean they've lost their enthusiasm or joie de vivre, just that it is very carefully channeled and expressed. Lets be honest, a horse thinking for himself in upper level dressage isn't going to score very highly.

By your description, wouldn't that mean that you could not even walk your horse on a loose rein for fear he will fall flat on his face because he does not have you to tell him where to put his feet?

Does it mean he will fall flat on his face out in the field because no one is telling him when to walk, trot, canter, buck? Maybe that explains why Totilas is not allowed out in a paddock or field....

No, just because you have more precision at a higher level, does not mean that the horse ALWAYS waits for you to know what to do. This could be a danger as referenced in Micklem's second example of a fatality - the rider spend to much time telling the horse what to do through grid work and striding work over jumps and dressage training while ignoring any form of jumping where the horse decided striding and what to do (cross country or stadium).

Any four star horse should also, provided they have the athleticism for it, do Grand Prix dressage. They will take longer to get there because they are working on jumping as well, but it does not mean that doing Grand Prix dressage will ruin them for jumps - just that to much of controlling the horse will.

Also, a well trained event horse knows the difference between the phases. How many people on here have commented on how their horse feels different under them walking into the dressage ring, cross country start box or stadium jump arena?

JER
Jan. 3, 2010, 04:05 PM
BaroquePony "Totilas would not be a correctly trained horse according to the instructors that I have ridden under. Although he does seem to at least be forward, he does not seem to have developed the elsticity through his spine that is necessary for the rider to be able to lengthen and shorten the frame (stride) as needed over varied terrain."
I watched Ms Ticehurst go from a collected to a trot extension that included the horse extending his entire body and back to a collected trot along with the collected body. Totilas is a lovely mover - but his body's frame doesn't change.

In addition to the lack of elasticity through his body, Totilas's diagonal pairs aren't exactly moving in parallel. Not by a long shot. Two-beat Spanish walk ≠ any proper dressage trot.

I hope this fad doesn't trickle down to eventing because on XC, you're SOL if your horse has no elasticity through the body.

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 04:06 PM
Posted by wanderlust:

I disagree. As you move up the dressage levels, you train the horse to become more and more attuned to your aids, such that you are riding not just every stride, but sub-parts of each stride. You don't just put a horse into piaffe or passage, and let it go on auto-pilot until you want to transition to another gait. Think about tempi changes- you are dictating each stride and the horse is tuned in to smallest of your aids so that every single stride you are telling him how to move his body. Same thing with canter pirouettes.

It isn't that the horse loses the ability to think for himself, but that the higher you go, the more you've trained him to wait for you to tell him what to do. Doesn't mean they've lost their enthusiasm or joie de vivre, just that it is very carefully channeled and expressed. Lets be honest, a horse thinking for himself in upper level dressage isn't going to score very highly.


I disagree.


As you move up the dressage levels, you train the horse to become more and more attuned to your aids, such that you are riding not just every stride, but sub-parts of each stride.

Now, I do agree with that part.


Lets be honest, a horse thinking for himself in upper level dressage isn't going to score very highly.

This is the part that I find lacking.

Here is why. You have trained the horse to give himself over to your aids. Those aids are quit specific. The horse knows what you are asking when you apply your seat, your legs, thighs, shoulders, spine, hands blah, blah, blah ...

However if you completely stop using all of your aids the horse should just stop. If you have taught your horse some 'cue' (which I do) that says it's ok, you can put your head down and graze and ignore me and be yourself ... I do not know any horse that will not accept the offer and begin to graze along as if you were not there.

That is just one example. Maybe not the best, but still you have told your horse that he can be himself again and most will. You at that point just go back to "following the horse" (not interferring).

ETA: if I am jumping and I screw up or the horse makes a misjudgement I will let the reins slide through my fngers. I have given half of my aids back to the horse (or however you would say that). The horse recognizes immediatley he has the freedom to figure it out. I let him lead ... horse is smart enough to get it if he has been allowed to think for himself throughout his training.

2nd ETA: if I am galloping and I want to relax and recover my breath and keep galloping I will relax all of my aids but let the bounce of the horse bounce my legs in rythym with the gait ... horse knows he is at liberty to pick the pace that is most efficient for himself I am applying very little of my aids .... or I can add a bit of leg and get more gas or I can start to influence with my seat and bring the horse back onto the aids ... I also curl my shoulders in order to let them recover (no equitation award there) ...

IFG
Jan. 3, 2010, 04:18 PM
I think that the issue is that with too much dressage training, we (I use this loosely as I will never get to the level at which it matters) induce a condition similar to learned helplessness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness). When the horse has learned to always wait for instruction, and "be helpless," he cannot help himself on XC.

Ajierene
Jan. 3, 2010, 04:32 PM
I think that the issue is that with too much dressage training, we (I use this loosely as I will never get to the level at which it matters) induce a condition similar to learned helplessness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness). When the horse has learned to always wait for instruction, and "be helpless," he cannot help himself on XC.

BaroquePony put it better than I did. Dressage training in itself does not result in learned helplessness at any level. BAD dressage training does. This is also what Micklem is trying to say. It is not dressage training in itself, it is BAD training of any kind.

LLDM
Jan. 3, 2010, 04:51 PM
Dressage was French before it was German. :) Perhaps there is something in the equivalent French word or phrase for submission and/or the untranslateable German that can be translated into English and still carry the right meaning and connotation. :yes:

I'm all for that. I just don't know any French dressage people personally! Here's the USDF definition, which isn't all that bad, IMHO:
Submission: Compliance. Throughness (http://pages.swcp.com/%7Escaskey/usdf-glossary.html#Throughness) and Obedience (http://pages.swcp.com/%7Escaskey/usdf-glossary.html#Obedience). The yielding of the horse's will to that of the rider, as revealed by a constant attention, willingness, and confidence in the attitude of the horse, as well as by the harmony and ease displayed in the correct execution of the movements, including correct bend, acceptance of and obedience to the rider's aids, and a balance appropriate to the task at hand.

In this sense, it seems to be used as the antonym to resistance. But I still think there is more to it than that - at least for eventers - esp. in the context of preserving an active self preservation instinct.


BaroquePony put it better than I did. Dressage training in itself does not result in learned helplessness at any level. BAD dressage training does. This is also what Micklem is trying to say. It is not dressage training in itself, it is BAD training of any kind.

Agreed. But I would go further to say it is a particular kind of BAD dressage training (or ANY training for that matter). One which relies on force and/or bullying and/or domination of initiative.

And this is where I disagree with wanderlust. It is not supposed to be a one way conversation with the horse just waiting to comply to orders - even micro orders. It is about the horse making itself available to be guided (but still in self carriage) balanced unto itself, not the rider. And in that sense, it is very much like ballroom dancing where the partners are equal, but with slightly different jobs. One may lead, but the other's job is more difficult - either carrying the other or mirroring the other dancing backwards (and in high heels) without always knowing what comes next. :winkgrin:

SCFarm

vineyridge
Jan. 3, 2010, 04:59 PM
BaroquePony put it better than I did. Dressage training in itself does not result in learned helplessness at any level. BAD dressage training does. This is also what Micklem is trying to say. It is not dressage training in itself, it is BAD training of any kind.

Just remember that how a horse sees is a large part of the equation.
http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:YqVVPqNTePMJ:www.stabletalk.co.uk/articles/article78.php3+horse+vision+%22on+the+bit%22&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

RunForIt
Jan. 3, 2010, 05:28 PM
Interesting thread...makes me wish I could go knock on Ingrid Klimke's door and ask for her opinion, as well as the rationale behind it. :cool:

LLDM
Jan. 3, 2010, 05:55 PM
Interesting thread...makes me wish I could go knock on Ingrid Klimke's door and ask for her opinion, as well as the rationale behind it. :cool:

Well, since it looks like you are going to have a bit more time on your hands in the near future... why not see if you can dig up an email address and ask her! I am pretty sure she speaks English and Yahoo Babel Fish is your friend in translating German Websites. :D

SCFarm

LAZ
Jan. 3, 2010, 05:57 PM
Crap--I just had a reply and lost it...

Baroque Pony--that is from the Collectives.

Observations:

From the 1975 FEI Advanced test used at Rolex--


No flying changes
No collected paces (working and mediums)
Counter canter only on a 3 loop serpentine
No canter half passThe Prelim test (1st T 3) was essentially the same test as the current 1st T 1 with the exception that it had canter lengthenings and did not have a stretchy-chewy.

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 06:10 PM
LAZ, sorry that you lost your reply. I know we did not have any stretchy-chewys. That one I know for sure. I don't think we had canter lengthenings unless it was 1st Level 3 or 4. We did have trot lengthenings.

I want to find those tests. Ugh.

My biggest problem was that I always rode the horse, not the friggin' test. and I never remembered the letters, only the patterns. I did know where C A and X were and everything else went from there.

I am still trying to remember where I got the obedient, never submissive drill from. I may actually remember it when I am not thinking about it. That is what happens with my brain.

Some of how I ride was instilled so long ago that I do not remember its origins. When I relax in the saddle a lot comes back and then it takes over ... so strange.

LAZ
Jan. 3, 2010, 06:18 PM
LAZ, sorry that you lost your reply. I know we did not have any stretchy-chewys. That one I know for sure. I don't think we had canter lengthenings unless it was 1st Level 3 or 4. We did have trot lengthenings.

I want to find those tests. Ugh.

My biggest problem was that I always rode the horse, not the friggin' test. and I never remembered the letters, only the patterns. I did know where C A and X were and everything else went from there.

I am still trying to remember where I got the obedient, never submissive drill from. I may actually remember it when I am not thinking about it. That is what happens with my brain.

Some of how I ride was instilled so long ago that I do not remember its origins. When I relax in the saddle a lot comes back and then it takes over ... so strange.


In that era at First Level you had trot and walk lengthenings (out of working walk not called medium walk) in 1st 1 & 2 and added canter lengthenings in at 1st T 3, leg yields at 1st T 4, no counter canter or even loops at that point.

Second level had collection, in T 1 you had shoulder-in and reinbacks, but I don't think counter canter was called for until 2nd 3...(and this is vague in my memory). Haunches in started in T 2.

Third started canter half passes at test 2 and flying changes (I think) off the counter canter, and off half pass in Test 3. I didn't do 4th level until the late 80's so I can't speak for that!

lstevenson
Jan. 3, 2010, 06:21 PM
too much instruction causes us "humans' to stop thinking for ourselves and depend on our instructors voice. Why should it be any different for our horses?


