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SisterToSoreFoot
Jun. 11, 2011, 09:57 PM
The other day I had a conversation with another rider that hinged on whether or not the reins were "needed" to really do dressage work. Their argument was that a properly educated seat and legs is all that's needed to really get the horse round, supple etc. Rein contact, if used at all, should only be introduced once the rider achieves an ideal communication through the seat.

On one hand, I agree that a lot of work can be done on loose rein--no doubt reining horses on loose contact often round and engage their back. I also agree that many dressage riders (including myself, at times, I'm sure) are too "hand-y." On the other, our sport requires more than just engaging the back. It involves asking for more uphill driving power, and softness in the poll and jaw that can only be accomplished/tested by communicating through the reins. Furthermore, the contact should be something the horse actively seeks--there is a clear difference between the benefits of long and low (a stretched frame on contact) and a less structured/less beneficial low frame that comes from a horse on a looped rein. Finally, the "circle of aids" that leg to hand creates is simply safer/comforting for young horses or those that need leadership. It's part of submission.

On the second point, if we all waited to get our seats perfect before taking up the reins, I mightaswell saw off my reins tonight. I guess I don't see the logic in taking away one aid in dressage to help you work on another, at least not for a lengthy period of time. Dressage riders need to learn to coordinate the aids, and the horse will make it clear when your seat isn't working or your hands are too unforgiving. Still, I can sort of see how isolating the aids could help with learning/refining them.

I'm guessing I'm preaching to the choir here, but are there any other benefits of contact that I'm forgetting? Or any info on where this notion comes from? Is there a specific school of dressage that advocates waiting some time before using the contact? Does anyone agree with this/practice this? Or does anyone do this when training horses, i.e. start off for a while without contact and get the seat aids down first?

It was an interesting conversation, and I'd love to hear any thoughts.

creekridgefarm
Jun. 11, 2011, 10:31 PM
Ehhhh........ where to start??

Reins can be a great way to help a young horse learn to work between the aids, keep themselves aligned, etc. Also, there must be a "stop" somewhere. When we think of bringing the energy from back to front, if there isn't something for the energy to come up to, it will just escape out the front end. Does this make any sense??? It's hard to put into adequate words here :)

Also, think of side reins. They help to introduce carriage to the horse. While MAYBE in a perfect world one would have the most absolutely fabulous seat and never need anything -- bridle or saddle. But it obviously serves the purpose and even though I use my reins far less than anything else, it's a good safety feature on most models :)

luchiamae
Jun. 12, 2011, 05:36 AM
Reins serve a purpose, that's what they are there for!! I'm all for riding a horse on a loose rein and really working on your seat and legs, but just curious... how the hell do you stop a bolting horse with your seat?

Lost_at_C
Jun. 12, 2011, 05:53 AM
Ditto the above posts. Contact with the bit is the first level of partnership. People who reject contact seem to be labouring under the assumption that a bit is inherently restrictive - when used properly by both horse AND rider it should be a bridge between the two. I like to think of it as the gauge of the partnership. In addition to being a good point for refined aids, the bit connection is also kind of like a car's tachometer - I doubt I could perceive heaviness on the forehand or evasions of the head/neck nearly so quickly with looped reins. I want a light contact, but I need it to exist first and foremost.

Furthermore, our discipline has battlefield origins. The reins are there for a purpose. Even the best rider imaginable would have an awfully hard time communicating with only isolated parts of the body while also fending off off an opponent. There may be times when legs have to be used as human legs, not as aids! While modern competetive dressage may have evolved in a different tangent, for me it should still be about subtlety and refinement of communication, and also some degree of finesse in the range of classical aids.

naturalequus
Jun. 12, 2011, 09:46 AM
Okay, Devil's Advocate here ;)

Of course reins serve a purpose and they are greatly beneficial - and obviously a horse who is accepting of contact and soft in the jaw and poll is vital. However a horse can be ridden in such a way where it will naturally pick up contact with a bit, yet not have a bit and reins (eta: to a point). It is not necessary to ride the horse on contact to teach it to accept and seek contact either, if you progress that horse up the training scale. If they are relaxed, rhythmic, supple, and otherwise ridden correctly, they will naturally seek that contact as a natural progression and extension of their foundation. Contact is never initiated by the rider - it is initiated by the horse as a natural progression of the training scale. Eta: of course at this point, where the horse is initiating contact, it becomes beneficial for the rider to pick up contact also (whether on a loose rein or by picking up the slack), to further refine and guide the horse's movements and progression.

I think the fact we can (and do) use the circle of aids to create a cycle, does not mean it cannot be done without reins (eta: once learnt, I mean). What about the horses who naturally move uphill and in a very collected frame, without a rider, even? No reins there to catch and recycle energy. Or the riders who can achieve such bridleless (eta: and no, I am not referring to reining horses necessarily)? The energy is still caught and recycled, by way of how the horse is worked and developed. The reins, then, are merely a refining aid. They can allow the cycle of energy to perpetuate, or they can effectively halt it, however they do not generate the cycle of energy themselves (eta: that said, they can provide the rider an effective means of communication to teach the horse to initiate and cycle such energy).

I don't feel the type of thinking the OP mentions is a rejection of contact, but that there is validation in working a horse on a loose rein and off your seat. Doing so, however, is a matter of personal preference and different way of approach, imo. Starting young horses, all my initial work is done on a loose rein (no side reins, either). I want to encourage self-carriage and responsibility in the horse, and I do so via patterns and exercises. I correct where necessary. Then as we approach contact on the training scale, I can start using more contact simply by taking up the slack - at that time the horse is ready for it because it has been worked in such a way that contact is simply a natural progression of our work thus far. I take up slack as the horse gives me slack. The reins then are used to guide and as a refining aid. (eta: this is where contact could be continued for the purpose of teaching the horse a progressively higher degree of engagement and elevation, then be tapered off as subtlety is developed, increased, built)

How do you stop a bolt on a loose rein? Um, not to be captain obvious here, but you just pick up the reins ;) If you're worried about a bolt while working a horse bridleless, you and the horse probably are not ready for liberty work yet ;) (eta: barring exceptions of course). By the time you work a horse bridleless, you have (hopefully!) developed a great deal of mental and emotional collection in the horse - that's why I love dressage :)

creekridgefarm
Jun. 12, 2011, 11:36 AM
Another thing to add here, to naturalequus' response...


