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View Full Version : What's harder on the horses's hind end - opinions please!



bethwrogillio
Feb. 21, 2011, 11:41 AM
Just curious what you all think is harder on a horse's hind end - dressage or jumping. Going to ask the hunter/jumper folks too.
My vet always seems to go to the jumping if the horse has hind end problems, but I am not so sure that low jumping is so much harder on them. She is a dressage rider herself, I myself ride a lot of dressage but jump as well.
So what do you think is harder on their hocks and stifles? Working consistently in a 2nd/3rd level dressage frame or jumping low jumps in a hunter frame - say 2'6" to 3 ft?

Petstorejunkie
Feb. 21, 2011, 11:53 AM
honestly, it depends.

joiedevie99
Feb. 21, 2011, 11:55 AM
Total speculation, but I would think stress on the hind end at 2'6" hunters would compare to training level dressage. Most horses don't rock back and push off their hocks jumping those low heights. To me, this is similar to the training level horse who moves in a level frame, not yet working on collection, so no real additional weight being transferred back to the hind.

Bogey2
Feb. 21, 2011, 12:59 PM
I think it depends on the horses conformation and if it is being ridden correctly.

alibi_18
Feb. 21, 2011, 01:04 PM
My vet thinks that dressage is way more demanding than jumping. Even at 'equal' upper level. 2'6 - 3' isn't really demanding for most horses.

bethwrogillio
Feb. 21, 2011, 01:04 PM
Yes I agree, of course it depends. I just meant in a general sort of way, assuming horse is being ridden/trained correctly and responsibly.
An explanation:
My dressage mare is having some very minor stifle issues - which however I think are here to stay. Wondering if a career change would help her out, though my vet cautions against jumping and encourages the dressage, I feel like low jumping (up to 3 ft) in a hunter frame might in fact be easier on her then the 2nd level dressage we are now doing. I enjoy both, so could easily switch over with her. And of course, I would never jump her more than twice weekly...
Thanks :)

SonnysMom
Feb. 21, 2011, 01:27 PM
The vet that I used to inject Finnegan's hocks feels that circles are tougher on the hocks than jumping or just about any other activity. This vet has cutting horses. Many of his clients are dressage, h/j, reining, cutting & racing both TB & STB.
I was not allowed to do dressage circles for 2 full weeks after the injections. After a week I could w/t/c the full ring.

This vet is known for joint injections and has been doing them for a really long time. Based on what he said about circles I picked dressage versus LL hunters. I figure dressage you do many more circles. (At least under saddle).
I do realize that some people do overly lunge some hunters. If the management of the hunter involves lots of lunging to get them quiet enough then my vote would change for that particular situation.
I feel lunging is harder on joints than either activity.

SAcres
Feb. 21, 2011, 01:34 PM
I really don't think dressage at 2nd/3rd level is comparable to low level hunters. Maybe training level dressage, but then you have to add in the stress of circles.

Jumping would be easier on the horse as long as the horse has decent conformation for jumping, good weight, and ridden correctly. 2'6" is very easy for most horses, 3' is a little more difficult, but not very challenging for the horse physically.

Velvet
Feb. 21, 2011, 01:42 PM
If the horse is very well muscled, and kept in shape, neither sport is harder than the other on the hind end. Usually, jumping ends up being a bit harder on the joints in the front end, due to the landing on one leg. I think the reason most people pick dressage is because most horses you see ridden in dressage these days are NOT in shape and are ridden for too long in one frame. That's the death of the hind leg.

spirithorse
Feb. 21, 2011, 02:24 PM
A Swedish study from 2008 on head-neck relationship to the back, clearly shows that collection with certain head-neck positions does have a negative affect upon the hindquarters, because the lumbar area is extended and the hindquarters are weight loaded. In other words, the horse is not 'balanced'.

Alpha Mare
Feb. 21, 2011, 03:21 PM
First, if the horse has stifle issues it needs rest from any work - for a period of time.

after rest, it really depends on the horse and the rider - how hard the rider schools the horse, how often it jumps if jumping, footing in the arena and fitness/conformation of the horse.

If the rider is showing, compare 2nd level to 3' hunters, I think dressage is the less strenous use because the showing is less frequent. My hunter friends are out EVERY weekend, sometimes both sat/sun and my dressage friends are more 1-2x a month for a shorter overall show season as well.

I agree with Velvet as well.

naturalequus
Feb. 21, 2011, 04:18 PM
A Swedish study from 2008 on head-neck relationship to the back, clearly shows that collection with certain head-neck positions does have a negative affect upon the hindquarters, because the lumbar area is extended and the hindquarters are weight loaded. In other words, the horse is not 'balanced'.

Are you saying a horse naturally developed to a higher level of collection via classical means, where their weight is balanced on the hind, is detrimental?

If you're talking instead of someone forcing a horse into a specific frame (and headset) with no or little regard to classical development, then of course there will be negative effects. But we are talking dressage as it is supposed to be done. All things considered equal and the horse ridden correctly either hunter or dressage.