GREAT point.

retreadeventer
Jan. 3, 2010, 07:48 PM
I hate dressage arguments on the eventing board.

So much of what we know is wrong, and even more of what we post is wrong! Gaughh!! If it all comes down to poorly translating the word, "submission" - the whole thread is moot!

I think horses crash on XC because they are sore or tired or both to some degree. Add a rider's bad decision and you have a perfect storm of stupidness. How many horses bleed on XC we don't know about? To me, that's a far greater and more serious problem than whether Wetback Tortilla gets turnout.

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 08:20 PM
Posted by retreadeventer:

I hate dressage arguments on the eventing board.

So much of what we know is wrong, and even more of what we post is wrong! Gaughh!! If it all comes down to poorly translating the word, "submission" - the whole thread is moot!

I think horses crash on XC because they are sore or tired or both to some degree. Add a rider's bad decision and you have a perfect storm of stupidness. How many horses bleed on XC we don't know about? To me, that's a far greater and more serious problem than whether Wetback Tortilla gets turnout.

Maybe you missing the point, dearie.

Kairoshorses
Jan. 3, 2010, 09:03 PM
That's a great analogy. The ballroom dancer may allow the partner to lead, but that does not mean when asked to do a solo dance, she would fall flat on her face!

It is not the dressage the ruins the horse for the ability to think for itself, it is any kind of improper, heavy handed training.

I think this analogy is helping me understand my spinoff question. I like the idea of constant, subtle communication between two partners. I need to think about this one for a while....

LLDM
Jan. 3, 2010, 09:17 PM
I hate dressage arguments on the eventing board.

So much of what we know is wrong, and even more of what we post is wrong! Gaughh!! If it all comes down to poorly translating the word, "submission" - the whole thread is moot!



It doesn't get any better over on the Dressage Forum. Really. Do you honestly think that anyone in Europe thinks anyone in the Western Hemisphere gets Dressage? :p Part of it is cultural and part of it is the shear stubbornness of the Americas. I think they blame the Brits. For us AND for the "Down unders". It's a British Empire thing, dontchaknow. :lol:

SCFarm

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 09:23 PM
Posted by LLDM:

Really. Do you honestly think that anyone in Europe thinks anyone in the Western Hemisphere gets Dressage?

:lol:

subk
Jan. 3, 2010, 09:54 PM
Well I blame the dressage judges.

If they wouldn't reward incorrect training there would be a lot less people training incorrectly. Instead they give world record scores to a horse who shows no ability to expand and contract his frame--not exactly a quality one looks for in a safe XC horse...

BaroquePony
Jan. 3, 2010, 10:01 PM
Posted by subk:

Instead they give world record scores to a horse who shows no ability to expand and contract his frame--not exactly a quality one looks for in a safe XC horse...

Not exactly a quality one looks for in a dressage horse either.

LLDM
Jan. 3, 2010, 10:10 PM
Well, there's your answer then! We should import more European Dressage Judges! :cool:

SCFarm

subk
Jan. 3, 2010, 10:15 PM
Not exactly a quality one looks for in a dressage horse either.
You would think...but then we're "old fashion" I fear.

fooler
Jan. 3, 2010, 11:03 PM
One could think of ballroom dancing, for example, when one allows their partner to lead. But only on the dance floor and most certainly not into the cellist. ;)

This is a great discussion and certainly one worth having - as many times as necessary.
SCFarm

I was able to attend the 1988 USCTA nee USEA annual convention held in Atlanta. I was also very fortunate to end up dancing with Michael Page for most of Saturday evening!:D And fortunately for him I did not trod all over his toes.:eek::yes:
Now to the point, Page trained at the French Cavalry School in Saumur, France, learning amongst other things. . . dressage. His competition record as noted in the Eventing Hall of Fame http://useventing.com/hof/index.php?id=16, indicates he was an apt student.
"I" do not slow dance well and was understandably nervous and not 'following well'. Page proceded to "lead' by giving me what I can only describe as a "aid"! Since I had never had a dance partner lead to strongly and therefore did not respond - he gave it again and I followed immediately. FYI-There were times he followed my 'lead/suggestion' in the faster dances. What a fun evening.
So the ballroom dance couple ~= dressage makes perfect sense to me.

JER
Jan. 3, 2010, 11:05 PM
Well I blame the dressage judges.

If they wouldn't reward incorrect training there would be a lot less people training incorrectly.

:yes::yes::yes:

BaroquePony
Jan. 4, 2010, 07:20 AM
Originally Posted by subk:

Well I blame the dressage judges.

If they wouldn't reward incorrect training there would be a lot less people training incorrectly.

Well, you could look at the bright side ...

At least Americans are beginning to be able to discriminate between basically correct dressage and circus dressage in the International arena.

That is a huge step forward from where we were thirty or forty years ago.

NMK
Jan. 4, 2010, 10:01 AM
I think someone needs to study the types of muscle groups and their reactions.

Quick twitch vs. slow twitch, and the training that gives you the otpimum ratio.

I think it could be as much physical as it is mental.

Nancy

vineyridge
Jan. 4, 2010, 10:53 AM
NMK, there is a huge amount of research worldwide on muscles in performance horses. The Dutch study Dutch Warmbloods, the German research is with Hanoverians and some drafts, the Swedes have done trotters, the Spanish have done Andalusians, South Americans have done Arabs and Criollos, and the US and Japan have done TBs and QHs in the US. You can find most of these studies in PubMed.

A couple of years I did a huge amount of reading on this topic, but have forgotten most of what I learned. :(

Between vision and muscles and personalities, there is a lot to be learned from scientific studies of the various flavors of equine.

NMK
Jan. 4, 2010, 10:58 AM
VR--yep, and think it needs to be part of the discussion when talking about the fifth leg training and the type of horse that will be successful at the **** level.

Ajierene
Jan. 4, 2010, 11:42 AM
VR--yep, and think it needs to be part of the discussion when talking about the fifth leg training and the type of horse that will be successful at the **** level.

Slow Twitch and Fast Twitch muscles, as well as stamina building and flexibility building are all important to look at. These are some reasons that focusing solely or mostly on dressage will lessen a horse's ability to perform well at eventing. But it is not the dressage that is the problem, again, it is improper training.

For example, a dressage horse may reach the Grand Prix level at say 10.

A grand prix jumper at say 7.

An eventer would likely be successful the grand prix dressage level at say 17 and the grand prix jumper level at say 10. This is because the horse is not focusing one on discipline, but needs to be prepared for three types different types of athletic skill.

It does not mean that a great event horse cannot do high level dressage, but that it should take longer to get there if they are properly trained.

bornfreenowexpensive
Jan. 4, 2010, 03:35 PM
actually...I personally think most people are overthinking this (but it is interesting--and loved the blog).

Isn't a real problem lack of time and yet still high expectations and demands? (and a whole different thread on perhaps the demands being asked are too much given that our horses are NOT specialists in dressage, SJ or xc).

To get better in dressage...you have to train dressage. Better show jumping...train more in show jumping. Better xc...train xc.

What happens....people over focus on one phase and neglect another.

Bottom line, our sport requires athletes extremely good at all three phases...and Fit enough to do all three. This is tough with only 7 days a week and 24 hours in a day. And now you look at so many riders trying to do this with a young horse by the time they are 7-8 years old.....really tough.

And if you screw up your training in any one of those phases (by forcing things, rushing things or having holes in your training)....you are eventually going to be up a creek without a paddle (and best case going back to square one and fixing those holes).


To me it isn't dressage, isn't jumping....it is people not spending enough time on all three phases, and condition as is needed for a particular horse and particular rider partnership to progress or remain confident and competent for their level. Holes in the training (at any of the phases---and whether with the horse or the rider)...and having those holes surface with extreme consequences.

Gry2Yng
Jan. 4, 2010, 05:06 PM
bfne made me think of a conversation I had with a friend/rider who has a pinque coat. This was shortly after the death of Frodo at Rolex. We were discussing the proposition that the dressage tests were going to become MORE difficult. Riders response was "Bring it!" Good dressage rider with horses that were well trained and successful in dressage. Also one of the best xc riders this country has.

My response was that ever increasing demands in dressage are fine for the super elite. They have already mastered the xc skills. Can Phillip or Bruce or Karen REALLY get BETTER at xc. Sure they make mistakes and they practice, but they have mastered the skill. Add a few more flying changes to the **** test and it gives them something to work on.

For those who have NOT mastered xc, the ever increasing difficulty of sj and dressage is a distraction from getting really good at xc. Qualifications require that you meet a minimum standard. It is my humble opinion that we place all the emphasis on clean xc and reduce either the standards or the requirements for the other phases. We just don't have the luxury of being *just* really good across the country and then letting the rest catch up. IMHO, we should develop good xc riders and when they have mastered that skill, they can go back and worry about the rest. My friend understood my point.


The year I moved up to intermediate. I took the RARE dressage or sj lesson. When I jumped I practiced xc. My dressage scores hovered around the 40's and I always had rails. 3 years later, my dressage scores averaged 30, my show jumping fell apart and my xc was not as good as it was three years prior. I was only riding one horse and working full time. A full time rider could probably hold it together at that level, but we all have a point where we have to focus on the heart of the matter and take some time to solidify our skills. Good or bad at a certain level, too much dressage means not enough xc (unless you are a master of your level).

yellowbritches
Jan. 4, 2010, 06:18 PM
actually...I personally think most people are overthinking this (but it is interesting--and loved the blog).

Isn't a real problem lack of time and yet still high expectations and demands? (and a whole different thread on perhaps the demands being asked are too much given that our horses are NOT specialists in dressage, SJ or xc).

To get better in dressage...you have to train dressage. Better show jumping...train more in show jumping. Better xc...train xc.

What happens....people over focus on one phase and neglect another.

Bottom line, our sport requires athletes extremely good at all three phases...and Fit enough to do all three. This is tough with only 7 days a week and 24 hours in a day. And now you look at so many riders trying to do this with a young horse by the time they are 7-8 years old.....really tough.

And if you screw up your training in any one of those phases (by forcing things, rushing things or having holes in your training)....you are eventually going to be up a creek without a paddle (and best case going back to square one and fixing those holes).


To me it isn't dressage, isn't jumping....it is people not spending enough time on all three phases, and condition as is needed for a particular horse and particular rider partnership to progress or remain confident and competent for their level. Holes in the training (at any of the phases---and whether with the horse or the rider)...and having those holes surface with extreme consequences.
ding ding ding!

