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View Full Version : Juggling dressage and hunters - Disaster waiting to happen?



paintlady
Mar. 16, 2010, 03:40 PM
Just curious if anyone else here dabbles in both dressage and hunters with the same horse?

My background is hunters - not competitive, just years of riding lessons. I made the switch to dressage 3-4 years ago. My little APHA (paint) mare never seemed to care much for hunters, but really seems to enjoy dressage even if she'll never excel at it.

Recently, I noticed that the APHA is having a 2-day breed show right here in Northern Virginia! This is the first time there has been a breed show in this area in the 8.5 years since I've had my mare. I simply can't resist a chance to show my mare among her peers and - with any hope - get some show points on her APHA record. The problem is that dressage isn't a recognized APHA class. So... it's back to doing hunters. Not just any hunters either - AQHA/APHA hunters which is in itself completely different.

I took lessons for several years at a local stable run by a woman active in the AQHA show circuit. I contacted her today about taking a few lessons to prep for the APHA show in June. I really feel like I need to refresh my hunter skills and learn the breed circuit way of doing things.

I also want to continue with my dressage lessons and showing this year. I really do enjoy dressage more than hunters.

Do you think I'm going to cause my mare all sorts of confusion working on both dressage and AQHA/APHA style hunters at the same time??? In dressage, we're working on getting my mare to move more forward and work on contact. AQHA/APHA style hunters want slower gaits with minimal contact. By attempting both disciplines at the same time, will I be setting myself up for failure in both?

I'd love to here stories from those of you who do dabble in both dressage and hunters at the same time. Thanks!

Melyni
Mar. 16, 2010, 03:44 PM
which as you so rightly say are totally different from 'normal' hunters.
But I have a mare who does the 3 ft hunters and 2nd level dressage and wins at both. No confusion on her part.

But the stockhorse world is not the same at the English world so maybe you can't. But you could always try and see.
Yours
MW

Gry2Yng
Mar. 16, 2010, 03:45 PM
Do it. Have fun. You mare will adapt. It is not that different from eventing, when you are a jack of all trades, expect to be a master of none, but if you derive you happiness in doing lots of different things with horses, then you should do what makes you happy. When I buy a horse that is for "keeps", I try to find one with the mind to do "whatever" suits me at the moment. I never get bored, but I will never be "grand prix" at anything either.

Thoroughbred1201
Mar. 16, 2010, 04:13 PM
I did both with my fancy hunter. We did some tests and he moved so well that we got pretty good scores. A good hunter, trained correctly is perfectly capable of doing a nice first level, maybe second level (if you're dedicated!) test. And it was fun at hunter shows because we could put him in any frame needed. Judge like a horse long and low? No problem. More upright like an equ horse? No problem. It was pretty fun.

My jumper used to do FEI dressage before I got him. He knew which clothes he had on - jumper clothes (3 ring and a figure 8) or a dressage clothes (double bridle). Horses are a lot more adaptable than people!

Just don't think that breed show hunter is the same as the Hunter Jumper circuit. At the worlds level it is, but locally? Think 'winglish', or western in an english saddle. Watch a couple of classes to see what seems to be acceptable, and adjust from hunt seat to dressage seat or back as needed, as it seems to change regionally. But one way or another, you'll have fun.

paintlady
Mar. 17, 2010, 09:23 AM
Ya'll seem to have a lot more faith in my mare's ability to adapt than I do. LOL! I really don't forsee a permanent transition into the APHA breed show circuit. This is the first APHA show in my local area in the 8.5 years I've owned my mare. I have no desire to jump back into hunters - just couldn't resist a chance to show among other paint horses and possibly put some show points on my mare's APHA record. I do want to take some lessons with this AQHA trainer just so we don't look like a complete fish out of water.

CosMonster
Mar. 17, 2010, 10:39 AM
Go for it! Especially if it's just an occasional thing, I wouldn't even really consider that juggling. ;)

I don't know too much about APHA/AQHA hunters, but I used to occasionally show my dressage horse in hunters for the fun of it and we usually did really well. The flat classes aren't that different from going long and low, and dressage improves their jumping. He's a very dressage-type horse, too, but at local shows we did quite well.