Riding without reins is a great exercise. We were always encouraged to take a break from the reins once in a while for an entire ride and complete squares, serpentines, circles, etc. It was a great test to see how well we had the horse under our seats and between the leg aids...

Also, in regards to the side reins, I should have made it more clear to never use the side reins until the horse is reaching/stretching for contact on the lunge without them. And this must be happening consistently. Then and only then should they be introduced and should still be quite long. Too many people shorten them right up and wonder why their horse learns a bunch of new evasion tactics!

J-Lu
Jun. 12, 2011, 11:37 PM
The other day I had a conversation with another rider that hinged on whether or not the reins were "needed" to really do dressage...

My THoughts:

There are huge benefits to rein aids, as much as their are to seat aids, weight aids, leg aids, etc. All require proper training and riding.

The seat aids are limited in dressage without the rein aids. How do you create upper level frame in extensions and collected work without reins *educating* the seat aids? There is always some kind of cue educating the front end of the horse. You cannot train the dressage horse without rein aids, as much as you cannot train the horse without seat or leg aids. If you aren't proficient with your rein aids, then you aren't proficiently training your horse.

Loose reins: no reining horse is prepared for upper level dressage work. They are flat - too flat for dressage. Reins as an aid are required for this work, similarly to an educated seat and leg. Those with educated aids are usually those who can train all types of horses to some proficiency in dressage.

As you state, the proficient dressage rider has an effective seat, plus effective hands and legs. This is all related.

Dressage requires contact at all levels - different kinds of contact depending on the horse and the level of training. The rider who cannot accomodate that contact is not an effective dressage rider.

chisamba
Jun. 13, 2011, 06:15 AM
I have a great fun exercise I do with my kids when i am trying to teach the concept of contact: I would do the same with your friend who says loop the reins: make it a party game:

set up, in the aisle, buckets, brushes, lead ropes in some sort of an obstacle course: now blind fold a person: give them a rein: okay, now have a second person hold the other end of the rein.

so: the game is to get through the obstacle course in the shortest time. any element that is disturbed, touched or knocked leads to five seconds added.

Now, the challenges, go through once with a looped rein, and using voice or touch to say, stop, left, left, a little right ( get my meaning) and go through once with no loop in the rein and simply lead the person through.

Taking a horse through a test is similar to this, the horse may not be blind, but they do not know where they are going or what comes next, having a contact is simply the most direct, easiest and least confusing way to negotiate the maze, as it were :0)

DutchDressageQueen
Jun. 13, 2011, 07:23 AM
Reins can be a great way to help a young horse learn to work between the aids, keep themselves aligned, etc. Also, there must be a "stop" somewhere. When we think of bringing the energy from back to front, if there isn't something for the energy to come up to, it will just escape out the front end. Does this make any sense??? It's hard to put into adequate words here :)



Exactly, if you don't have reins, than the power and thrust forward created from back to front will just "leave the horse" and the horse will be running.

creekridgefarm
Jun. 13, 2011, 10:21 AM
By the time you work a horse bridleless, you have (hopefully!) developed a great deal of mental and emotional collection in the horse - that's why I love dressage :)

While I thoroughly enjoy watching the partnership between horse and rider in a bridleless performance, I often wonder how much of it is because the rider is so perfect with their seat/core and how much is because the horse is only ever stuck in a habit. Obviously one can steer sans reins, but the carriage? Is it truly carriage, or just a frame that is so ingrained in the horse it just "goes that way"? Show me forward and down without a bridle when someone on the ground says "go" and not during a test that can be rehearsed 238879792367 times, and I'll believe :)

Again, not saying it's not really cool to watch, but it always leaves me with some doubts.

ponysize
Jun. 13, 2011, 10:30 AM
My pony would be more than happy to go back to doing all her work on a too long rein--so she could go back to doing it incorrectly and "easy". As someone who is just getting back into really riding and relearning correct aids, in the last two months the one thing that is solidly drilled into my head at this point is knowing when my reins are too long--and it is most apparent at the halt--when I'm not really even "using" them.

naturalequus
Jun. 13, 2011, 10:53 AM
FYI:
Linda Parelli has had several occasions when demonstrating bridless riding of her horse becoming nearly not stopable.

Um... so? What's a random anecdote about someone (unrelated to this thread) got to do with my post or this topic??

naturalequus
Jun. 13, 2011, 11:02 AM
Sorry, I had to edit a lot as I re-think and further delve into this issue! Editing some for clarity, some because I re-thought what I wrote and had to change some of my written perspective here in this post, based on points I thought of based on my own experiences, or that have been brought up:


While I thoroughly enjoy watching the partnership between horse and rider in a bridleless performance, I often wonder how much of it is because the rider is so perfect with their seat/core and how much is because the horse is only ever stuck in a habit. Obviously one can steer sans reins, but the carriage? Is it truly carriage, or just a frame that is so ingrained in the horse it just "goes that way"? Show me forward and down without a bridle when someone on the ground says "go" and not during a test that can be rehearsed 238879792367 times, and I'll believe :)

Again, not saying it's not really cool to watch, but it always leaves me with some doubts.

creekridgefarm, I completely agree with you. It can be really difficult to differentiate between a horse who is only doing a certain maneuver or what 'out of habit' - ie, as part of a re-inforced and repeated exercise, sort of in a 'robotic' sense - and one who is doing so based on the rider's cues and their willingness/partnership toward said rider. This can pertain to the horse ridden in a bridle or without - either type of training is not restricted to any certain discipline or application or what.

All that said, I don't think the (initial, progressive) concept of at least a higher degree of collection is possible to be taught to a horse without the use of reins, though I could be wrong. That said, it can be taught without the use of contact as we know it in dressage. Contact is still a critical component obviously, though contact can be 'done' on a loose rein (the horse is still picking up the bit and thus contact and communication with the rider, just the rider maintains a droop in the rein). Ultimately though if you were to work a horse with absolutely no reins, you start at the bottom, and that will include working a horse on contact (at a certain point it becomes necessary). I wouldn't just pull a bridle off a green horse freshly started u/s - :no: I have to build the communication, skill, partnership - all the tools responsible for a successful ride bridleless. You start with all the essential communicative aids then as you build and progress the horse, your partnership with that horse, and your communication with that horse (with the goal of subtlety), you can gradually decrease and even remove certain aids. I think it is entirely possible to ask a horse to engage - even to a high level - without the use of reins, but I am not convinced you can teach a horse to engage (to an extent) without the use of reins. The reins serve an important function to teach and communicate, especially initially, as the horse is learning. After that point, it can be argued it is merely habit or that the horse is responding according to the rider's cues that create that way of moving, but even then their response will be built upon developed and established knowledge, or 'habit' of sorts...