Well said, as usual.

fooler
Jan. 4, 2010, 06:19 PM
BFNE & G2Y both hit the major problems with the sport today.

Prior to the Short Format - the XC was the most important part of the sport & the scoring was set so your XC score carried more weight than dressage & SJ.
So we practiced XC more - it was more important.
Today that system of placing more importance on XC score has changed. Dressage & SJ are equal or almost equal to XC. So folks 'try to practice all equally'.
IMO - riding across-country is hard enough to do well, then add the fences and it really become tough. To me, we should be working on this more as it helps the horse to learn to balance themselves on uneven terrain & it teaches us the same. From this 'balanced' union comes the straightness, striding (long/short) and speed and finally that ever elusive distance.
Dressage & SJ hone the skills used to ride properly XC.

I don't mean to hijack the thread into a long vs short format. Just noting that with the change of format came the change of scoring & so attitude toward the different test withing eventing. Since we dropped the R&T + Steeplechase we had to up the ante somewhere so there you go - dressage & SJ have become more testing.

Ajierene
Jan. 4, 2010, 06:50 PM
I don't think the change in format is as much to fault as the change in geography. More people are keeping horses where there is no place to readily gallop across country. I count myself lucky that I can trailer 10 minutes and get to great trails. I only know of one place in the area where there are at least a few acres of available trails next to or on boarding property.

The lack of open property next to or on boarding facilities is not a 'fault' of the rider, just a circumstance of changing times.

A major fault I find with some upper level riders is simply stating 'people should practice cross country more' or 'go on more trail rides'. Yes, they should, but a blanket statement like that without acknowledging the challenges or being able to help a student come up with a plan does not help.

Many people probably should practice cross country more often, but the trainers need to help come up with plans as well and acknowledge the changing times.

Gry2Yng
Jan. 4, 2010, 09:06 PM
Good point. Have to admit I spend way to much time in the ring. I do practice xc questions on all weather footing, but nothing is better than riding over varied terrain.

I have a 7 acre parcel with TONS of topo that I have just fenced. Even tho it is small, my hope is to be able to work my horses up and down the hills and over the ditches and down the banks that are so hard to find in the flatlands of IL. I am really looking forward to doing flatwork on the hillside and also to the ability to keep my horses fit without pounding on their joints. DH needs to get back to work so I can write more checks. :winkgrin:

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Jan. 4, 2010, 09:26 PM
I think that the issue is that with too much dressage training, we (I use this loosely as I will never get to the level at which it matters) induce a condition similar to learned helplessness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness). When the horse has learned to always wait for instruction, and "be helpless," he cannot help himself on XC.

I'm not an eventer, I'm an ex hj-type turned dressage rider. But the thread caught my eye, and then as I read, and read the above post, I was very taken aback.

First, in true dressage, the horse should never be forced into anything. That is completely contradictory to the entire concept. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but then, that is not dressage.You don't force a horse into a frame, you develop the topline and musculature through the movements. Ideally, the shoulder in and renvers and half pass are not tricks to do as part of the test, they are training tools to develop elasticity, suppleness, balance, engagement. And any horse forced into performing movements for which they are not physically or mentally capable should, and will, show resistance.

My horse is an OTTB who is highly responsive to my aids, and you can bet he is hardly an example of learned helplessness. If the horse is doing the movements in resistance, with tension, that is completely contradictory to the goals of dressage, and should be scored very low, regardless of training level.

EventerAJ
Jan. 4, 2010, 09:44 PM
I don't think the change in format is as much to fault as the change in geography. More people are keeping horses where there is no place to readily gallop across country. I count myself lucky that I can trailer 10 minutes and get to great trails. I only know of one place in the area where there are at least a few acres of available trails next to or on boarding property.

The lack of open property next to or on boarding facilities is not a 'fault' of the rider, just a circumstance of changing times.

A major fault I find with some upper level riders is simply stating 'people should practice cross country more' or 'go on more trail rides'. Yes, they should, but a blanket statement like that without acknowledging the challenges or being able to help a student come up with a plan does not help.

Many people probably should practice cross country more often, but the trainers need to help come up with plans as well and acknowledge the changing times.

You bring up a good point, but without radically changing our sport, you can't "come up with a plan" better than "get your butt out in the open and go DO SOMETHING out there!"

No matter what you build in a sand arena, you simply cannot simulate the experience of galloping pell-mell up and down rocky, muddy hillsides, surrendering your life to a big ugly plowhorse-looking hunter who grows extra legs in any direction, jumping hairy-looking obstacles with "do-or-die" urgency. This is called foxhunting. ;) It teaches you to give up control (sometimes a lot...) to your horse and let him sort it out; it teaches you to stay in the middle, out of the way, with your leg on and your eyes up.

A couple times hunting will teach you so much more than you can learn in an arena. Teach you to let go and hang on; teach you that horses are capable of far more than we give them credit. And reminds us that galloping and jumping is what they love to do, too.

But what about the lack of land? Well, sometimes you just have to go find it. Snowskiers in Florida don't complain that there is no snow and demand that the sport should change. If you want to ski, you go where the snow is; at least, if you want to learn to ski better. Maybe I just take land for granted; for the last 9 years I've had access to enough land to hack/gallop for hours without crossing my path. But I consider this space a necessity for adequate preparation; it would be very difficult on minimal acreage.

Ajierene
Jan. 4, 2010, 10:03 PM
A couple times hunting will teach you so much more than you can learn in an arena. Teach you to let go and hang on; teach you that horses are capable of far more than we give them credit. And reminds us that galloping and jumping is what they love to do, too.

This is where I have some problem. I am not asking to change the sport, but wondering if the some people are truly aware of some constraints people have.

Where is there a hunt that I can cap in Cecil County, MD? I know there are hunts around here, but there seems to be no information on them - especially not ones that allowing capping.

I have a showing budget. If my showing budget is $1000, why would I spend even half that to join a hunt where I can get out 3 weekend days a month, tops.

So, what plans can you come up with for someone that a-does not have access to hunts,or b-does not have room in the budget to hunt.

The environment has changed to training for the sport needs to change.

To use your analogy. I see the whole 'just get out there' as telling skiers in Florida to just 'find snow'. No, they came up with an alternate plan that probably involved making snow high on some mountains.

We need to find a way to make snow. Not everyone has the money or time to go out hunting and not everyone has the ability to get out on open land regularly.

It would also be great if there was a training scale, like say - you can school cross country once or twice before your first beginner novice and be fine. You should get out at least once a month for Novice, etc.

The problem is previously, this did not need planning. People that rode were on farms that were hundreds of acres, with natural obstacles and jumps all over the place. It is not the same today. I understand that not every upper level rider is going to know the constraints of each individual, but being aware of it and starting to come up with alternate plans that an individual/individual's trainer can adjust would be a step in the right direction.

A lot of people do this already, but new ideas are always welcome.

fooler
Jan. 4, 2010, 10:15 PM
Ajierene - no mountains in FL - so the skiers must travel to the mountain + snow. In fact for years the largest and most active US ski club was in Atlanta. Due to their numbers they were able to fly to the western ski resorts fairly inexpensively.

If you want to event, you must accept that XC is part of the test and so train for XC. So take part of your competition money and go hunting. Or trailer over to an area where you can school XC & do some gallops. Good grief you are in MD - there should be XC courses, hunts, steeplechases and the like to take advantage of. Check out the Area II website for local schooling options.

If we accept the fact that people don't have access tp open land, that people in some parts country can't school water jumps, that people in some parts of the country are on flat land and so can't practice galloping over hill & dale - then maybe we should just get rid of XC.
You know make it fair for everyone. Then we can have a GP Dressage test followed by a Low Jumpers (maybe somewhere around 5') Show Jumping round. Eventing for the 21st Century
That will be great for telly after all.

Gry2Yng
Jan. 4, 2010, 10:28 PM
No matter what you build in a sand arena, you simply cannot simulate the experience of galloping pell-mell up and down rocky, muddy hillsides, surrendering your life to a big ugly plowhorse-looking hunter who grows extra legs in any direction, jumping hairy-looking obstacles with "do-or-die" urgency. This is called foxhunting. ;) It teaches you to give up control (sometimes a lot...) to your horse and let him sort it out; it teaches you to stay in the middle, out of the way, with your leg on and your eyes up.



ROTFLMAO! Baby is goin' huntin'. Gotta teach him to grow some legs.

Bobthehorse
Jan. 4, 2010, 11:58 PM
One thing I notice, contrary to stereotype, is that I quite enjoy watching Advanced eventing dressage tests... but I really don't like watching Grand Prix dressage. The eventers, to my mind, have a fluidity and harmony to them that the Grand Prix horses, to my mind, just don't, especially not with the current emphasis on lots of leg motion.

Me too, more recently. But I didnt always feel that way, I used to really like watching GP dressage.

Doesnt Ahlerich look like he would be fun to jump?

Bobthehorse
Jan. 5, 2010, 12:10 AM
If you want to event, you must accept that XC is part of the test and so train for XC. So take part of your competition money and go hunting. Or trailer over to an area where you can school XC & do some gallops. Good grief you are in MD - there should be XC courses, hunts, steeplechases and the like to take advantage of. Check out the Area II website for local schooling options.

If we accept the fact that people don't have access tp open land, that people in some parts country can't school water jumps, that people in some parts of the country are on flat land and so can't practice galloping over hill & dale - then maybe we should just get rid of XC.


I agree. Skiiers move to mountains when they want to get serious about competing. If people want to be serious about their sport, they have to make some life changes to be able to do it.

PhoenixFarm
Jan. 5, 2010, 12:46 AM
Lots of great discussion here. First of all, while I agree with the idea that the geography has changed how some people can prepare for the sport, I will say in my experience, people very often don't want to take advantage of the opportunities they do have.

I'm an instructor in a region notorious for land-use issues, and Mr. Pf and I worked our tails off to find a property with the amount of land and terrain we think is crucial to develop cross country skills in horses and riders. We do not have a schooling course, or a single xc jump. What we do have is hills, gullies, stream crossings, uneven terrain, unmanicured footing, ditches and banks.

No one has ever asked to come and ride here, though I've offered it to the locals. When I've had assistants work for me, telling them to take a horse hacking was like pulling teeth--they felt it was a waste of time, when they could be perfecting their shoulder-in, and my own students take a boatload of convincing that hacking out is as important, if not more so, to their eventing careers as any ring work we do. I've had hacking lessons, to force the issue, but I've also had complaints that they shouldn't have to pay the same as a "regular" lesson rate. Our horses in training go out one to two days a week minimum unless its so wet as to be dangerous, but if there is a magic set of language to convince people of it's importance as a skill I've not found it.