I think most horses are capable of adapting to different disciplines, especially if the disciplines are relatively similar like dressage and hunters. My answer might be different if you were thinking about doing western pleasure with your dressage horse, but hunters is no big deal. ;)

claire
Mar. 17, 2010, 11:10 AM
I don't think you will have a problem mixing disciplines at the lower levels.
I have ridden lower levels of both with the same horse and I think it actually helped. YMMV.

It's when you get into the higher (FEI)levels of collection in dressage that you *might* experience some problems and have to commit to focus on one or another.

That said, eventers do a dressage phase and x-c and stadium jumping the same day! :winkgrin:

Maybe, it just depends on your horse and their talents and preferences?

meupatdoes
Mar. 17, 2010, 11:24 AM
My horses do both.

I have a lovely TB 3' hunter that a 10yo can hunt around a course and get her changes, and with him maxed out at 3' I have switched his specialty to dressage.

He is finishing 2nd/embarking on 3rd, and I recently started trailering in for lessons at a very nice dressage barn down the road, where the trainer is laid back but all the other customers have big fancy warmbloods, if you know what I mean.

The horse gets universally good reviews from every trainer he meets, whether dressage or hunter. The current dressage trainer's only caveat was that his neck could be set on a little higher but 'he makes up for it'.

I told him I wanted to go for our bronze this year and the trainer said, "Well, it will be hard work but the horse can do it."

Every one and their mother will yammer at you that hunters "ruins" a dressage horse for lead changes and counter canter but my horse, "ruinous" training though he may have had, has lovely canter work and my goals for those movements are at least 7s. ;)

Meanwhile, being able to hunt relaxed and flowing around a 3' course on a light contact is, I have found, the PERFECT way to loosen him up for a nice swingy back for his dressage lesson the next day. :D

ETA
I also have a coming 5yo young hunter who spends most of his life in a dressage saddle -to the contrary of all of that yammering from the hunter peeps that if you ride your hunter on the contact he'll be ruined as a hunter forever. We are working on establishing a solid First Level, so we spend our days developing a slightly more elevated frame (MY GOD! BUT HOW WILL HE HACK?!), simple changes, lots of legyielding, a little counter-canter loop here and there, and some lengthenings.
At any point of the school somebody could yell out "HUNTER STYLE!" and with playing out a little loop in the rein and lightening my seat the horse transforms instantly into a nose-poking, flat-toplined hunter.
The horse is trained to follow the contact and seat where they lead, and if the contact and seat are asking for a little more elevation, that's what he does. If the contact and seat say "Go like a hunter", he does that. If the contact and seat say "Stretch long and low," he does a stretchy circle frame. No matter what saddle he's in.

I find that the combined program is beneficial. It is frustrating to read so many times on this board people treating the two disciplines as mutually exclusive, and discouraging people from doing both with one horse (and most of the time those people don't do both, they only do ONE and guessitmate forth from there...), when with many different horses I have personally had such a mutually BENEFICIAL experience. The horses love the variety and the cross training really develops them (and me!) holistically.

paintlady
Mar. 17, 2010, 11:55 AM
My answer might be different if you were thinking about doing western pleasure with your dressage horse, but hunters is no big deal. ;)

That's just it... AQHA/APHA hunters is basically western pleasure with english tack.

CosMonster
Mar. 17, 2010, 12:20 PM
I've heard that, but from what I've seen it's not quite the same. They still need to have a true walk/trot/canter, just slower than you would see in open hunters. And you have more of a draped rein, but the horse isn't completely backed off the bridle like in western events. Like I said, I'm not super experienced in it but I have a friend who does QH breed stuff and have been to shows as a spectator with her, and that's what I've seen. :)

I still think it's worth a try if you want to do the show. You know your horse enough not to do anything that's going to screw her up, I'm sure. Worst case scenario is you just won't do very well, but hopefully you'll meet some new people and have a fun experience. I'd hazard a guess you'll probably do decently, though, especially if there aren't many paint shows in your area.