Eta: as I edited above, 'contact', does not necessarily mean there cannot be any droop in the rein. I think collection can be taught on a loose rein, but this is where weighted reins and such come in to play as effective tools of communication. Reins are still necessary to teach the horse initially to move with a progressively higher degree of collection, but as the horse picks up the bit (ie, picks up contact, even if the contact includes a droopy rein), the rider can then guide, refine, and communicate their desire(s) as they mold the horse's manner of moving... and gradually decrease the use of such an aid to riding the horse bridleless.

As I mentioned in my first post, I teach young/new/etc horses initially on a loose rein so as to develop responsibility and independence in them (for their own gait, path, carriage, etc), but at that point I am not asking for much engagement yet and as I advance them and ask for a higher degree of collection (etc - and my version of a 'higher degree of collection' is not all that 'high' in the grand scheme of things, as I use dressage but do not compete dressage or train dressage to the UL), I start picking up the slack in the reins. Then had I wanted, I could slowly taper off that contact on my part, and working toward bridleless work... With the young horses, I could continue to progress the horse on a drooped rein (even with respect to contact) instead of picking up that slack, but that's just my way of doing things.

Eta: as this pertains to the OP's original post...

Imo as I think about it further, I actually think you can do it on a loose rein, but then it would not be called dressage ;) Developing a horse to increasingly engage on a drooped rein is difficult and another discipline altogether. And really J-Lu, a reiner is not that far off from a dressage horse, or does not have to be at least. If you watch a lot of them, they actually can engage much the same as a dressage horse - all on a loopy rein. Actually I can ride my Quarab on a loose rein with some degree of collection, and it would only be a matter of further progressive exercises (etc) to develop a higher degree of collection. One of the mares (very much like my Quarab, incidentally) at the barn I ride at is ridden in such a fashion - very engaged. All this was taught and is maintained on a loose rein. Further progressive exercises will develop a higher degree of collection. The reins are merely a tool for communication, whether loose or not, and the horse will still respond appropriately and pick up the bit and contact, whether you maintain a droop in the rein or not.

Yes, the horse should be responsive to the rider's seat first (imo). This means slowing, adding impulsion, and changing direction (etc) according to the rider's seat. Then contact (which just means the horse establishes 'contact' and being on the bit) is required to further develop the horse... and after that point contact via reins may not be required (ie, bridleless) to initiate what the horse already understands. Re-reading my first post, I think I was unclear in this respect. I don't mean that a person can teach a horse to engage and collect to a high degree with no reins, but that they can ask for such once the horse already understands the rider's expectations and cues, especially since such collection is initiated and maintained by the horse. This follows also for working a horse on a loose rein - since collection is initiated and maintained by the horse, as long as contact is there (in the form of the horse picking up the bit and the rider communicating to the horse via the reins, droopy or not), it is certainly possible for a horse to be taught and to maintain a high degree of collection, all on a loose rein.

Hopefully my stance is a little clearer now. I know I was a bit all over the place as I developed my answer, so hopefully my posts are not too confusing. I had to really think about this one!!! Jmho and my $0.02 cents, for what it's worth :)

*sigh* this is getting too deep - I don't like having to think this much this 'early' in the morning! ;)

2DogsFarm
Jun. 13, 2011, 11:19 AM
If I can add a kindergarten-level rider's $.02 regarding stopping a bolt w/o reins:

My sometimes (2X month when & if I'm able) dressage trainer is all about biomechanics.
From her I am relearning the muscle-memory aids I need to ride correctly.
This means replacing years of imbedded "Drive from your seat" learning.

A couple weeks ago I had my horse out for a ride around my property.
This would be Ride #2 outside since I've had him - 2 years in December.
When I asked for trot he became very elevated & light in front - prepping for a bolt you might say, that's what it felt like from on top.
Instead of using reins to hold him I used an opening knee & (wonder of wonders) he settled for me.
And a small, dim bulb went off in my head - Biomechanics: It Works! :yes:

mvp
Jun. 13, 2011, 11:22 AM
The seat aids are limited in dressage without the rein aids. How do you create upper level frame in extensions and collected work without reins *educating* the seat aids? There is always some kind of cue educating the front end of the horse. You cannot train the dressage horse without rein aids, as much as you cannot train the horse without seat or leg aids. If you aren't proficient with your rein aids, then you aren't proficiently training your horse.

Loose reins: no reining horse is prepared for upper level dressage work. They are flat - too flat for dressage. Reins as an aid are required for this work, similarly to an educated seat and leg. Those with educated aids are usually those who can train all types of horses to some proficiency in dressage.

I think of reins and hand as "a means to an end." That end is a horse that goes off of the rider's seat, weight and leg. The hand should be "decorative."

Sometimes I think that idea (convenient for the battle field, enjoyable for the horse) gets lost in the talk about having a horse submit to the bridle or push into contact. Yes, most of us will spend most of our time using the bridle to help package the energy we create. But the goal should always be less "talk" with the hand, IMO.

I do think things get confused, too, when people compare the German and French approaches to educating a horse about the hand versus the other aids. On any given day, I try to ride toward the goal of getting the horse to do all I'd like with that fat loop in the reins. If you get the chance to ride a really good reining horse, you'll know how much can be done without the kind of direct contact that gets so much airplay in DressageWorld.

naturalequus
Jun. 13, 2011, 11:38 AM
I think of reins and hand as "a means to an end." That end is a horse that goes off of the rider's seat, weight and leg. The hand should be "decorative."

Sometimes I think that idea (convenient for the battle field, enjoyable for the horse) gets lost in the talk about having a horse submit to the bridle or push into contact. Yes, most of us will spend most of our time using the bridle to help package the energy we create. But the goal should always be less "talk" with the hand, IMO.