I can "make" my students and clients do it, but I've not yet I think been able to really make them believe in it's importance (though of course some come to me as true believers already, love those guys!)

And to the issue of seeing distances. Look, some people are born with an innate ability to see a distance. Teach enough little kids and you'll see this to be true. Some people will NEVER see a distance, no matter how long they ride and how hard they train. Most people fall somewhere in the middle of a long, murky continuum. You can improve your ability (at whatever level that may be) to see a distance with lots of practice, but I would hazard to say very few people have ever made it to the CCI**** who did not possess an innate, untrained ability to more or less see a distance. You simply can't train the blind to see, for lack of a better metaphor.

If you are Bruce Davidson, Phillip Dutton, Karen O'Connor, etc. you can probably get away with having less of a free-thinking, fifth leg type, because odds are 95 to 99% of the time you are going to get them there to a perfect distance. However, 95-99% of riders are NOT Bruce, Phillip, Karen, etc. and are going to not be able to see a distance to some percentage of fences they are going to jump in their lifetime.

For those majority of people the best course of action is to teach them the not small task of how to create and maintain the perfect canter for every kind of fence, how to ride their line exactingly, and how to not fuss with their horses the last three strides as they desperately attempt to create or ride to some mythical perfect distance, and then mount them on horses who have been trained to think for themselves, and know how to problem solve. What makes a deep one or a long one ugly is when it is arrived at without the appropriate balance and impulsion for the horse to jump out of it. With the right balance and power, there is no bad distance, only different distances requiring different efforts. Thus I have been taught, and thus I teach.

I don't have the world's most natural eye. I'd reckon I'm somewhere in the middle of the bell curve, not as good as some, and better than others. Growing up I rode with a wonderful, gifted instructor, who had such a natural eye that he couldn't understand why I and several of my compatriots were so retarded over fences. He simply couldn't grasp that not every 14 year old he worked with could see their distance 20 strides out as we came through the turn. I learned a lot of wonderful things from him, but my real growth over fences happened when I began working with instructors who taught me how to create the canter, and stop fussing about the distance. Because the funny thing is that when the canter is perfect, the distance just always seems to be right there and easily "seeable".

I'm going to go out on a limb here with my flame suit firmly zipped and add that there has been a long standing statement I've heard for years which states that you'd never want to buy a horse from (insert name of gifted natural eyed upper level rider here) because those horses don't know how to fix a problem, because they'd never have to. Not only do I think that's true, but I also think that's why at the upper levels there is often not a "little' fall. When a fabulously gifted person does "miss", that one time out of literally a thousand jumped fences, it usually is pretty heinous. Maybe not fatal, but usually ugly. And that is not a new phenomenon--it has been the case for decades. The difference is that the questions being asked are so much less forgiving that they used to be when it all goes wrong.

For the majority of riders, the best, safest, most effective methodology is teaching them how to create the right canter, line and balance, and letting the horse sort out the details. That doesn't mean just bombing along pell mell and hoping for the best, but it does mean not micromanaging your poor horse so that it wont breathe without your permission. And yes, that problem solving mentality may not always result in the most careful show jumper, or tractable dressage mount.

But chances are if you are actually a team contender, your natural gifts will allow you to make up for that.

All IMHO of course. :winkgrin:

TB or not TB?
Jan. 5, 2010, 01:20 AM
All IMHO of course. :winkgrin:

That whole post was brilliant. :yes:

vineyridge
Jan. 5, 2010, 09:37 AM
Finding hunts is not that difficult. The Hunt Roster Issue of the Chronicle has all the information on who to contact for all the MFHA recognized hunts. In addition, there are very open people on FOL--www.FoxHunters.org--who, if you send an email to the list after joining, will give you all the information you could ever want. Many hunts are very welcoming, since they need people to come out with them to support the hounds.

For those in NoVA, you have lots of choices that don't involve the hoity-toity hunts. Snickersville is composed of quite warm and competent hunters. Besides, if you will haul hours to make training or competitions, you can certainly haul a couple of hours to cap at a hunt. You don't HAVE to join, but you will probably want to once you experience the addictive nature of foxhunting.

mjedge808
Jan. 5, 2010, 10:02 AM
No matter what you build in a sand arena, you simply cannot simulate the experience of galloping pell-mell up and down rocky, muddy hillsides, surrendering your life to a big ugly plowhorse-looking hunter who grows extra legs in any direction, jumping hairy-looking obstacles with "do-or-die" urgency. This is called foxhunting. ;) It teaches you to give up control (sometimes a lot...) to your horse and let him sort it out; it teaches you to stay in the middle, out of the way, with your leg on and your eyes up.

I love this description! To me, the best lesson hunting can teach you about cross country is to stop overanalyzing and just RIDE! Of course this does not apply to every XC situation especially with the increased technicality of many courses.

I know hunting isn't for everyone. I know some people don't have ANY hunts near them or the ones they do are unbelieveably expensive (I got very ucky, our pony club members got to hunt for free). And it can be very scary!

But if you have the chance to go sometime, even on a borrowed mount, it's worth every second. Even when it's 6 am Christmas Eve, so cold that the hunt waived the dress code and said wear what's warm (8 degrees), going for 5 hours and actually losing the huntsman and hounds as he galavanted up a mountain across the highway (huntsman goes where that fox runs!), and crashing through the woods so dense you have to tuck your head against your horse's neck and pray he does his job, just to keep from being decapitated by pine boughs.

Best experiences I've ever had on horseback. Taught me a lot, especially how to think fast with my horse, not for him, and to let him think too. Sometimes his judgement was a hell of a lot smarter than mine.

LLDM
Jan. 5, 2010, 10:14 AM
Great post Pheonix!

I just want to add one thing I think gets left out of the discussions a lot! Some *horses* will find distances much better than others too. Now the horses tend to be more naturally gifted at this in general. But part of what makes a an excellent jumper an excellent jumper is its ability to arrive at jumps well and within the takeoff zone of its own scope. Okay that description isn't coming off well.

Try this: A horse with a lot of jumping ability has a lot more options for a safe takeoff point to any fence - even rather large ones. (Although the bigger the fence the narrower the options). This is just pure physics. A big part of what makes a great jumper and great jumper is both its superior body and its ability to use that body effectively (and really rather automatically). It is hard for some really physically confident and athletic horses to have a bad distance (esp. at smaller jumps).

So if you pair that sort of horse with the type of rider who doesn't seem to know how to miss, I think you end up with what PF is describing - mostly perfect, but potentially bad results from the rare misses.

My point is that it isn't just a rider issue. It is a combination issue.

I grew up on a very talented, scopy jumper. Between that and the fact we didn't get taught the whole "see a distance" thing, I had no idea what a distance was. He could just jump anything from anywhere and made it look great. He did Pony Club, HTs, Fox hunting, hunters and jumpers all with ease. (Althought our dressage was heinous.)

When he retired I got an OTTB. And while he had a lovely jump, he had no idea about distances. He always wanted to bury himself. I had no idea how to help him and it took us a long time to just sort out the small stuff. He wasn't confident in his abilty and my instructor at the time didn't really know how to help us (in that way, with that partcular issue). I ended up picking at him a lot before fences.

So, IMHO, some horses need much more help than others. As do some people. And the limit is the combination. So doesn't all training have to reflect the pair in front of you?

This is also why I worry about some of these upper level people. It seems to be more of the attitude that one can "make" an upper level horse these days. Maybe some riders can, but some of these horses may need too much help and maybe that's what is making things more dangerous. I would think one would need a whole lot of wiggle room in the scope department to be safe on the UL XC courses.

And wasn't this the lesson Teddy had for us? He had a HUGE amount of scope for his size, but he also seemed to have an uncanny ability to get to a jump just right. AND he had KOC as a backup. (I believe she said in an interveiw that she had to learn to trust him and let him get in mostly on his own and not to "help" him too much.)

Anyhoo, really good discussion here.

SCFarm

PhoenixFarm
Jan. 5, 2010, 12:18 PM
Great post LLDM, I agree completely. As I'm sure you know, watch enough youngsters over the years and you will see that horses, just like people, can have a more or less natural eye, AND and more or less natural ability to understand how to adjust themselves for a fence.

We were just jumping a young one for his owners last night, and they had sent him to us to evaluate because they were concerned that he wouldn't posses that ability. They were pleasantly surprised to see actually what a natural he is--very clever about placing himself and seeing his distances.

He should be a lot of fun.

But agree the partnership is important--a more naturally gifted horse can manage a less gifted rider, and vice versa.

GotSpots
Jan. 5, 2010, 12:31 PM
What PF said. When I'm looking for a horse whose job it will be to be an amateur or YR ride, I want it to have done that level WITH AN AMATEUR. If all it's ever done is be ridden by the very best out there, it likely could be an amazing horse, but it may not understand how to contend with an amateur or less experienced mistake. I want that horse to stop if I put it in a position where it's not sure it can jump safely - and I want it to have a very high regard for its own skin - since that translates into one for mine. The horse ridden all the time by the super-professional who rarely makes that mistake might, might, be able to do that, but it's less likely to be second nature.

In other words, I want the horse I ride to have instilled in it the "amateur pause" - the very minor hesitation and assessment of the situation 5-6 strides out. Call it the automatic half-halt, call it whatever, but it's the horse who is educated enough to be a willing and engaged participant in the exercise. That's why on our youngsters, both I and our professional ride/compete them early on - they don't get a "perfect" ride everytime, and I think it helps them mature and develop (obviously, one can take this too far, and it's not like I'm intentionally screwing up, but I do think it helps to see if a horse can, as the hunter folks say, take a joke from an ammy who occasionally picks on down to a chip).

LLDM
Jan. 5, 2010, 12:43 PM
Ah yes! The horse who can "take a joke"! This is a great lesson to be learned from the Hunter folks!

But be careful what you ask for though. In the hunters, this quality adds big $$$$ to the prices. ;)

SCFarm

JER
Jan. 5, 2010, 12:47 PM
As I'm sure you know, watch enough youngsters over the years and you will see that horses, just like people, can have a more or less natural eye, AND and more or less natural ability to understand how to adjust themselves for a fence.