TSWJB
Mar. 17, 2010, 01:06 PM
horses can do both if they are properly trained. i did the 2.6ft hunters and i did first level dressage last year. the dressage judges loved my horse. even with me riding in hunt seat clothing saddle and bridle.
and for hunters he did very well too. he looks quite cute going around the courses as a hunter. cant tell he does dressage. but i do find that in order to improve my hunter rounds with my horse, he has to stop leaning in on his corners and for that i go to dressage.
i think its silly to say a horse has to do one or the other. like meupatdoes said, if i want to be more dressage like i sit up and go into a frame, and then if i want to be more hunter like i loosen the reins and let him strut his stuff. the stretchy trot from dressage has really helped him get a better frame for hunters. my last lesson we worked on shoulder fore. (gasp at a hunter barn!) we did this down one long side while it was being taped and then my instructor said let him loose on the other side and he looked so nice as a hunter.
have fun, do both!

wendy
Mar. 17, 2010, 01:20 PM
He knew which clothes he had on - jumper clothes (3 ring and a figure 8) or a dressage clothes (double bridle). Horses are a lot more adaptable than people!


ditto. For example, lots of horses show totally different gaits under western vs. english tack.

NOMIOMI1
Mar. 17, 2010, 02:11 PM
Um the paints I rode were completely backed off of the bridle in the hunter events for the breed shows, BUT that was at very competative stuff.

If its a local show, go, have fun, its not a big deal.


As far as "training" for it, no, I would not make my dressage horse go through the 'bumping" work after he/she has learned to accept contact.

How competative do you want to be in AQ/APHA? If very, then I wouldnt make the horse go back and forth :)

JMO

mypaintwattie
Mar. 17, 2010, 02:59 PM
I too have an APHA mare and we do it all- not only the 'breed' hunter under saddle and english classes, but also the western classes. To top it off I also show her dressage and on the 'regular' hunter jumper circuit. I even have plans to teach her to drive. And yes, she does well at it all. The biggest issue I have is headset and contact, but even that isn't huge- she seems to know that western saddle and curb bit= low and slow, dressage saddle and plain snaffle or double= more collected, and close contact saddle and snaffle or pelham= listen to mom and go the speed she wants with the headset she wants:D

Oh, and if you want to earn points without showing on the APHA circuit, look into the PAC program- it's an easy way to earn points! I look for shows that are PAC approved if I'm not going to a Paint show.

paintlady
Mar. 17, 2010, 03:10 PM
Um the paints I rode were completely backed off of the bridle in the hunter events for the breed shows, BUT that was at very competative stuff.

If its a local show, go, have fun, its not a big deal.


As far as "training" for it, no, I would not make my dressage horse go through the 'bumping" work after he/she has learned to accept contact.

How competative do you want to be in AQ/APHA? If very, then I wouldnt make the horse go back and forth :)

JMO

It's a "real" APHA 2-day show - not just a local schooling show. I assume it's a big deal. The facility has stalls for up to 150 horses, so I'm assuming there will be lots of horses coming in for this show. :confused:

I definitely do not plan to pursue the APHA circuit. There simply aren't any shows held in my immediate area - this is the first one I've seen in Northern Virginia in the 8.5 years I've owned a paint horse. I'm not interested in traveling either even just down to Lexington, VA which is where this show is normally held.

I'm doing it for "fun," but I also don't want to go out there and look like a complete idiot either. I try to do everything to the best of our abilities which is why I'm going to take some lessons with a local AQHA trainer beforehand.

I do still want to stick with dressage since there is a much bigger dressage community around here - plus my mare seems much happier doing dressage than when I did attempt the local hunter circuit years ago. My main concern is confusing my mare over the gaits and level of contact. My mare does best with light contact and seems to fall apart and scramble without it.

There won't be any major tack changes. I currently have an Albion AP and dressage saddles. Both saddles have the same exact tree and there isn't a huge difference in the way the two saddles seat me. Plus, I'll be using the same bit I use for dressage - a loose ring Sprenger.

Thoroughbred1201
Mar. 17, 2010, 03:13 PM
my last lesson we worked on shoulder fore. (gasp at a hunter barn!)

Frankly, at any good h/j barn, the dressage work is just part of it. Shoulder in, Haunches In, leg yield, half pass, counter canter. Any h/j horse worth his salt had better be able to do it all.

Many years ago, my long time trainer worked for Jimmy Williams. He required that they show in dressage shows, and take a dressage lesson once a week. So, it's not exactly a new idea.

I think the idea that the disciplines aren't compatible comes from ignorance more of the other side more than anything. It's only at the upper levels where the muscle structure and carriage becomes so defined that conflicts happen.

paintlady
Mar. 17, 2010, 03:16 PM
Oh, and if you want to earn points without showing on the APHA circuit, look into the PAC program- it's an easy way to earn points! I look for shows that are PAC approved if I'm not going to a Paint show.