I do think things get confused, too, when people compare the German and French approaches to educating a horse about the hand versus the other aids. On any given day, I try to ride toward the goal of getting the horse to do all I'd like with that fat loop in the reins. If you get the chance to ride a really good reining horse, you'll know how much can be done without the kind of direct contact that gets so much airplay in DressageWorld.

I should have just kept my mouth shut and let mvp take the words out of my mouth :)

Imo the above should be every rider's goal, to use aids that are increasingly softer, quieter, more subtle. Then the removal of said aids (one day) is only a natural progression at the height of subtlety.

Gloria
Jun. 13, 2011, 06:43 PM
So many people are caught up with end results that they often forget the journey to the end is never the same as the end itself. Just because a great rider on a well trained horse should be able to ride without a bridle, does not mean we all should ride without one, because, guess what, those great riders on great horses all start with bridles.

Those riders have a specific goal in their minds, and they employ every aid possible to convey their intentions and meanings to their horses to reach that goal, and that include a set of bridle (among a whole slew of tool kit he/she owns). Without it, you are setting your horse up for failures, confusing your pupil the horse and is rather unkind.

It doesn't mean bridles are necessary for riding: it does only mean they are important tools to teach.

Imagine a school teacher who refuses to talk (or write, or use hand signal, whatever) in a classroom and expect his/her pupils to learn a lesson - very frustrating; I'd hate to be in those students' shoes.

Bluey
Jun. 13, 2011, 07:15 PM
My opinion, we ride like we do depending on what we want to achieve.

There is a whole group of riders that overheard somewhere the expression "independent seat, independent of our hands for balance" and took off running with the false idea that it meant an independent seat means just that, you DON'T use your reins at all and then, voila, you have an independent seat.
I have heard that myself, will spare you where.:p

Those people just don't understand the technical parts of riding, the many aids and how to use them and why.
Their horses struggle around bumbling here and there.:no:

As anyone that truly rides without reins can tell you, the longer you go without reins, the more the horse's performance will devolve, the horse will lose exactitude and balance.

You can get by thru a test or reining class bridleless, but you go back to use a bit to keep the horse GUIDED and COLLECTED.
Even with a loopy rein, the reins and bit and the hand holding the reins are communicating.

You can see all those people riding without anything and happily cruising along, the horses haphazardly wandering here and there, aids fuzzy and the clueless riders smiling proudly because they don't use reins, or barely use them, without any idea of what good, basic riding is.
Fine if that is all what the kind of riding you do demands of a horse, not so good if you want to eventually compete against those that will have more complex and technical demands of what is to be accomplished.

I agree, it is wonderful when you and your horse are so finely tuned you can do a whole CORRECT test without a bridle, but again, as the test goes on, the performance will become less and less exact.
Then you go back to train with ALL the aids at our disposition and why not?
Doing so is the easiest and so most FAIR to the horse.

Riding, the idea is to do so on the best trained to be guided and balanced horse, so the job at hand is the easiest and safest for the horse.
Riding without a bridle may show you where you are, for a little try here and there, but is counterproductive to train or ride often like that, for the already explained reasons.

Like the previous example, sure, you can do anything you do well in a passable manner while seeing with a blindfold, but why would you regularly be trying to do that.;)

DutchDressageQueen
Jun. 13, 2011, 07:30 PM
My THoughts:

There are huge benefits to rein aids, as much as their are to seat aids, weight aids, leg aids, etc. All require proper training and riding.

The seat aids are limited in dressage without the rein aids. How do you create upper level frame in extensions and collected work without reins *educating* the seat aids? There is always some kind of cue educating the front end of the horse. You cannot train the dressage horse without rein aids, as much as you cannot train the horse without seat or leg aids. If you aren't proficient with your rein aids, then you aren't proficiently training your horse.

Loose reins: no reining horse is prepared for upper level dressage work. They are flat - too flat for dressage. Reins as an aid are required for this work, similarly to an educated seat and leg. Those with educated aids are usually those who can train all types of horses to some proficiency in dressage.

As you state, the proficient dressage rider has an effective seat, plus effective hands and legs. This is all related.

Dressage requires contact at all levels - different kinds of contact depending on the horse and the level of training. The rider who cannot accomodate that contact is not an effective dressage rider.

I couldn't have said it better!
Great comment!

netg
Jun. 13, 2011, 07:42 PM
Even with a loopy rein, the reins and bit and the hand holding the reins are communicating.


Absolutely! This is why you will see most of the top western trainers (at least among those with whom I have ridden!) riding on contact in a snaffle to start a horse. Once it graduates to riding with one hand and a curb bit, the horse has already learned to be sensitive to changes in the weight of the reins as they hang on the bit - less weight when the rider lifts their hand, a shift in the feel on their mouth, poll and chin as the rider "bumps" with the lifted hand without ever actually reaching contact. These trainers will regularly ride in a snaffle w/ two hands to ensure the horses are still properly responding.


I like to drop the reins and practice turning and transitions in basic self-carriage. I'm sure plenty of people here would find that horrifying. However, it certainly is not a way to get collected gaits or really train. In my case, it is a way of refining sensitivity to seat/leg/weight aids for my TB, and ensuring those buttons are still there to press. I wouldn't even consider doing it with the less sensitive Friesian-x, though! She'd go "ooh, you don't have control, I'm running away to a pasture!" Incidentally, I love longe lessons on the TB, and wouldn't consider them on the Friesian mare. She's... ahem... less agreeable. Maybe in time she's change her attitude a bit, but it won't happen with the one she had when we got her!

Equibrit
Jun. 13, 2011, 07:42 PM
It is an age old debate;
http://www.artofnaturaldressage.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=521

"Some classical/baroque dressage trainers in the 20th en 21th century still use the bit like this: it's there not to be used, but it's there as a reminder of the horse, an active correction that sets in as soon as the horse does something wrong, with a very good timing because even though the reins are hanging through, there still is only that much room for error. The horse is given the chance to avoid contact with the bit: as opposed to modern dressage riders since Steinbrecht at the end of the 19th century, who teach the horse to 'lean' into the bit by focussing more on the forwards quality of movement. Instead of first teaching collection on a loose rein and then going more forwards like in the past, these riders now take forwards riding with a stronger contact towards more collected movement. But the horse is always 'on the bit'. Not real leaning into it with their whole body, but always taking up contact, always following the bit when the reins give more room into that steady contact between the hands of the rider and the mouth of the horse. The horse learns to accept this constant contact/pressure as normal, and more pressure as a correction.