I've said this on here before -- the 'eye for a fence' is something the judges should be looking for in a YEH competition. When I see photos of those winners hugely over-jumping small fences, my first question as a potential buyer would be to assess the horse's eye. Sometimes it's just novice silliness; other times it's a sign that the horse is better suited to coloured poles.

IME, an eye can be developed to some extent. But not necessarily to the extent that you'll need the horse to bail you out on XC.

millerra
Jan. 5, 2010, 12:57 PM
Wit's the horse who is educated enough to be a willing and engaged participant in the exercise.

Exactly (from my AA's point of view).
The most fun I've ever had is been when my young horse finally said "just point, mom - I've got it" - when they've got their "ears on" the fences and all I have to do is keep the balance and rhythm and steer... They know the game, love the game and turn it on when they head to the start box or enter the stadium ring.

Now isn't that why we all event? Isn't that why we love our cocky event horses?

I would hate to think that we would engage in any type of training would destroy that "game" in a horse.

ZiggyStardust
Jan. 5, 2010, 04:26 PM
One thing I notice, contrary to stereotype, is that I quite enjoy watching Advanced eventing dressage tests... but I really don't like watching Grand Prix dressage. The eventers, to my mind, have a fluidity and harmony to them that the Grand Prix horses, to my mind, just don't, especially not with the current emphasis on lots of leg motion.

Me, too. I am far from a dressage expert, and may change my opinion if I advance my own dressage training, but I much prefer the eventer dressage tests to a lot of the Grand Prix tests where muscly robot horses seem to be more common. Interested to see someone else had the same reaction. Sometimes when I watch the Grand Prix tests I feel my own tension building!

gladys
Jan. 8, 2010, 05:06 PM
FYI, William Micklem has just added this post as a reply to some of the responses he has been getting from last week's article.
http://www.barnmice.com/profiles/blogs/dressage-amp-jumping

vineyridge
Jan. 8, 2010, 08:29 PM
With all due respect, I think he's waffling. The tone of the original article and the introduction starting with "dispelling the "myth" of dressage training" in the title of the speech at the conference is not quite as benign as he would now have us believe.

If the second article is really what he believes, then the first one was very poorly written to express his beliefs.

There are too many people who have stated the opinion, based on their experience, that too much upper level dressage is bad for horses who are not always confined to the menage.

pwynnnorman
Jan. 9, 2010, 06:40 AM
First, in true dressage, the horse should never be forced into anything. That is completely contradictory to the entire concept. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but then, that is not dressage.You don't force a horse into a frame, you develop the topline and musculature through the movements. Ideally, the shoulder in and renvers and half pass are not tricks to do as part of the test, they are training tools to develop elasticity, suppleness, balance, engagement. And any horse forced into performing movements for which they are not physically or mentally capable should, and will, show resistance.

Most awesome statement about dressage that I've EVER read on any eventing BB or in print...EVER.

But the problem, DressageGeek, is that the majority of dressage riders don't get this--so how can one possibly expect a significant number of event riders to, especially since eventers have to deal with a much, much fitter animal?

Indeed, the possibility exists that--for the majority of event horses--it simply can't be done that way. How many Abraxases are out there? Horses with (what appears to be) his attitude toward dressage may be the exception, not the rule among UL event horses. So that wonderful idealism at the heart of classic dressage may exist--even in the hearts of eventers!--but at some point, it becomes necessary to accept the realism of the sport.

Anyway, I just wanted to acknowledge your wonderful reminder statement of what dressage is really about (and maybe note one other reality: that if one hasn't developed horses along those lines, it may be hard to appreciate that possibility, too).

Hony
Jan. 9, 2010, 09:52 AM
I'm not an eventer, I'm an ex hj-type turned dressage rider. But the thread caught my eye, and then as I read, and read the above post, I was very taken aback.

First, in true dressage, the horse should never be forced into anything. That is completely contradictory to the entire concept. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but then, that is not dressage.You don't force a horse into a frame, you develop the topline and musculature through the movements. Ideally, the shoulder in and renvers and half pass are not tricks to do as part of the test, they are training tools to develop elasticity, suppleness, balance, engagement. And any horse forced into performing movements for which they are not physically or mentally capable should, and will, show resistance.

My horse is an OTTB who is highly responsive to my aids, and you can bet he is hardly an example of learned helplessness. If the horse is doing the movements in resistance, with tension, that is completely contradictory to the goals of dressage, and should be scored very low, regardless of training level.

I'm not sure that learned helplessness is the right term to describe the problem with training an event horse to high levels of dressage. Certainly the more dressage trained a horse becomes the more he listens to very subtle cues and the more he just listens. Dressage is in one way about putting a horse in gait and having the horse do that gait until you say otherwise. At the basic level this is something that event horses need but when you get to doing higher level dressage movements this timing and dialogue between horse and rider is so exact that the horse is listening more to his rider than anything else. He is not helpless, just focused in different way than is needed on XC.
When we're in trouble on XC we don't necessarily want a dialogue, we just want the horse to save our a$$.

On another note, dressage and XC are different just as SJ and XC are different. It's not fair, nor possible really to ask the horse to be experts in all these areas. Conformation, and mind have a huge amount to do with what a good show jumper or good dressage horse can do. A well bred dressage mount will be able to accept what is being asked of him in dressage much more easily than an event bred horse because his breeding has made it is easy for him to do.

SEPowell
Jan. 9, 2010, 10:40 AM
First, in true dressage, the horse should never be forced into anything. That is completely contradictory to the entire concept. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but then, that is not dressage.You don't force a horse into a frame, you develop the topline and musculature through the movements. Ideally, the shoulder in and renvers and half pass are not tricks to do as part of the test, they are training tools to develop elasticity, suppleness, balance, engagement. And any horse forced into performing movements for which they are not physically or mentally capable should, and will, show resistance.

But the problem, DressageGeek, is that the majority of dressage riders don't get this--so how can one possibly expect a significant number of event riders to, especially since eventers have to deal with a much, much fitter animal?

Well, I think both of you are onto something here.

From my perspective dressage is partly about developing tools for controling fit thoroughbreds in the hunt field. The other part of the equation (for my purposes) is using dressage to help them develop muscular symmetry.

Many many ottbs come off the track with hind end problems and I've found that with a good vet, a good chiropractor, slow hill work and dressage they usually become strong and symmetrical behind and much happier horses. For example, one of my mares begins every year unwilling to tolerate my posting on the left diagonal. She literally rolls me off that diagonal until she's done about a month of slow hill work and dressage. After that I can post on both diagonals comfortably for both of us.

Since I seldom get around to competing, my focus is almost always on how dressage helps the horse move better and also on how the horse's steering improves.

Charles de Kunffy's The Athletic Development of the Dressage Horse focuses on this. Reading it helped me begin to think of dressage in terms of it's physical impact on the horse.

I would imagine that if I were highly focused on competing, my primary focus might be more on how I would use dressage to improve my performance in a competition, making it's importance for the horse secondary.

pwynnnorman
Jan. 9, 2010, 11:10 AM
SEPowell, I used to (25 years ago) call myself a "dressage fanatic," but as the sport changed to something I couldn't participate in, I started calling myself a supporter of "classic dressage" (15 years ago).

Now, I just say I "use dressage" to develop my horses (well, ponies). When asked to explain that, where before I would have (verbally) galloped on for miles, now my reasoning is just a quick sprint: "to develop the horse's mind and body."

I don't see myself changing that any time soon. I say the same thing whether I'm talking to a hunter person or an eventer. It gets to the point, doesn't raise anyone's hackles and is infinitely versatile in its application.

subk
Jan. 9, 2010, 03:49 PM
But the problem, DressageGeek, is that the majority of dressage riders don't get this--so how can one possibly expect a significant number of event riders to, especially since eventers have to deal with a much, much fitter animal?
I think it is quite possible for event riders to "get it" sooner than straight dressage riders for exactly the reason Micklem discusses--it is very much a disadvantage to our performance in other areas to do it wrong. With pure dressage as long as the judges are scoring bad work with good scores then that's all that matters.

While straight dressage judging has gone down the tubes in the last decade or two causing those riders to move farther and farther away from a "classical" ideal the movement toward classical in the UL eventing dressage ring is certainly evident. Yes, we're are also seeing horses pulled into a frame in eventing, but we've always had a good dose of that. To my eye were seeing a greater number of riders do it right. But then developing an upward trend line when you start close to zero is not to hard. :)



You don't force a horse into a frame, you develop the topline and musculature through the movements.
I think the challenge to doing this is not as Wynn suggested because the animals are fitter, I think the challenge is that it takes more time. It's a whole lot longer to go from a just started horse to one that can carry a "frame" into a dressage arena using DG's method. I have a coming 4 year old I started last spring. I've never asked for any type of frame--just trying to develop forward--balance--straight. It's been nine months of a steady but light program (3-5, 15-30 minute rides a week) and he is only just now finding a frame I would be happy to take into a BN test. Most people just won't/can't spend a year.

LLDM
Jan. 9, 2010, 05:02 PM
Most people just won't/can't spend a year.

"Patience is the anticipation of success." This saying I learned from my farrier, who trained Reiners.

It is difficult to be patient when one doesn't have a map or a plan that one knows works. That is the problem we have as a nation - no criteria for success but competition results. The "winning is everything" model.

In other words I think a whole lot more people would take the time if they believed it would work consistently. But few know how, even fewer can teach it and less still believe it really works that way.

SCFarm

SEPowell
Jan. 9, 2010, 06:18 PM
"Patience is the anticipation of success." This saying I learned from my farrier, who trained Reiners.

It is difficult to be patient when one doesn't have a map or a plan that one knows works. That is the problem we have as a nation - no criteria for success but competition results. The "winning is everything" model.

In other words I think a whole lot more people would take the time if they believed it would work consistently. But few know how, even fewer can teach it and less still believe it really works that way.

SCFarm

Great post :)

pwynnnorman
Jan. 9, 2010, 06:46 PM
With pure dressage as long as the judges are scoring bad work with good scores then that's all that matters.

So true! That's why I grew out of it, I think.

But we'll have to agree to disagree on the "getting it" part, both horse I rider, I think. I do wonder where the horse's temperament comes into it, for example. It seems a bit contradictory to me to ignore that somehow ("somehow" meaning in a way I am unable to articulate).