OP, 2'6''-3' is not all that high, however I would think that, both disciplines ridden and trained correctly, neither one would be necessarily harder on the horse than the other (when comparing LL Hunter and 2nd LVL Dressage) and Dressage would actually especially keep those stifles strengthened. However that depends on the actual stifle issue in question, and a multitude of small dressage circles might exacerbate the issue. I would lean more towards LL hunters being a little less hard on the horse perhaps...

As Alpha Mare pointed out though, it does depend on how hard the horse schools, how the horse is ridden, what sort of footing the horse is being worked in, and the conformation of the horse, as well as the frequency you are jumping/doing small dressage circles or showing.

Depending on what the actual issue is, can you try out hunters and see what your mare says?

spirithorse
Feb. 21, 2011, 04:53 PM
The horses used were classically schooled horses.

What I believe is that weighting the hindquarter is actually unbalancing the horse and impedes the propulsion from the hindquarter.

The study appears to be in some agreement with that perspective.

A horse will not weight its hindquarter when ridden without being schooled to do so, because it perfers to be in balance, shifting weight only when it is required for what the horse is doing. Dressage movements do not require the horse to be on the hindquarter except when setting up for levade and for pirouette.

naturalequus
Feb. 21, 2011, 05:49 PM
Say wha-?? To each their own I suppose. Was this study peer-reviewed? How was testing done? Who were the riders? Who's judging whether or not it was truly classical, or to what extent, etc?

You have to weight something so as to push off from it. That's why say for example, taking a horse in deep to a jump works. The horse's weight is balanced on its hind so the horse has more power to propel itself over the jump and attain more scope.

I'm not going to go OT and get into a debate here, but you desperately need to read more about the biomechanics of the horse. I hear what you are saying to an extent, but only to an extent. There is more to it than what you propose.

spirithorse
Feb. 21, 2011, 07:13 PM
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19469235

Equibrit
Feb. 21, 2011, 07:20 PM
Too many variables to make a judgement.
Horse's conformation.
Horse's diet.
Horse's early years.
Horse's training.
Horse's fitness.
Horse's age.
Riders skill.

naturalequus
Feb. 21, 2011, 07:42 PM
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19469235

See, but the study already gets off to a bad start from the very beginning:

"Dressage involves training of the horse with the head and neck placed in a position defined by the rider."
The head and neck is not placed in a position defined by the rider, it is the result of the degree of collection of the horse, the horse's conformation, condition of the horse, the movement being asked of the horse, etc. The head falls into place as a result of the use and whereabouts of the rest of the horse's body.

The horses are ridden on a treadmill and their heads are placed in specific positions rather than permitted to fall into place.

The whole point in classical dressage is that the horse is developed progressively as per the TS pyramid. The key is finding the balance appropriate to that horse - namely by allowing the horse to find said position through the use of exercises and patterns.

"The movements of the horse are significantly different when ridden on loose reins compared to the position used in collected trot."
Uh, yeah.

"An extremely elevated neck position can produce some effects commonly associated with increased degree of collection..."
Well yes, but that is besides the point. We're not riding horses front-to-back here, the goal is to increase the degree of collection and the horse will attain a poll-highest position as a result. You're not using "an extremely elevated neck position to produce" collection.

"...the increased back extension observed with this position may place the horse at risk of injury if ridden in this position for a prolonged period."
A) what is the definition of a prolonged period? Because it should never exceed that horse's fitness level.
B) Hence the need for progressive schooling and conditioning.

"Head and neck positions influence significantly the kinematics of the ridden horse. It is important for riders and trainers to be aware of these effects in dressage training."
Duh. Hence the study of biomechanics so we can figure out what is best for the horse.

SH, dressage can be done correctly. Now, if your opinion differs, start a spinoff thread. Last time you did though I personally presented some valid (and honest and respectful) opinion and questions and you buggered off, so maybe this time try to stick around, eh?

bethwrogillio
Feb. 21, 2011, 09:10 PM
Thank you naturalequus, for your thoughts! I think, despite the debate, you have a great answer - see how my mare responds.
Without getting into it too much I have worked with my vet closely for the last year and a half giving my mare time off, injections, etc. I have not done any of the pricier treatments like irap, which I just cannot afford at this time. I will continue to do what I can to see what works (next is legend in the stifle, and legend iv) but she is always happy to work and never argues, and I think she does better with work than with time off, and it is a very minor unsoundness, something most people would never notice, but I do! That's in the dressage work, just wondering if she would do better with a new job...

spirithorse
Feb. 21, 2011, 10:11 PM
See, but the study already gets off to a bad start from the very beginning:

"Dressage involves training of the horse with the head and neck placed in a position defined by the rider."
The head and neck is not placed in a position defined by the rider, it is the result of the degree of collection of the horse, the horse's conformation, condition of the horse, the movement being asked of the horse, etc. The head falls into place as a result of the use and whereabouts of the rest of the horse's body.