Francois Baucher

Francois Baucher kind of went back to the baroque dressage: not only did he introduce a lot of flexions in halt as a preliminary stage to riding forwards, but he also went back to the horse staying off the bit, avoiding coming in contact with it as much as possible. This got him a lot of critique from the 'ride your horse forwards' camp, but also a few famous followers, like Nuno Oliveira, who was a advocate of holding nothing but the weight of the reins in his hands.


Nuno Oliveira

The interesting thing is that all these 'hanging rein' riders saw the bit as a teaching tool for the horse, not as a tool to maintain collection. As long as the horse was collected, the bit wasn't there are the reins were hanging through. As soon as the horse left the frame of collection that the rider had chosen for him, he would get a corrections from the bit that he bumped into. And real classical/baroque trainers still follow this line of thought in that they regularly check the state of collection by dropping the reins to check if the horse hasn't become too dependant on the bit - the horse shouldn't follow the reins down like many riders nowadays want, but he should maintain the same collected frame in the same exercise:"

Kyzteke
Jun. 13, 2011, 10:43 PM
Lots of great thoughts here -- it's an issue I've pondered quite a bit.

Riding TRULY bridleless (without even a neck rope) is one thing, but simply riding on a loose rein does not mean there is no contact. Most bits work off of the horse's bars, lips & tongue-- all VERY sensitive tissue.

I maintain that even if there is a loop in the reins you can maintain LIGHT contact. And that used to be one of the goals of dressage -- part of harmony -- to not have to tug, pull and yank.

This "riding the curb" style seems pretty new, judging by older videos and even paintings. By the time the horse got to the curb or double bridle, he was so light in the hand that bit "contact" was whisper soft and most of the communication was via seat & leg.

So "loop in reins" does not = 0 contact.

I find it interesting that the goal of most so-called "cowboy" riders is to make the horse soft and "light in the bridle", but not so much in dressage. Seems to me it should be the same at least.

Gloria
Jun. 13, 2011, 11:10 PM
There is a big difference between doing a reining pattern and doing a dressage test.

In a reining pattern, a loopy rein is possible because each pattern is somehow separate from the next: the rider perform one maneuver, stop, prepare the horse for the next, start the next maneuver, stop, and so on and so forth. In this type of performance, the rider has the leisure of time to carefully pick up the rein (even slightly) to cue the horse for the next movement, and so they have the leisure to drop the reins when the horse is doing the movement, while in the movement.

You don't see that in dressage. In dressage, one movement flows seamlessly to the next. You don't see a test saying, trot twenty meter left circle, stop at X and prepare the horse, trot twenty meter circle to right, stop and prepare the horse, go to A, stop and prepare the horse, cross the diagonal, stop and prepare the horse, and so on and so forth.

In dressage test, you always prepare your hore for next movement while you are riding one movement prior. If you try to ride with a loopy rein while riding a dressage test, what will happen is, loopy rein - bam at the horse's mouth - loopy rein - bam at the horse' mouth - and so on and so forth. All your finess is lost while you are fiddling with the reins. You are in reality punishing your horse by surprising him with drastic changes of contact (and often harsh aid in your urgency to pick up the reins) in his mouth, instead of closing your fingers to caress it, which a rein with contact can afford.

Of course a horse that had achieved true self carriage may not need rein at all, but that does not mean that he should be be ridden that way at all time.

Many masters say a horse "should" be able to do this and do that. That does not mean that we as a rider should ride our horse that way at all time, just like a serious show jumper should never go up to a jump without a crop, even if that horse does not need one. After all, bit is there, if not for anything, as an aid, which is repeatedly mentioned in all of the old masters' teachings.

naturalequus
Jun. 14, 2011, 12:52 AM
I disagree Gloria - Kyzteke addressed the issue really well imo. Loopy reins do not = 0 contact. The horse can still be 'on the bit' and maintaining 'contact' albeit on a loose rein. The feeling is there when you ride such a horse. Therefore there is no need for multiple drastic changes in contact (as in, picking up all the slack in the rein) because the horse remains on the bit throughout, and in fact, you don't see reiners stopping and preparing their horses with drastic changes in contact. There is pretty good flow here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FeV3f93DTs&feature=related. I can assure you too with the horses I have ridden in such a fashion (though of course not nearly at this level!), I was not picking up and dropping the reins constantly and offering the drastic changes you mention. At that level especially, communication is subtle and all that is required as a correction is a lifting of the hand and reins, when necessary, not a total collection of any slack.

(To add to Kyzteke's post, this is where the gradual progression to a spade bit comes in - by the time a rider attains the level whereby a spade bit may be used, they have mastered the art of subtlety and intimate communication with that horse. The spade though is another tool with which one is maintaining that contact because at that point, the horse is holding the bit and maintaining an appropriate outline).

I don't think anyone here (?) has made the argument a horse should be ridden bridleless at all times, just that it is possible to maintain carriage in the horse without the use of reins, or on a drooped rein (which includes contact).

Equibrit, I really appreciate your post - I found it quite enlightening, myself.

horsefaerie
Jun. 14, 2011, 01:08 AM
I posted a while back that S Clarke had taken my bridle and stirrups away for a dressage test many years ago. He was trying to make a point about using the seat. It worked.

Then perhaps a decade later I was at an LTJ clinic and a woman had brought a lovely horse who was trained I believe to Grand Prix. I rode the horse in a neck ring and got a very nice piaffe.

I think it is a treat for the horse and a necessity for the rider if the goal is self carriage and lightness (regardless of the opinion in the latest USDF mag).

naturalequus
Jun. 14, 2011, 01:32 AM
I just wanted to add a little more perspective on the bridleless riding, if I may.

First, to be clear, bridleless riding is not necessarily to be equated with riding a horse on a loose rein, especially not as we speak of using a loose rein in this thread. When the horse picks up contact as a natural progression of its training, it may do so on a loose rein, and the rider engage the horse 'on contact'. The horse is still 'on the bit', just the rider maintains a certain rein length according to their preference and discipline. This is much more difficult to achieve bridleless and is only achieved (imo) after the horse has learnt such with contact (whether on a loose rein or on a collected rein) and horse and rider have established a very subtle, very intimate, very precise and exact manner of communicating.