Also, frozen in my mind forever is the image of one event rider after another getting on a horse and immediately putting (yes, in my mind it's "forcing") its nose on the verticle. That's a long, long, long way away from what DressageGeek was referring to--in fact, it epitomizes, in my mind, the kind of "submission" the discussion was focusing on a couple of pages back.

secretariat
Jan. 9, 2010, 07:14 PM
Really awesome post and discussion, thanks to all who have shared. I'm not smart enough or a good enough rider to contribute much, other than:
1. Debate is healthy, we should always be comfortable with disagreement, but disagree with respect. The process of debate facilitates a better answer than either of us can come up with individually.
2. Forcing a horse to do ANYTHING is counterproductive.
3. Horses are NOT SMART, they are trained by repetitive actions. Don't anthropomorphize (sorry, probably misspelled that, I've had a couple of Merlot's tonite in the cold).
4. Good dressage does not necessarily correlate with good XC. Doesn't interfere, NECESSARILY, but our best XC horse EVER was our worst dressage horse. He didn't resist, he just got tense and was a typewriter at the trot. You could almost see him exhale with relief when he got onto cross country (so who's anthropomorphizing now!!!) FATAL in front of European dressage judges.

Thanks to Mr. Micklem for having the cojones to make a post such as this!! Our sport is enhanced by the effort.

BaroquePony
Jan. 9, 2010, 09:03 PM
Posted by secretariat:

3. Horses are NOT SMART, they are trained by repetitive actions. Don't anthropomorphize (sorry, probably misspelled that, I've had a couple of Merlot's tonite in the cold).

I think some horses, just like some people, are VERY smart. Apparently you have not had one who is.


Posted by secretariat:

4. Good dressage does not necessarily correlate with good XC. Doesn't interfere, NECESSARILY, but our best XC horse EVER was our worst dressage horse. He didn't resist, he just got tense and was a typewriter at the trot. You could almost see him exhale with relief when he got onto cross country (so who's anthropomorphizing now!!!) FATAL in front of European dressage judges.

That is a resistance. Who taught you that that is not a resistance?

Equa
Jan. 9, 2010, 09:43 PM
Horses who "have a problem" in the dressage phase of eventing are more often than not ridden by riders with a problem with the dressage phase. Have you seen Headley Britannia's "normal" trot? Talk about a typewriter! But under a good jockey such as Lucinda Fredericks, her athleticism shines through in the dressage arena.

Doing more BAD dressage is not going to fix cross country problems. Doing more GOOD dressage will not fix cross country problems.

Speaking for myself, my cross country problems have never been created by good (or bad) dressage, nor have they been improved by doing more good (or bad) dressage. They stem from not enough cross country riding and training opportunities (and my own lack of ability).

secretariat
Jan. 9, 2010, 10:02 PM
Bullshit. Copout.

gardenie
Jan. 10, 2010, 08:02 AM
"I have a coming 4 year old I started last spring. I've never asked for any type of frame--just trying to develop forward--balance--straight. It's been nine months of a steady but light program (3-5, 15-30 minute rides a week) and he is only just now finding a frame I would be happy to take into a BN test. Most people just won't/can't spend a year." subk

And that's a shame that the "frame" must be there to be competitive in a BN test! This does kill me, that you cannot do well with a horse going forward, nose in front of the vertical, accepting the bit...horrors... maybe even looking like a foxhunter!

"Also, frozen in my mind forever is the image of one event rider after another getting on a horse and immediately putting (yes, in my mind it's "forcing") its nose on the verticle. That's a long, long, long way away from what DressageGeek was referring to--in fact, it epitomizes, in my mind, the kind of "submission" the discussion was focusing on a couple of pages back." pwynnnorman

Amen

"Doing more BAD dressage is not going to fix cross country problems. Doing more GOOD dressage will not fix cross country problems." Equa

Um, don't agree with second sentence. It might not fix all, but good dressage fixes most.

SEPowell
Jan. 10, 2010, 10:06 AM
Horses who "have a problem" in the dressage phase of eventing are more often than not ridden by riders with a problem with the dressage phase. Have you seen Headley Britannia's "normal" trot? Talk about a typewriter! But under a good jockey such as Lucinda Fredericks, her athleticism shines through in the dressage arena.

Doing more BAD dressage is not going to fix cross country problems. Doing more GOOD dressage will not fix cross country problems.

Speaking for myself, my cross country problems have never been created by good (or bad) dressage, nor have they been improved by doing more good (or bad) dressage. They stem from not enough cross country riding and training opportunities (and my own lack of ability).

Well yes, if you're having trouble with ditches or water, you're not going to overcome it by going back to the dressage ring to address it. But if you and your horse lack the foundation that dressage is meant to give you, then you're not going to be equipped with the basic tools to ask the horse to move forward and the horse won't be equipped with the understanding/and muscular development to respond appropriately.


And that's a shame that the "frame" must be there to be competitive in a BN test! This does kill me, that you cannot do well with a horse going forward, nose in front of the vertical, accepting the bit...horrors... maybe even looking like a foxhunter!

Also, frozen in my mind forever is the image of one event rider after another getting on a horse and immediately putting (yes, in my mind it's "forcing") its nose on the verticle. That's a long, long, long way away from what DressageGeek was referring to--in fact, it epitomizes, in my mind, the kind of "submission" the discussion was focusing on a couple of pages back.

I agree, and if you must force a frame in dressage you can almost be certain you won't be able to get back to it should you need it cross country.

These are the lessons green tbs have taught me fox hunting :)

gardenie
Jan. 10, 2010, 10:55 AM
Also, I remember a picture of George Morris on the front cover of a recent Practical Horseman demonstrating correct riding. And it was beautiful, the horse correctly muscled and straight, and I thought, if he presented that horse in that way in front of majority of dressage judges with a mask on, he'd be getting 4's and 5's at beginner novice, novice and training...

Can you see the comments, too much like a hunter, more engagement, needs more round? Which would be appropriate at the upper levels, but Morris's example of straight, forward, and head out should be what we aspire to produce at the lower levels with young horses. And I think a preliminary horse looking dressage at BN, N, and Training should NOT be rewarded, but then it is more pleasing to the most people's eyes that are constantly 'doing dressage.'

I would know that the horse George is riding would canter down to a jump, in rhythm, and beautifully jump, land in balance, and canter on. Not the head on the chest then head jerks up grabs the reins jumps the fence stag leaping, lands running...that often happens with the really overbent, controlled nose horses.

LLDM
Jan. 10, 2010, 02:01 PM
Also, I remember a picture of George Morris on the front cover of a recent Practical Horseman demonstrating correct riding. And it was beautiful, the horse correctly muscled and straight, and I thought, if he presented that horse in that way in front of majority of dressage judges with a mask on, he'd be getting 4's and 5's at beginner novice, novice and training...

Can you see the comments, too much like a hunter, more engagement, needs more round? Which would be appropriate at the upper levels, but Morris's example of straight, forward, and head out should be what we aspire to produce at the lower levels with young horses. And I think a preliminary horse looking dressage at BN, N, and Training should NOT be rewarded, but then it is more pleasing to the most people's eyes that are constantly 'doing dressage.'

I would know that the horse George is riding would canter down to a jump, in rhythm, and beautifully jump, land in balance, and canter on. Not the head on the chest then head jerks up grabs the reins jumps the fence stag leaping, lands running...that often happens with the really overbent, controlled nose horses.

THIS!

If anyone EVER gets to see GM ride, do it! You are in for an education. I liken it to dancing with Fred Astaire. He climes up, settles into the saddle, melds gently into the horses back and you can see the horse go, AAAHHHHHH. Seriously. And that horse will dance better than it ever has before. :cool:

And when GM tells you to "hold him" (your horse) to a fence, you completely understand that he means you to do so like you would hold your frightened child - which strength and confidence, not fear or tension. That your job is to support and guide, not muscle or bully. And while he expects obedience from the horse, he fully expects the rider to do their whole job too.

There are many lessons from the (good) hunters for eventers. Maybe the issues in this thread are some of the biggest.

SCFarm

Hony
Jan. 11, 2010, 05:05 PM
2. Forcing a horse to do ANYTHING is counterproductive.


This kind of thought process drives me bonkers. To my mind the folks that don't force ANYTHING are the ones who are still unable to get their horse to be round or pay attention to them even though they've been riding the darn thing for 5 years.
Sometimes you do need to be a little bit demanding.
Horses learn fairly quickly through good repetitions.

BaroquePony
Jan. 11, 2010, 06:26 PM
The only horses that I have ever had to 'force' into a frame were the ones that I had ruined myself when I first began training young horses from backing them the first time up through 'supposed' 1st Level. In other words, I was fine riding already trained horses, but I didn't know how to get from green and forward and relaxed to truly "on the aids" from back to front.

I was told that "you will ruin three horses before you get it right" and "you can ruin the same horse three times, it will just be too old to compete on by the time you do this" (as opposed to ruining three different horses).

Now, being frugal, I choses to ruin the same horse three times.

Now, I get it. 1st Level is not correct unless your horse has a flexible spine rounding upwards, a swinging back, is on the aids entirely being ridden from back to front, knows what a half-halt from the seat is, has precise clean upward and downward transitions that are PERFECT, etc.. There are a few more details about correct, but that will suffice. I have ridden horses incorrectly and still done very well in competitive dressage. That is not a good sign :winkgrin:

pwynnnorman
Jan. 12, 2010, 11:52 PM
Doing more BAD dressage is not going to fix cross country problems. Doing more GOOD dressage will not fix cross country problems.

Speaking for myself, my cross country problems have never been created by good (or bad) dressage, nor have they been improved by doing more good (or bad) dressage. They stem from not enough cross country riding and training opportunities (and my own lack of ability).

Equa, if there's one aspect of xc riding that I think is universally agreed upon, it is that the horse must be in front of the leg.

You can neither produce nor develop that on course or while schooling o/f. And while it has nothing to do with where the horse's nose (or head) is, it has everything to do with the relationship between leg and hand, and with what is going on in the horse's mind with respect to the rider's demands, which is why the absence of distraction (from jumps, footing, terrain, etc.) of the dressage ring and the progressive nature of putting the horse to the aids is where it happens first. Without the relaxed and reliable "forwardness" created as the fundamental/foundational element of dressage, "in front of the leg" simply has no meaning.

I don't mean to make light of any problems you've experienced xc, but I do wonder if some of them might have been caused by insufficient appreciation for what is really meant by "in front of the leg," how it is achieved and why it must be achieved. Indeed, I believe it was a pretty big name right here on this BB who remarked that being unable to get and keep the horse in front of the leg is the Number One reason for xc problems at the lower levels--and that consistency with that skill in the rider (and level of training in the horse) is what distinguishes the LLR/H form the HLR/H ("higher level rider/horse"--NOTE: I've decided as my New Year's resolution to abandon the polarizing term of ULR).

