View Full Version : Sort of Spin off...

Feb. 21, 2011, 11:01 AM
Reading the thread about selling your horses because they don't like your chosen discipline got me wondering. I am fairly naive so please tell me some information. :)

If dressage is supposed to be for the horse, making him to his best, then why are some horses not happy doing it? And shouldn't every discipline have a kind of basis in dressage? I'm not saying every horse should do FEI or even 3rd, but I just don't understand why horses don't like dressage. I also have a horse who just tolerates dressage, but still does it, and seems happier the better he gets at it. However, we do a lot of different stuff too.

Sorry if this question is silly. Thanks for helping clear this up. :)

Feb. 21, 2011, 11:12 AM
Dressage is a good base for all disciplines, and if you're doing it right it should be pleasant for the horse.

However, some horses just don't thrive on dressage's mental aspects as much as others, because of their temperament.

Case in point:

My late TB was an excellent jumper. He had a take charge attitude and loved figuring out trappy combinations on the cross country course. He didn't need or care for a lot of direction...he was very independent-minded. So while dressage was great for us in our later years, it was obvious that he didn't "get into it" the way he did w/jumping. He enjoyed our partnership and became a good dressage horse, but his mind was better suited for the fast decisions and boldness needed for jumping.

My Welsh/TB seems better suited mentally for specializing in dressage. He really likes direction, and is very attentive to subtle commands. He is less interested in doing things on his own--my old horse would freejump non-stop (and would become hard to catch, since he liked it so much!), while Eragon jumps, comes to me and asks "okay, what next?" He seems to find the complexities of dressage more interesting, and seems less interested in an adrenalin rush like Fancy was.

Feb. 21, 2011, 11:32 AM
Horses are usually happiest resting up for their afternoon nap and the gymnastics in any basic training requires work, be it stretching, building muscle, strength and developing balance. Some horses simply get bored with dressage and I've found especially bright horses think they have something down after doing it twice.

You say your horse is enjoying dressage more so he's probably getting stronger and more supple and finding the work easier. As you push the envelope he may decide again that this isn't for him.

I'm a big cross-training type and my horses "tell" me when it's a day to do something out of the sandbox.

Feb. 21, 2011, 11:35 AM
I had a trainer once tell me that she took only one dressage lesson before deciding there was no way she could do dressage- it was too disciplined for her. I'm sure some horses feel the same way. Some horses I think just get bored, or want to do the higher energy, faster paced stuff.

Feb. 21, 2011, 11:40 AM
My horse was an eventer who only showed through Training, but everyone agreed had the scope to go Advanced. He didn't have the most solid dressage foundation (had never started from scratch to get him over the behind the bit issues from the track, for example), but still got good scores there - and went clean in the jumping. However, he was the opposite of STSF's late jumper. He plans out his paths in turnout to avoid jumps and ground poles. On cross country, he didn't want to take the initiative to jump himself - he wanted to be told what to do. He isn't the kind of bold, strong personality which would really succeed out there, or at least that aspect of his personality wasn't able to get truly nurtured as an eventer.

Since I've had him, we've been doing dressage with a little jumping thrown in, and his jumping is improving greatly (as it should - dressage being the foundation for everything) and he DOES take initiative in dressage. Once he figured out bending his hocks from lateral work, he started getting more and more uphill without me asking. Where a horse who loves jumping practices it when given the chance, my horse practices dressage.

I don't buy the "my horse hates dressage, so we don't do it!" line from folks, but certainly a horse's ability to progress up levels and really thrive as a pure dressage horse will be greatly influenced by its temperament and desire to do it. That can chance from one rider to another, too, though, as sometimes the "right" rider taps into something. My favorite example is Ravel - Steffen Peters did an interview where I heard him discussing that the Europeans thought Ravel was an unhappy horse who would never be a GP horse. For whatever reason, the two of them clicked, and you know how that turned out!