Bridleless is like a whole other discipline almost, a whole 'nother level. A rider's goal, imo, should always be to achieve the utmost subtlety with a horse, the most intimate communication possible. This goal should transcend all disciplines, imo, btw. This is not difficult to achieve and actually may be achieved fairly quickly, even in the greenbean. Within the first few rides on a young horse, my young horses know to halt or transition down according to my weight, without even shifting or closing my hand. Leg aids are taught with the goal of lightness and within a few rides of their being taught, I should be able to guide that horse just via my legs. As someone posted in the dressage quotes thread "a loud rider makes a deaf horse". Well, a quiet rider also makes a very attentive and responsive horse. Then my last goal is developing sufficient willingness in the horse, the desire to be with me - where I am not depending on ropes and reins to keep the horse with me. At that point, after developing all the above qualities, I can remove the bridle. It's not rocket science and is rather simple!

At that point, the horse is yet developing pushing power and maybe is engaging a little, but to a very minimal degree - enough that they are not bumbling around on their forehand (and they will a little initially, depending on their natural way of moving, their conformation, etc, as they learn to balance themselves beneath a rider and as they learn to engage at least minimally). They cannot be expected yet though to really have much carrying power - they lack sufficient strength and balance yet. That strength and balance takes awhile to develop. When you take the bridle off, you lose that ability to communicate to the young and/or green horse how precisely you want them to move yet. As you develop engagement and collection in the bridle, you can ask more bridleless because the horse understands the concept (under a rider) and your cues. In the mean time, you spend minimal time allowing the horse to bumble around on the forehand. In bridle, it doesn't take much to encourage the horse to engage a little (sufficient that they are off the forehand). Once they are soft, you can start pushing them inside leg to outside rein a little (ie, lifting that inside shoulder and maintaining a proper bend and thus balance) and putting them through exercises and patterns that at least encourage them to be flat if not a little engaged. Then as you progress them through the training scale of course and you condition and strengthen them over the months, you can gradually ask for further engagement. In the mean time, any bridleless work done is done in almost a test (and a little refinement) format. It allows you to see where you are at and to work on further subtlety. You can ask the horse to perform patterns and exercises (as simple as circular patterns) that at least keep him level and not so much on the forehand. You do a bit here and there and as such, maintain with the horse (and you!) that the reins are not depended on and that the horse maintain responsibility and independence. If you can ride a horse bridleless, you can sure as heck accomplish more in the bridle! Then gradually as you develop your horse in the bridle, you can start transferring that to bridleless - you can start asking for lateral movements, for bend and softness, etc. You can slowly develop further self-carriage as the horse learns and understands it in the bridle.

Ultimately, a little bridleless work here and there honestly is not going to kill your horse, even if he is bumbling about on the forehand. Even if you never develop self-carriage in the horse at liberty. Really. It is a great tool that allows the rider to gauge where they are at, develop specific holes or areas that are found to be wanting, and has the added benefit of strengthening bond and communication between horse and rider. Most riders who ride their horse bridleless are not doing so (improperly) excessively, imo. Most just do a little here and there, maybe at the end of their sessions or as an individual session periodically.

Should every rider be expected to ride their horse bridleless? Of course not. But that should be their goal, even if they never do it and it is never their ultimate intention. They don't ever have to take the bridle off, but they should be able to drop the reins and still be able to - at the very least - transition their horse down to a halt (even back-up), change direction, and perform at least simple patterns. Optimally, they should be able to do everything they do in the bridle - with no reins. Optimally. That's shooting for the stars for some of us ;) However if we ride with such a goal, even if we never land on the stars, we will at least land on the moon - the results will be a soft, responsive horse in the bridle. I think such is of great benefit to any of us within any discipline, and eliminates many of our common problems.

Artful Spirit
Jun. 14, 2011, 02:55 AM
You said why not do it all on a loose rein.....then it would be called reining.... :-)

Artful Spirit
Jun. 14, 2011, 02:57 AM
Sorry meant to say looped rein...instead of loose rein...

gholem
Jun. 14, 2011, 02:59 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qhuip8kyBTU&feature=related

Edited to add: I'm not suggesting that the horse in this video was only ever trained by being ridden this way. Only after sufficient training with reins can such sensitivity to extremely subtle rein aids be achieved. If you look closely in the above video, it looks like he has the reins attached to his torso, so he can actually neck rein with his body. I think on the halts he can also apply direct rein pressure by leaning back.

Also regarding reins needing to be used in combat - it's quite the opposite. If you're in the middle of a battle, the last thing you want is both hands on the reins. If you're holding a shield and sword or lance (heavy cavalry), or bow (light cavalry), you have no hands with which to hold reins. If you use reins at all it will be with one hand, which would almost certainly mean neck reining without constant contact.

mvp
Jun. 14, 2011, 08:09 AM
I have ridden more dressage horses than reiners, but I disagree with Gloria.

You make reining sound so crude! I don't think reiners have lots of time to stop, bump their horse in the mouth, re-lift the shoulders, change the bend or whatever. The good ones also don't move the hand a whole lot. Riding a couple of made reiners, my hand stayed in a "box" just ahead of the saddle horn that was perhaps 4" on each side.

I also don't see the point of insisting that a horse tolerate this or that kind of contact or bit. It bugs me when I see this in discussions of the ideal dressage horse. I tolerate it a little better in WesternWorld where horses over the age of 5 can't compete in snaffles. That's because the horse is supposed to be educated to work from a "signal bit." He's supposed to know what its movement in his mouth means in terms of rearranging the rest of his body. I think the great western trainer doesn't actually care what goes in beastie's mouth so long as the rest of him is right. In fact, that's why they'll build custom bits for horses. I think that good Dressagers don't actually care what kind of snaffle their horses go in either. Whether they want the horse to push into whatever bit is up front, or consistently soften to it, the bit and contact isn't really the point.

CFFarm
Jun. 14, 2011, 11:15 AM
In dressage a horse should "look" for contact.

Equibrit
Jun. 14, 2011, 12:31 PM
In dressage a horse should "look" for contact.