BaroquePony
Jan. 13, 2010, 12:23 AM
Posted by pwynnnorman:

I don't mean to make light of any problems you've experienced xc, but I do wonder if some of them might have been caused by insufficient appreciation for what is really meant by "in front of the leg," how it is achieved and why it must be achieved.

Amen.

Equa
Jan. 13, 2010, 01:24 AM
I actually haven't had problems cross country (touch wood!) especially recently. My observation was based upon the fact that these days, I achieve far more by schooling cross country (or even out of the arena), something this confirmed DQ hates to have to admit! (And I do LOTS of dressage).

As a teen, I DID do lots of unsupervised XC, on terrain that was far more difficult than I ever encountered on any of our wild and woolly courses, but I also had no trainer, and I had horses that were crazy loons who carted me around Novice courses at God-knows-what speed in their eggbutt snaffles. I would dutifully go home and do more dressage training (and would win straight dressage and eventing dressage by miles!) hoping that this would help me with control on XC....never did. In front of the leg was not a problem then or now.

Anyway, my humble belief is that XC problems are NOT caused by doing too much dressage, but caused by doing too little XC.

Equa
Jan. 13, 2010, 01:36 AM
Secretariat, while I agree with much of what you say, you are somewhat guilty of anthropomorphising when you say your horse didn't like dressage. Quite probably, there are many horses which learn to equate the dressage arena with tension, but who are allowed to enjoy the adrenaline rush of XC without being micro managed by neurotic riders.

It is sad when judges/riders/trainers believe that dressage is some weird, forced way of going. IF you ride and train dressage really well, it should not be any different to the way that you would ride your horse at slower speeds out on cross country terrain, or between showjumps. It SHOULD just be a balanced, natural way of going, and depending on the individual horse's conformation (one designed for the job should find it easier) the capacity to do a good-scoring low level test should not take years to achieve, nor should it require force

Ajierene
Jan. 13, 2010, 08:48 AM
I understand Pwynnorman's concerns about learning to truly get the horse infront of the leg, but I also completely understand where Equa is going.

As an example - I am good with dressage, I understand in front of leg and using leg and seat aids over rein, etc. BUT, if I am out on cross country and encounter a scary jump, I have a tendency to take my leg off. This is not an issue with lack of understanding of leg, this is an issue of a bad habit.

This bad habit will not be improved with dressage. This bad habit can only be improved with practicing scary jumps and being aware of what I am doing with my leg, seat and hand while approaching said scary jump.

As Micklem and Equa are saying. It is not about practicing dressage or asking higher level movements of a horse, it is about NOT going out and schooling cross country. In other words good dressage does not equate bad cross country, bad cross country or not practicing cross country is the only thing that equates to bad cross country. Leaving aside general bad training (cross country, dressage, or stadium jumping).

I also agree with the statements that the horses that do not seem to like dressage are ridden by riders that do not seem to like dressage. You get tense, horse gets tense, you take shortcuts to practice dressage less, your horse is not trained properly to be relaxed.

lstevenson
Jan. 13, 2010, 08:03 PM
As Micklem and Equa are saying. It is not about practicing dressage or asking higher level movements of a horse, it is about NOT going out and schooling cross country.


Sorry, but no way have any of the recent years bad falls been caused by not enough x-c schooling.

While young horses at lower levels need plenty, upper level horses do NOT need to x-c school very often. I used to school my Advanced horse x-c twice a year, usually once in the spring and once in the fall, before each season started. And he never even came close to falling in his 12 years of eventing with me, with 9 of those years at upper levels. We practiced our x-c skills over show jumps, and spent the majority of our riding time hacking, doing conditioning work, and doing dressage.

The problem is the mind set that riders/trainers are tending to ride and train with nowadays. Trying to make the horses so subservient that they become totally reliant on their riders, don't think for themselves, and only put their feet where they are told. When horses are in this state, they are just accidents waiting to happen when the rider makes a mistake.

Riders can easily train the horses to think for themselves over show jumps if x-c jumps are not readily available. IF they try to.

BaroquePony
Jan. 13, 2010, 09:11 PM
Posted by lsteveson:

The problem is the mind set that riders/trainers are tending to ride and train with nowadays. Trying to make the horses so subservient that they become totally reliant on their riders, don't think for themselves, and only put their feet where they are told. When horses are in this state, they are just accidents waiting to happen when the rider makes a mistake.

This actually is the heart of the problem of "picking your spot" rather than "seeing your spot" (or gauging your spot).

The rider seems to not trust his horse's judgement in seeing and knowing the take of "zone" that works best for the horse. Most horses can jump much more easily without the rider (gee, I wonder why). They are born to see long distances going at a high rate of speed with a twelve to fifteen foot or more stride. They are "hard wired" in that their vision matches their stride. The human's vision is different, but then they aren't born to gallop with a 12-15' or greater galloping stride. You do the math. Who is going to judge the jump better? Now there is some variation in technical jumps that are optical illusions for the horse or blind jumps ... that is where the real skill of the rider would enter the picture, but that is why the rider walks off the course. That is the only time the horse should 'give himself over' to the rider.

The law of percentages is going against the rider that judges every jump with human eyes - the rider who "picks the spot" rather than "sees the spot".

The rider must first and foremeost trust the horse he is jumping. If that horse is not good at it then the rider must find a horse that is good at it or they risk a much higher percentage of serious accidents.

(I may have the stride lengths off because I haven't measured any in a long time, but you get the picture).

Equa
Jan. 13, 2010, 10:09 PM
But "practicing cross country" can mean a lot more than actually training over cross country courses, and I suspect that this is at the crux of some of the criticism by the learned ones. Getting out and riding at speed over varied terrain is probably part of the missing link - it was done more often when we had the long format, as was galloping at higher than XC speeds....

Ajierene
Jan. 14, 2010, 04:49 PM
Sorry, but no way have any of the recent years bad falls been caused by not enough x-c schooling.

While young horses at lower levels need plenty, upper level horses do NOT need to x-c school very often. I used to school my Advanced horse x-c twice a year, usually once in the spring and once in the fall, before each season started. And he never even came close to falling in his 12 years of eventing with me, with 9 of those years at upper levels. We practiced our x-c skills over show jumps, and spent the majority of our riding time hacking, doing conditioning work, and doing dressage.

The problem is the mind set that riders/trainers are tending to ride and train with nowadays. Trying to make the horses so subservient that they become totally reliant on their riders, don't think for themselves, and only put their feet where they are told. When horses are in this state, they are just accidents waiting to happen when the rider makes a mistake.

Riders can easily train the horses to think for themselves over show jumps if x-c jumps are not readily available. IF they try to.

I'm not sure you get what I was saying in my post. I was talking about someone who has problems in cross country. You probably did not need to school actual jumps much because you and your horse had no issues. Think back, though, how many times did you school cross country jumps when you first started? Probably more than twice a season. Not that you, or I, go out every week or should go out every week. Finding an issue in cross country and trying to fix it by doing something else is not going to work. I did not get over my fear of trakehners by doing dressage or jumping stadium - I had to jump trakehners. Not every week, maybe once a month I went out, or a bit less. Sometimes the schooling replaced a horse trials.

I completely agree that riders do have a tendency to make horses to subservient, but that is not an effect of dressage, that is an effect of bad training.

Also, read Equa's post ride above mine - trail riding lets you practice running over varied terrain as well. 'Practicing cross country' is not limited to 'jumping cross country jumps'. As another example, fear of galloping downhill is not going to be fixed in an arena and has nothing to do with good or bad dressage training.

I will not touch any speculation on why there have been falls recently. I will say, I can pretty much guarantee it was not from good dressage training.

lstevenson
Jan. 14, 2010, 09:29 PM
I completely agree that riders do have a tendency to make horses to subservient, but that is not an effect of dressage, that is an effect of bad training.

Also, read Equa's post ride above mine - trail riding lets you practice running over varied terrain as well. 'Practicing cross country' is not limited to 'jumping cross country jumps'. As another example, fear of galloping downhill is not going to be fixed in an arena and has nothing to do with good or bad dressage training.


Dressage training, even good dressage, at upper levels, does make a horse subservient/submissive to a large degree. And especially if the rider carries over that mind set into their jumping work, that horse becomes to reliant on it's rider, and it's natural instincts to take care of itself are diminished.

And you are right, when there are issues like fear of galloping downhill, or fear of Trakheners, then there is no substitute for practicing them. And yes, young or inexperienced horses and riders need lots of time hacking and schooling over varying terrain and x-c jumps.

But I thought the issue we are all discussing here is all of the recent falls and deaths which are happening at the upper levels. And riders and horses at those levels do not need to practice more x-c or even hacking. Upper level horses and riders have no issues with negotiating the terrain. That is not what is causing them to flip over their fences.

The two biggest issues causing these problems IMO are current course design, and the rider/trainer mentallity of telling the horse where to put his feet.

Equa
Jan. 15, 2010, 05:16 AM
Have a look at this - helmet cam at 3*** level.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiMePuCWBJI

frugalannie
Jan. 15, 2010, 10:11 AM
WOW. That was great!
Thanks for posting the link.

ACMEeventing
Jan. 15, 2010, 10:42 AM
That link was incredible! Really gives you a feel for the forward yet quiet riding that we aspire to. Thanks!

pwynnnorman
Jan. 16, 2010, 09:35 PM
I understand Pwynnorman's concerns about learning to truly get the horse infront of the leg, but I also completely understand where Equa is going.

As an example - I am good with dressage, I understand in front of leg and using leg and seat aids over rein, etc. BUT, if I am out on cross country and encounter a scary jump, I have a tendency to take my leg off. This is not an issue with lack of understanding of leg, this is an issue of a bad habit.


Ah, I get what you mean now, Ajierene (and Equa). But aren't you, therefore, refering more to rider issues than horse ones? I'm thinking about evidence to the contrary in the horse (and this just occurred to me and may not lead anywhere): for example, show jumpers who make VERY quick work of the lower levels.



"The law of percentages is going against the rider that judges every jump with human eyes - the rider who "picks the spot" rather than "sees the spot".


BaroquePony, I used to be a fervent advocate of riders who can "pick" their spots, especially higher level riders. I still am, because I still can't get over the fact that it's the rider who walks the course (and so knows what's coming related to the jump in sight). However, spending time deep into hunters has given me a greater appreciation for the connection between the horse's motor and the rider's eye. Not to sound like a broken record, but that motor thing is related to getting the horse in front of the leg (except it's not quite the same thing in hunters where I feel like it's more a "mental" thing in the hunter and physical one in the eventer--hard to describe what I mean there, though).