Just looked on the APHA website - nothing in the PAC program really local to me. The closest thing is about 1.5 hours away and I'm not willing to travel that far. Paint horses just aren't that common in Northern Virginia.

Thoroughbred1201
Mar. 17, 2010, 03:17 PM
ditto. For example, lots of horses show totally different gaits under western vs. english tack.

I have friends who do both paints and quarter horses. Once, for a lark, we put a western saddle on my hunter. Interestingly enough, he broke from the whithers, dropping his head down with a straight neck, instead of coming through his back. All of a sudden I had the picture of a western pleasure horse in my big moving TB. It was pretty surprising, and he wasn't overly thrilled with it, but I learned a lot!

paintlady
Mar. 17, 2010, 03:20 PM
Here is a link to the show bill - http://www.centralvirginiapainthorseclub.org/events.html

It's the June 5-6 show - held about 20 minutes from my barn.

NOMIOMI1
Mar. 17, 2010, 03:23 PM
It's a "real" APHA 2-day show - not just a local schooling show. I assume it's a big deal. The facility has stalls for up to 150 horses, so I'm assuming there will be lots of horses coming in for this show. :confused:

I definitely do not plan to pursue the APHA circuit. There simply aren't any shows held in my immediate area - this is the first one I've seen in Northern Virginia in the 8.5 years I've owned a paint horse. I'm not interested in traveling either even just down to Lexington, VA which is where this show is normally held.

I'm doing it for "fun," but I also don't want to go out there and look like a complete idiot either. I try to do everything to the best of our abilities which is why I'm going to take some lessons with a local AQHA trainer beforehand.

I do still want to stick with dressage since there is a much bigger dressage community around here - plus my mare seems much happier doing dressage than when I did attempt the local hunter circuit years ago. My main concern is confusing my mare over the gaits and level of contact. My mare does best with light contact and seems to fall apart and scramble without it.

There won't be any major tack changes. I currently have an Albion AP and dressage saddles. Both saddles have the same exact tree and there isn't a huge difference in the way the two saddles seat me. Plus, I'll be using the same bit I use for dressage - a loose ring Sprenger.

Should be ok for a one time thing :) The apha hunters are on a loose rein, some have "contact" but thats long definately strung out more than the dressage contact.

Some of the APHA horses have the movement to really do well at both since most judges place movement above all if you have SOME kind of headset. Depends on the venue, AND the judge, but most trainers favor the bump on the mouth tactic with lots and lots of backing or pivots to get that loose rein work.

They really get moving in the pro classes at the world, but locally they seem to shuffle still and go like the west/hunt horses of the old days.

My last nov/ammy class in AQHA was on a mare that did dressage, she was 17.2 and passed every horse at our slowest amble lmao, I had to take quite the back seat in placings.

The first thing the trainer wanted was me to get her off of the bridle, I couldnt do it, it was too unfair.

paintlady
Mar. 17, 2010, 03:24 PM
Frankly, at any good h/j barn, the dressage work is just part of it. Shoulder in, Haunches In, leg yield, half pass, counter canter. Any h/j horse worth his salt had better be able to do it all.

Many years ago, my long time trainer worked for Jimmy Williams. He required that they show in dressage shows, and take a dressage lesson once a week. So, it's not exactly a new idea.

I think the idea that the disciplines aren't compatible comes from ignorance more of the other side more than anything. It's only at the upper levels where the muscle structure and carriage becomes so defined that conflicts happen.

The videos I've seen of AQHA/APHA shows have the horses going slowly with their heads down low on a long rein with little to no contact. That is certainly not the way I see horses move at dressage shows. We've been working on getting my mare to move much more forward and on the bit. :confused:

Thoroughbred1201
Mar. 17, 2010, 04:07 PM
I'm so sorry! I didn't make myself clear. (That's the disconnect between typing and my brain!) I was talking between h/j and dressage. NOT breed shows. Generaly Breed Shows tend to be off in their own little world - kind of like Saddle Seat.

That said, however, the same trainer that used to work for Jimmy Williams, took 2 different Paints to the Worlds 2 separate times and came back with several championships for hunters and equ. She commented that at that level, it's the same as the A H/J circuit, and that you see a lot of the BNTs from the A System catch riding for the over fences portion. Same for QH. It's at the regional and local level that you get the 'winglish'.