It depends on whose version of dressage you subscribe to.
Baroque or crank & spank.

monstrpony
Jun. 14, 2011, 12:37 PM
In dressage a horse should "look" for contact.


It depends on whose version of dressage you subscribe to.
Baroque or crank & spank.

Also, whose version of contact ;)

CFFarm
Jun. 14, 2011, 12:40 PM
It depends on whose version of dressage you subscribe to.
Baroque or crank & spank.

As several others have pointed out, even with a looped rein, there is contact. It's not the same as riding on the buckle. Even the ODG's that you mention used "contact" of some sort to train self-carriage.

vineyridge
Jun. 14, 2011, 12:49 PM
German dressage training and philosophy versus French dressage training and philosophy. I would put the Dutch in with the Germans. The German look is what's winning today. IMO, backed up by scientific research, the modern dressage frame as exemplified by German/Dutch dressage is premised on a master/slave relationship that is strongly affected by removing much of the ridden horse's vision. "On the bit" equals partial blindness and increased reliance on the rider.

If you can get the same accuracy without putting the horse in the overflexed dressage frame of today, horse is doing what you want of its own volition, not because you are dominating/forcing it to work in partial blindness.

boosma47
Jun. 14, 2011, 02:58 PM
If I can add a kindergarten-level rider's $.02 regarding stopping a bolt w/o reins:

My sometimes (2X month when & if I'm able) dressage trainer is all about biomechanics.
From her I am relearning the muscle-memory aids I need to ride correctly.
This means replacing years of imbedded "Drive from your seat" learning.

A couple weeks ago I had my horse out for a ride around my property.
This would be Ride #2 outside since I've had him - 2 years in December.
When I asked for trot he became very elevated & light in front - prepping for a bolt you might say, that's what it felt like from on top.
Instead of using reins to hold him I used an opening knee & (wonder of wonders) he settled for me.
And a small, dim bulb went off in my head - Biomechanics: It Works! :yes


This, 2Dogs!!

Our horses reflect how we ride them; their bodies mirror ours, our physical weaknesses and imbalances become theirs.

To be truly balanced in our riding, we allow our horses to do likewise.

Human self carriage ALLOWS equine self carriage.

The reins are for fine tuning, for subtle, whispered signals. There is nothing uglier than a rider holding hard for a release or wiggling the hands to force the horse to reach or soften. IMHO.

Yes, I want my horse to search for my hand happily, but I also want my horse to be enabled to express herself without my interference. That's when we are one, these are the magic moments of riding! :)

Kyzteke
Jun. 14, 2011, 07:15 PM
You said why not do it all on a loose rein.....then it would be called reining.... :-)


Actually, no. It just would not be what you are used to seeing in the modern dressage, that's all.

The fact is, so called "dressage" horses have been ridden like this for centuries. It has nothing to do with 'reining' it has to do with supreme lightness and subtle, yet instantanous communication on a horse.

Look at old prints, paintings and even videos of riders from different schools other than the current German one. You often saw "looped" reins even in the more advanced movements.

Many of these Master strove to have a horse so light in the bridle and working off their hindquarters, that they could do all these movements one handed....which makes sense, because you can't use 2 hands to steer your horse in battle and that's what dressage was -- a stylized way of showing how nimble your horse was!

The Spanish/Portoguese "cowboys" brought this style to California and the tradition stuck. When I talk about "cowboy" training, I'm NOT talking about reining guys.

I'm talking about the actual working cowboys who uphold what is now called the "Californio" tradition in making a bridle horse. To me, this actually reflects baroque-type dressage more than either the modern competitive stuff OR reining.

I've linked to this video several times, but this horse never fails to impress me. Please ignore the bull (I don't like it either, but at least he won't be killed) and simply concentrate on the movements of horse & rider. All the movements of "modern" dressage are there -- and they are all done at speed -- yet rarely are the reins tight. The horse is totally moving off his hindquarters, he is in a perfect state of collection and there is constant communication between horse & rider.

The rider is never o/o balance, always centered, always there for the horses.

This is what might be called "practical" dressage ;).

Imagine riding the curb like these modern guys do when you needed to work cattle or fight a battle -- simply would NOT work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgG_Gwy7Ysg

Gloria
Jun. 14, 2011, 07:39 PM
I have ridden more dressage horses than reiners, but I disagree with Gloria.

You make reining sound so crude! I don't think reiners have lots of time to stop, bump their horse in the mouth, re-lift the shoulders, change the bend or whatever. The good ones also don't move the hand a whole lot. Riding a couple of made reiners, my hand stayed in a "box" just ahead of the saddle horn that was perhaps 4" on each side.

Huh? I made the reining sound cruel? Where did you get that idea from? :confused:I think you completely misunderstood my post.

What I said was, in reining, you stop (or pause or halt) between movements (you got to agree with me on this one if you ever see how top reiners ride). For example, they complete a spin, stop the horse, the rider then carefully picks up the rein, readust his own seat, give leg cue, etc, then do another spin. This is the standard how all reiners ride and that all important time gives the rider the time and finess necessary to start the next movement in good grace. I don't see that as cruel. I see that simply as a way of riding.

You can't do that in dressage.

In dressage, you do not stop the horse to prepare yourself and the horse for the next movement.

In dressage, all the preparation is done while the horse is in action.

If you try to mimic what reiners do in dressage, you "ARE" cruel to the horse, because you inevitably bump the horse's mouth every single time. Why? Because you have to use your arms to pick up the rein, which is just about impossible to have the finess your horse needs you to be when both you and your horse are in action - OK I can't have the finess necessary while my horse is moving under me, and I daresay 99.99% of riders in the world can't either - and if you could, darn, you got to be one heck of great rider).:)

mvp
Jun. 14, 2011, 08:08 PM
Huh? I made the reining sound cruel? Where did you get that idea from? :confused:I think you completely misunderstood my post.

What I said was, in reining, you stop (or pause or halt) between movements (you got to agree with me on this one if you ever see how top reiners ride). For example, they complete a spin, stop the horse, the rider then carefully picks up the rein, readust his own seat, give leg cue, etc, then do another spin. This is the standard how all reiners ride and that all important time gives the rider the time and finess necessary to start the next movement in good grace. I don't see that as cruel. I see that simply as a way of riding.