But if the rider did not pull on the bits and place the head in place, the horse definitly would not carry it the way the rider places it. Release the reins and let me see any horse hold its head in the frame presented in Gran Prix dressage.

Only a horse schooled without the bit into the frame would achieve it and still there is the impact by the rider contact...see Catherine Henriquet in halter.

The horses are ridden on a treadmill and their heads are placed in specific positions rather than permitted to fall into place.

Once again the horse will not let its head fall into the collected position that riders place it in.

The whole point in classical dressage is that the horse is developed progressively as per the TS pyramid. The key is finding the balance appropriate to that horse - namely by allowing the horse to find said position through the use of exercises and patterns.

Balance is front to rear and side to side, would you agree? That places the balance point somewhere close under the rider. So the horse should never be heavy on the forehand or the hindquarter if balanced. Yes, at levade and pirouette the hindquarter is weighted.....

"The movements of the horse are significantly different when ridden on loose reins compared to the position used in collected trot."
Uh, yeah.

How do you collect your horse without the application of pressures to the bits through the reins?

"An extremely elevated neck position can produce some effects commonly associated with increased degree of collection..."
Well yes, but that is besides the point. We're not riding horses front-to-back here, the goal is to increase the degree of collection and the horse will attain a poll-highest position as a result. You're not using "an extremely elevated neck position to produce" collection.

It is the point. Your statement that the horse will attain the poll high as a result does not manifest without the rein pressures being applied.
Collection is a shortening of stride, the impedence of forward motion.
So if the neck to achieve collection then why the overbent behind the vertical positions?

"...the increased back extension observed with this position may place the horse at risk of injury if ridden in this position for a prolonged period."
A) what is the definition of a prolonged period? Because it should never exceed that horse's fitness level.
B) Hence the need for progressive schooling and conditioning.

The extension being referenced is the lowering of the croup wherein the hindquarters becomes weight bearing and not for propulsion.

"Head and neck positions influence significantly the kinematics of the ridden horse. It is important for riders and trainers to be aware of these effects in dressage training."
Duh. Hence the study of biomechanics so we can figure out what is best for the horse.

The problem with bantering the word biomechanics around is that most do not have the ability to comprehend the affects of even minor bit pressurs upon the muscle structure.

SH, dressage can be done correctly.
I have never said it cannot be done correctly. What I say and stand by is simply that the rules stipulate descriptions that are for the benefit of the horse. And as such these must be met, even when schooling but of course not to the degree of competition.
Now, if your opinion differs, start a spinoff thread. Last time you did though I personally presented some valid (and honest and respectful) opinion and questions and you buggered off, so maybe this time try to stick around, eh?

I did not leave because of you, for you are respectful and it is appreciated.

Oh there is another study with regards to rider movement and it is an eye opener. A quiet seat is not so easily attained unless the rider is supple.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19469236

alto
Feb. 21, 2011, 10:42 PM
Do you have the opportunity to trail ride once or twice a week?

Do Xrays show any changes in the joints? arthritis etc?

bethwrogillio
Feb. 22, 2011, 11:07 AM
Do you have the opportunity to trail ride once or twice a week?

Do Xrays show any changes in the joints? arthritis etc?

Yes I can go out on trail...and yes she has arthritis in that one stifle...

Equibrit
Feb. 22, 2011, 03:47 PM
Hills, hills, hills. Build the muscles to support the joint better.

Valentina_32926
Feb. 23, 2011, 02:24 PM
Voted for 2/3 level dressage - but with the understanding it is when the horse is in self carriage and sitting - not strung out. Scores in recognized shows 65% and over at those levels.

Mozart
Feb. 23, 2011, 02:38 PM
Also, keep in mind that a 2'9" hunter is not going to jump 6 times per week. I am going to say that most probably jump 2x week? Plus, most do not work super hard as they don't want lower level hunters to be really all that fit.

I think re-directing a horse like yours to a career as a lower level hunter is a very viable alternative with the following provisos:

1) Horse gets proper rest and rehab
2) Work on getting muscle building around the affected joint (as Equibrit pointed out)
3)Horse gets jumped only as much as necessary.
4) Horse gets a schooling regime that takes into account his issues (i.e. not spending the whole ride on a circle)

Perfect Pony
Feb. 23, 2011, 03:36 PM
I think the reason most people pick dressage is because most horses you see ridden in dressage these days are NOT in shape and are ridden for too long in one frame. That's the death of the hind leg.

Ain't that the truth. Almost every horse at my current barn is totally lame behind. Watching an out of shape horse ridden in the same cranked in frame doing a 20 meter circle for 30-60 minutes is so sad. Add in a rider with a poor seat and hands sitting the trot almost the entire time, and dressage is hell on a horses hind end.

bethwrogillio
Feb. 24, 2011, 11:30 AM
Thanks for your thoughts Mozart, and every body :) Very helpful