Thoroughbred1201
Mar. 17, 2010, 04:09 PM
If its a local show, go, have fun, its not a big deal.


As far as "training" for it, no, I would not make my dressage horse go through the 'bumping" work after he/she has learned to accept contact.JMO

Well said!

NOMIOMI1
Mar. 17, 2010, 04:11 PM
Winglish ha ha lol :)


I like it!


Yes Op, the above is what I was saying about world vs local. The local was like death to the huge mare I was riding.

I dont think there was a horse there over 15.2 lol and they all jogged in pelhams lol

Thoroughbred1201
Mar. 17, 2010, 04:14 PM
It's a "real" APHA 2-day show - not just a local schooling show. I assume it's a big deal.

I definitely do not plan to pursue the APHA circuit.

I'm doing it for "fun," but I also don't want to go out there and look like a complete idiot either. I try to do everything to the best of our abilities which is why I'm going to take some lessons with a local AQHA trainer beforehand.


Then go and enjoy yourself and enjoy not having the only spotted horse around! Just ride your horse the way you normally do. Just know that it will go one of two ways. It will either be very 'back-yard' with western in an english saddle, and people will think you don't understand how things work (in which case you hold your head up high because your horse is actually well trained and correct!), or it will have normal hunter type horses and there will be no issues.

Just be prepared mentally for either, and above all, have fun!

Thoroughbred1201
Mar. 17, 2010, 04:16 PM
I dont think there was a horse there over 15.2 lol and they all jogged in pelhams lol

Or kimberwicks.

We used to have open shows at the barn my trainer was at, and I'd ride my green TB in them just to get some ring time. We'd lap them.

NOMIOMI1
Mar. 17, 2010, 04:20 PM
Ya a friend bred a horse to get something for WORLD, and when everyone comes to see him they are like, wow he'll be great for dressage, er jumping er...


They dont know what to say, because to THEM, he wont cut it in AQ. HOWEVER, his size and movement will be perfect for hunters, but only with the big guys and A shows so...

Most people here dont see that type of movement or freedom of shoulders *shrugs*

Thoroughbred1201
Mar. 17, 2010, 04:28 PM
The wierdest thing to me is the multiple judges. You have one class, say, Hunter Under Saddle. You'd ride the class, then it's placed by Judge #1. Then again by Judge #2. Then maybe once more by Judge #3. And you'd pay three entry fees for one class. So rather than entering three classes, ride three times, and get placed for each, you'd get three results for one class. I still don't get that. Kind of rules out the consistency in training.

I guess it gets more points, which seems to be the main thing, but it kind of defeats the purpose. It used to crack me up with Judge #1 would place horse A first, and Judge #3 wouldn't place it at all. Problem with standards methinks?

And what if your horse blows up? Three scores for one ride down the drain.

Thoroughbred1201
Mar. 17, 2010, 04:31 PM
Ya a friend bred a horse to get something for WORLD, and when everyone comes to see him they are like, wow he'll be great for dressage, er jumping er...


They dont know what to say, because to THEM, he wont cut it in AQ. HOWEVER, his size and movement will be perfect for hunters, but only with the big guys and A shows so...

Most people here dont see that type of movement or freedom of shoulders *shrugs*

How true is that! LOL.

About 10 years ago my trainer got the cutest QH from Idaho. It's on it's third owner in the barn, wins everything as a Short Sturrip/Pre Children's horse and is as fancy as can be. She was sold originally because the QH people in Idaho thought she was a failure for the QH circuit. Guess she looked too much like a 15h TB.

NOMIOMI1
Mar. 17, 2010, 04:33 PM
Blows up? Huh? A quarter horse ;) lol

Yep, and one judge last year I think was a reiner judge lmao.

Now that is funny, huh, no wonder my 14.3 cow horse won the hunter hack under one judge!

Interesting enough most usually only one judge catches the "blow up", and if you lucky enough to ride with 60 plus people at one time, youll prob be long forgotten anyway.

I think they should do like the arabs, the people circle the judge to get noticed, I almost died when I found this out laughing.

Ive shown arabs a few years now, you wont catch me circling the judge to save my life lmao

Thoroughbred1201
Mar. 17, 2010, 04:48 PM
We had to break my friend (the paint horse rider) of wearing heavy make-up and catching the judge's eye and smiling at him in the flat classes when she went to A H/J shows. Right up there with circling the judge!