Anyway, I've always thought of it, for myself, as the difference between dithering and being committed (akin to Micklem's "ownership" concept, I suppose--but not quite the same thing in this context), and these days, I see how it can be applied to both sports: regardless of pace or environment, it is just plain easier to "see" a distance on (and with) a committed ride than a dithering one!

But in the end, isn't the real key to the sport not how advanced the dressage becomes or how tricky the courses, but rather getting the experience or guidance to make judgments about the nature of the horse beneath? Surely that HAS to be the key to this sport at the higher levels--and everything else is secondary. Surely. As someone pointed out, just look at hot-headed, dressage-queen/xc-machine Headley Britania. IIRC, both Andrew Nicholson and Mark Todd have implied these things in their writing/interviews: that taking on too many horses (so you don't know some of them very well) and/or misjudging the horse may have a lot more to do with xc success or failure than other stuff, like the impact of too much dressage.

OK, I'm really just talking to myself here, so I'm going off on a tangent...Micklem also talks about "mechanical" training techniques. Well, maybe that's how some riders, subconsciously (?), produce horses they are familiar with and therefore can "judge" effectively? And if the horse can't handle the program, it is either forced to, which is problematic, or is tossed out of the program? Either way, the rider doesn't grow much, but perhaps in unaware of that. (I just realized I may be projecting some recent experiences into these musings bevause I'm grappling with this issue in a hunter area right now).

Is it possible that, even more than mechanical training, the pressures of modern eventing (including the business of eventing) produces a degree of "programmatic" training, a one-size-fits-all process (not just techniques), adopted for its efficiencies but missing the kind of adaptations which produce flexibility and judgement (in both horse and rider)?

Equa
Jan. 17, 2010, 03:10 AM
Apparently the rider in the helmet cam video used to be so concerned that he thought he couldn't see a spot, that he spent the whole time counting down from 20 before a fence. Didn't matter if he jumped at 12 or 7 or 3 or 1 - it gave him confidence in the horse - and a sense of the rhythm!

Ajierene
Jan. 17, 2010, 08:03 AM
Dressage training, even good dressage, at upper levels, does make a horse subservient/submissive to a large degree. And especially if the rider carries over that mind set into their jumping work, that horse becomes to reliant on it's rider, and it's natural instincts to take care of itself are diminished.

The problem I see with this statement is the lack of any proof. There are not records of consistently stellar dressage from the horse/rider combinations that have been involved in recent falls. Furthermore, according to a book posted in another thread, the 1978 Rolex had very similar issues. If the issue is not rider related, it seems to be course design/flow. No where do I see any proof of any sort that learning higher levels of dressage was the problem. Where do you find this proof?


The two biggest issues causing these problems IMO are current course design, and the rider/trainer mentallity of telling the horse where to put his feet.

I completely agree with you about this. I just do not see where dressage in itself is the problem. Dressage is not designed to make a horse subservient, it is a partnership. It is just like any other riding - designed to further the partnership between horse and rider.


Ah, I get what you mean now, Ajierene (and Equa). But aren't you, therefore, refering more to rider issues than horse ones? I'm thinking about evidence to the contrary in the horse (and this just occurred to me and may not lead anywhere): for example, show jumpers who make VERY quick work of the lower levels

I understand the thought process that those more skilled at upper level riding may not need as much cross country schooling and my not have the issues others do, but this may also result in a false sense of security for the rider. If you have brought 10 horses of similar personalities along in a certain program, you may think nothing of horse 11 with similar personality. To late you find out he relies on you to much, has not had enough cross country exposure (even though he has had the same as the first 10), etc.

Also, look back to Micklem's second example of a rider death. The rider assumed she knew about cross country and did not need to practice it. So she spent to much time in the arena and her cross country ride was a disaster. I did not read it as 'to much dressage', but not enough cross country and using instructors that are not communicating with each other or participate in the sport the girl was training for. This was Micklem's point - not to much dressage, but not putting the three phases together and using instructors that did not participate in the sport, communicate, or consider putting the three phases together.

I cannot help you with jumpers that moved up the levels quickly, but I would be interested to see where that goes.

I do also believe the greatest danger with increase emphasis and difficulty in dressage has caused some riders and/or trainers to take dressage shortcuts to get the horse to the level at the same age as 10 years ago. Say before the changes, the horse could be successful at Prelim at 6, now it is more likely he should wait until 7. The rider does not want to wait so the rider takes shortcuts, which equates to bad training which equates to problems in all three phases.

lstevenson
Jan. 17, 2010, 01:32 PM
The problem I see with this statement is the lack of any proof. There are not records of consistently stellar dressage from the horse/rider combinations that have been involved in recent falls. Furthermore, according to a book posted in another thread, the 1978 Rolex had very similar issues. If the issue is not rider related, it seems to be course design/flow. No where do I see any proof of any sort that learning higher levels of dressage was the problem. Where do you find this proof?



The "proof" is that riders who have been at the top levels can feel their horses changing when dressage goes past a certain point. They don't have to be winning the dressage (although it is quite true that the winning dressage horse will often have issues on x-c), it's about the level of collection asked for. Once over a certain line, the horse tends to give himself to his rider completely. And THAT is when the horse is a changed x-c horse. He may never actually fall, but he might start stopping (because he's not as good at getting himself out of trouble anymore), or his rider can just feel that he is not the same...his initiative is subdued.


You obviously didn't hear Lucinda Green's keynote speech last year at the convention? She talks about this and gives several examples of "proof".

And here is a quote from Jimmy Wofford:

"Take collection, for example. When a horse enters into collection he begins to surrender his body to his rider, and he begins to surrender his initiative as well. Two of my Olympic coaches, Jack LeGoff and Joe Lynch, told me not to go too deeply into collection because it would make the horse reliant on me.

Jack used to tell the story of winning the French Eventing Championships on a mare who showed real promise. Jack was stationed with the Cadre Noir at the time, so the following winter it was easy for him to delve deeper into dressage, and he succeeded. "After that," Jack said, "she was never the same." Meaning that the mare had begun to wait to be told what to do across country. This excellent horseman immediately sensed what had happened and thereafter warned his riders against too much collection.

Other dressage experts, including Reiner Klimke, have mentioned to me that when we truly and correctly collect our horses, we also subdue their initiative. Old time dressage experts used to say that the well trained dressage horse "appeared" to produce the movements of the test by itself. But the movements are in reality a result of the application of our aids, and the horse's response to those aids."


And the issues with the 1978 World Championships were completely different. Those had to do with the high heat and humidity and the x-c course itself. Mostly one fence, the Serpent. It had a false ground line and produced many falls.

It drives me nuts when people sit on the sidelines and think "logically" that it doesn't make sense that high levels of dressage would change the way the horse thinks for himself on x-c, and totally disregard the voices of top riders who have actually FELT it happening.

I can also tell you that I have felt it. My top horse was a great x-c horse, always thought about his footwork. And when he started producing real collection, I could feel that he would wait for me to tell him what to do on x-c just a bit more. It was subtle, and nothing bad ever happened. But I have no doubts that if I had kept increasing the levels of collection and schooling for that, that his initiative would have diminished even more.

There is no doubt that dressage is good basic training for horses that jump. But IMO and in others who have felt it, there is a line you cross in upper level dressage that changes a horse's mentality, and makes him more submissive and reliant on his rider. Which can become a problem at top levels of x-c.

quietann
Jan. 17, 2010, 05:22 PM
Apparently the rider in the helmet cam video used to be so concerned that he thought he couldn't see a spot, that he spent the whole time counting down from 20 before a fence. Didn't matter if he jumped at 12 or 7 or 3 or 1 - it gave him confidence in the horse - and a sense of the rhythm!

I did that when I was jumping, quite a bit. I was riding a horse who needed a lot of leg over fences or he'd stop, and talking to him helped keep me from getting tense about it. Sometimes I just counted down strides, sometimes I talked *to* the horse. And I told him "good boy" after a lot of jumps, too.

enjoytheride
Jan. 17, 2010, 05:51 PM
how much of it is the rider?

I know so many dressage riders that are concerned with perfection that it consumes their ride. Exactly where the right hip is, how high the knee is, the shoulders, the exact angle of the elbows. Same with the horse, in dressage you are often taught to be aware of where every foot is because you need to influence the horse at the right moment.

So combined with a horse who is used to having every step closely supervised you have a rider who is busier making sure their position is perfect then worrying about enjoying the moment or what happens when everything isn't perfect.

subk
Jan. 17, 2010, 08:09 PM
how much of it is the rider?
I think a lot.

The more commercial this sport has become the harder it is for a pro to make a horse the old fashion way--with time. I'd buy a horse started its first few years with a competent amateur than from a big time pro almost every time. I know my upper level XC machine was created at Training level, not prelim and not intermediate. Here's the record of a horse I've been watching for the last couple years: http://useventing.com/competitions.php?id=831&horse_id=118254 He has to be the top prelim horse in the country, but ridden by and amateur. Take note, a year at every level.

It takes longer and it's easier to train a horse to think for himself than it does just to take care of things for him. When you see a pro skipping through the levels you can bet the pro is thinking more than the horse. Then start adding in collection and I think it's a ticking bomb...

LLDM
Jan. 17, 2010, 10:48 PM
I think a lot.

The more commercial this sport has become the harder it is for a pro to make a horse the old fashion way--with time. I'd buy a horse started its first few years with a competent amateur than from a big time pro almost every time. I know my upper level XC machine was created at Training level, not prelim and not intermediate. Here's the record of a horse I've been watching for the last couple years: http://useventing.com/competitions.php?id=831&horse_id=118254 He has to be the top prelim horse in the country, but ridden by and amateur. Take note, a year at every level.

It takes longer and it's easier to train a horse to think for himself than it does just to take care of things for him. When you see a pro skipping through the levels you can bet the pro is thinking more than the horse. Then start adding in collection and I think it's a ticking bomb...

Very interesting point.

If eventing is to be the kind of sport that requires a thinking active equine partner, then maybe this isn't the direction we should be going.

In upper level dressage, they seem to want to retain a horse's natural expression and exuberance for his job. But not really his independence or analytical/problem-solving-on-the-fly skills. So it isn't a problem for them.

I'll have to think on this some more.

SCFarm