When she went to the worlds, my trainer and I conspired to get her dressed right. She went with two outfits: the one that we put together (tailored sportsman breeches, navy coat, white monogramed shirt) and her old one she wore regionally, which frankly, was scary. She called me the first night thanking us to high heaven for talking her into taking the "A" outfit, LOL.

Things are getting better now in the breed world. Horse quality, rider quality, etc., thank heavens!

CosMonster
Mar. 17, 2010, 05:45 PM
Well that might explain why I didn't see such a big difference...when I said I'd been to a few shows with my friend, I went to a very popular regional show and I went to Congress with her. I haven't seen much at the local or smaller regional level. I fully admit my experience with stock horses is very limited, I just figured I'd address it since pretty much everyone else who had posted by that point only had experience with all-breed hunters. :)

mypaintwattie
Mar. 17, 2010, 06:18 PM
The nice thing with PAC is that nearly any show series can become approved- if you have a local dressage show series print out the PAC form on the APHA website and take it to them and see if they will sign off. All they need to do is be able to verify class placings for a year. I just did it for a local H/J circuit- just had the secretary fill out the form, sign it, and mail it in, took all of 5 minutes, and the secretary loved that I provided an envelope and stamp:)

mypaintwattie
Mar. 17, 2010, 06:22 PM
And as far as circling the judge, in a flat class you can not circle or cut across the arena- if you are bunched up in traffic you have to hug the rail or cut corners and ride on the inside track, which gets to be very inside when there are a lot of horses in the pen. That was a hard one for me to learn- never, ever, ever, circle or cut across!

NOMIOMI1
Mar. 17, 2010, 07:14 PM
Yes AQHA even has videos about "rail placement" do not get off that thing or its death lol

Seen a lot of traffic jams because of this lol

BUT in Arabians, its common to stay on the inside and even circle the judge which is so funny when you see someone doing it to the point of annoyance.

LShipley
Mar. 17, 2010, 11:14 PM
I have a 14.1 hand QH that I do h/j with and have started with dressage. She just really loves to jump - we'll do anything between 2' - 2'9, but she tends to be heavy on the forehand and doesn't use her back much.

My h/j trainer recommended dressage so I could help her learn to be up in her shoulders and use her hind end more. I can only do 1-2 lessons per month, but I am amazed at everything we have learned in 4 months. It is improving her movement and self carriage and my riding skill.

I am doing all our flatwork as a dressage rider - longer stirrups, sit straight up - and in my jumping lessons, I warm up in the more forward seat and shorter stirrups, but ask for the same round frame. When we start jumping, I put a little loop in the reins and don't worry about her frame. She has always really sprung up over a jump, but when her shoulders are up form our warm-up and she is moving much straighter, she jumps really big! Sometimes I think she surprises herself. Anyway, my goal for now is to develop a more balanced trot and canter on the flat and when jumping a course. I have in the back of my mind to work up to second level dressage with her, possibly go to some local schooling shows, and then decide how much more, if any, to do with her.

paintlady
Mar. 17, 2010, 11:15 PM
Good news! I went riding tonight. When I was finished and just going around to cool my mare down, I asked for a trot with a nice long loose rein. She didn't get all speedy and unbalanced like she has in the past - just kept trotting along with her head low. I guess the key is going to take her into classes after an intensive workout.

I will admit that it will be nice not to hear about how slow her trot is - something we're constantly critiqued on in dressage. My mare can't help that she's barely 15.2 hh with little legs. At least she won't look quite so out of place at a APHA show. I really don't see any other stocky foundation bred QH/Paints at the dressage shows I go to. We're pretty much always competing against TBs and WBs.

ccoronios
Mar. 18, 2010, 09:27 AM
Assuming mare is well trained.

Friends of mine YEARS ago taught me a valuable lesson - something I don't think I'd have thought about on my own. This lesson was related to a breeding stallion (which I would never have, but the lesson translates to doing different stuff that might seem contradictory).

The lesson was using different equipment for different purposes. In their case, they used a plain old nylon halter - no chain - for 'real life'. Leading around mares, shows, wherever. For breeding, they used a leather halter with a chain. Believe me, this horse knew what he was doing - and what behavior was acceptable - based on what he was wearing.

So - I would suggest using different tack. Do you have different saddles? In addition to different bits, I'd suggest using entirely different bridles. A regular cavesson for hunter work and a flash or dropped or 8 or whatever for dressage. That way, she'll associate how to go with what she's wearing.

Good luck.

Carol

paintlady
Mar. 18, 2010, 09:42 AM
So - I would suggest using different tack. Do you have different saddles? In addition to different bits, I'd suggest using entirely different bridles. A regular cavesson for hunter work and a flash or dropped or 8 or whatever for dressage. That way, she'll associate how to go with what she's wearing.


My mare is extremely difficult to saddle fit. I had a custom Albion AP made two years ago. That was my only saddle until a few months ago. I now also have an Albion dressage saddle. I was fortunate to stumble upon a used one with the same exact seat size, tree size, etc. to match my AP. So, I do have two different saddles, but they probably feel identical to my mare. There isn't a huge difference between my AP and dressage saddle either. Yes, my stirrups are shorter on the AP, but it doesn't have a real forward flap like you'd get with a CC saddle.

I also prefer to use the same Sprenger Dynamic bit since my mare is also very fussy about bits. The Sprenger Dynamic is the first bit that she really liked and responded well too. My dressage bridle does have a flash noseband, but I don't often use it the flash attachment since she doesn't need it. I will throw it on for shows, but she doesn't react any differently.

I'm also not willing to shell out $$$ for a CC saddle and another Sprenger bit for something that might just be a one time deal.

Gloria
Mar. 18, 2010, 10:26 AM
Good news! I went riding tonight. When I was finished and just going around to cool my mare down, I asked for a trot with a nice long loose rein. She didn't get all speedy and unbalanced like she has in the past - just kept trotting along with her head low. I guess the key is going to take her into classes after an intensive workout.

I will admit that it will be nice not to hear about how slow her trot is - something we're constantly critiqued on in dressage. My mare can't help that she's barely 15.2 hh with little legs. At least she won't look quite so out of place at a APHA show. I really don't see any other stocky foundation bred QH/Paints at the dressage shows I go to. We're pretty much always competing against TBs and WBs.


Congratulation! Dressage has helped my hunter greatly. He stays more balanced, and is a lot more powerful. Now I school him in dressage every day and just swap the dressage saddle with my hunt saddle for hunter classes.

Now as to the comment about her slow trot. My guess is, she is doing more like jog instead of real trot and that is not what a dressage horse should look like (nothing to do with her size or breed, my horse is barely 15 hand). My horse used to be shown in western pleasure so he has learnt to mosey around instead of marching forward. That is something we both have to learn to correct. And don't worry about confusing her. If done right, you won't. It's all in your seat. When you want jog, your seat tells her to jog. When you want trot, your seat tells her to trot.

paintlady
Mar. 18, 2010, 10:46 AM
Now as to the comment about her slow trot. My guess is, she is doing more like jog instead of real trot and that is not what a dressage horse should look like (nothing to do with her size or breed, my horse is barely 15 hand). My horse used to be shown in western pleasure so he has learnt to mosey around instead of marching forward. That is something we both have to learn to correct. And don't worry about confusing her. If done right, you won't. It's all in your seat. When you want jog, your seat tells her to jog. When you want trot, your seat tells her to trot.

Sorry - didn't mean to imply she does a Western jog. I've seen that and her trot is not nearly that slow! My mare has never done Western pleasure.

I bought my mare as a green 4 y/o in 2001. She was broke and ridden by a dressage trainer. The dressage trainer sold her as a trail horse - didn't think she had any potential for dressage. She only had her on consignment because my mare's breeder was a friend of a friend. She agreed to break/train/sell her as a favor. I initially bought my mare as a trail horse, but decided to start showing after getting my own trailer in 2005. We started doing dressage in 2006. After our very first show in September 2006, my mare tore her check ligament and was off for nearly a year. It's been a slow road back since then.

I don't think my mare is "pokey", but her trot still looks way slow in comparison to the TBs and WBs we compete against. We're really working on balance and getting her to move more from her rear/back. I could get her to go fast now, but she tends to fall on her forehand and rush. I'd rather have a slower, balanced trot than a quick, unbalanced one at the level we're at now.

Here is a video of us doing Intro B at a show in September 2008. Please don't be too hard on us - we're still relatively new to dressage and my mare is far from being a "natural." I like to think we've made lots of progress since then too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7EviKsHNE0&feature=related