I said CRUDE not CRUEL. I'm not a reining expert. But their patterns have plenty of parts that doesn't involve a halt between things like changing gaits, directions, speeds or leads.

Yes, reiners do some "futzing" after a spin. The dude pretends he's straightening his hat I think he's giving the horse a moment to settle. But have you ridden one of those? Changes are, the rider is waiting until he's not so dizzy before he moves off again. The spins are fast! The few I have ridden had the bight of the rein fully horizontal.

SisterToSoreFoot
Jun. 14, 2011, 08:45 PM
Actually, no. It just would not be what you are used to seeing in the modern dressage, that's all.

The fact is, so called "dressage" horses have been ridden like this for centuries. It has nothing to do with 'reining' it has to do with supreme lightness and subtle, yet instantanous communication on a horse.

Look at old prints, paintings and even videos of riders from different schools other than the current German one. You often saw "looped" reins even in the more advanced movements.

Many of these Master strove to have a horse so light in the bridle and working off their hindquarters, that they could do all these movements one handed....which makes sense, because you can't use 2 hands to steer your horse in battle and that's what dressage was -- a stylized way of showing how nimble your horse was!

The Spanish/Portoguese "cowboys" brought this style to California and the tradition stuck. When I talk about "cowboy" training, I'm NOT talking about reining guys.

I'm talking about the actual working cowboys who uphold what is now called the "Californio" tradition in making a bridle horse. To me, this actually reflects baroque-type dressage more than either the modern competitive stuff OR reining.

I've linked to this video several times, but this horse never fails to impress me. Please ignore the bull (I don't like it either, but at least he won't be killed) and simply concentrate on the movements of horse & rider. All the movements of "modern" dressage are there -- and they are all done at speed -- yet rarely are the reins tight. The horse is totally moving off his hindquarters, he is in a perfect state of collection and there is constant communication between horse & rider.

The rider is never o/o balance, always centered, always there for the horses.

This is what might be called "practical" dressage ;).

Imagine riding the curb like these modern guys do when you needed to work cattle or fight a battle -- simply would NOT work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgG_Gwy7Ysg


Wow. What a performance. The horse is utterly keen and tuned in. Thanks for posting.

I'm fascinated by the attention this thread has gotten. Such an interesting topic and debate--Equibrit, thanks for the historical context.

I'm conflicted as a rider myself...I don't want my horse too light and backed off the bridle, but I equally hate the feeling (that I've gotten from riding some cranked and spanked school horses) of having a horse that needs to help up and pushed into any kind of carriage.

I want weight in my hands, but not dead weight. It's so interesting to see how many potential paths there are towards the inherent lightness of self carriage.

J-Lu
Jun. 14, 2011, 09:41 PM
I think of reins and hand as "a means to an end." That end is a horse that goes off of the rider's seat, weight and leg. The hand should be "decorative."

Sometimes I think that idea (convenient for the battle field, enjoyable for the horse) gets lost in the talk about having a horse submit to the bridle or push into contact. Yes, most of us will spend most of our time using the bridle to help package the energy we create. But the goal should always be less "talk" with the hand, IMO.

I do think things get confused, too, when people compare the German and French approaches to educating a horse about the hand versus the other aids. On any given day, I try to ride toward the goal of getting the horse to do all I'd like with that fat loop in the reins. If you get the chance to ride a really good reining horse, you'll know how much can be done without the kind of direct contact that gets so much airplay in DressageWorld.

Hi MVP.

The only dressage horse I've every ridden with "decorative" hands was a horse who had no contact with the reins and was incorrectly trained. He "held" himself, didn't use his back or neck at all, and was stuck in a fixed frame. That's not dressage. That's the kind of horse someone takes to a show and then complains about the low score they got (this horse actually was shown and his owner complained greatly about his low scores but he was never connected).

Now, we may be talking about something very different or the same thing very differently. To me, well-trained dressage horses are horses who accept the hand aids, seat and leg aids, too. Reins (with an educated seat) control jaw and poll flexion, help control the neck and shoulders - your seat and legs alone do not control poll flexion or the shoulders.

Yes, some of the western bits have loose reins but they also have significant, sometimes severe, curb action pressing on the roof of the mouth making the horse look "collected" or "on the bit" with loopy reins when it actually is not using it's back at all. Many people confuse this look with "collected", when it isn't collection at all.

Dressage isn't loopy reins, it's not "crank and spank" - neither reflects dressage training. Holding the reins is like holding someone's hand. I'm pretty sure people don't walk hand in hand with their SO and yank them to and fro!

Yes, some dressage riders are very strong in their hands. Some horses wish to balance themselves on the rider's hand. It happens. I agree with you: You want less "yapping" with the hands and more actual "communication".

I agree, I think many people get lost in the words people use to describe the feeling of a correct horse. People seem to want to read "force" into the dressage phrases.

I *have* ridden reining horses! VERY fun! I mean, a blast! Loopy reins, too! But none of them were prepared to do second or third level work, much less upper level work. Yes, I tried movements. Swapping leads is not the same as flying changes. Pivoting is not the same as a pirouette. Reining horses do NOT use their backs and hocks the same way as dressage horses -and why should they? The horses are built differently and move differently. The two sports have very different origins and very different goals. I don't think you can't compare DressageWorld with ReiningWorld.

J-Lu
Jun. 14, 2011, 09:43 PM
Lots of great thoughts here -- it's an issue I've pondered quite a bit.

Riding TRULY bridleless (without even a neck rope) is one thing, but simply riding on a loose rein does not mean there is no contact. Most bits work off of the horse's bars, lips & tongue-- all VERY sensitive tissue.

I maintain that even if there is a loop in the reins you can maintain LIGHT contact. And that used to be one of the goals of dressage -- part of harmony -- to not have to tug, pull and yank.

This "riding the curb" style seems pretty new, judging by older videos and even paintings. By the time the horse got to the curb or double bridle, he was so light in the hand that bit "contact" was whisper soft and most of the communication was via seat & leg.

So "loop in reins" does not = 0 contact.

I find it interesting that the goal of most so-called "cowboy" riders is to make the horse soft and "light in the bridle", but not so much in dressage. Seems to me it should be the same at least.

Hmmmm, I have to disagree.

J-Lu
Jun. 14, 2011, 10:08 PM
Lots of great thoughts here -- it's an issue I've pondered quite a bit.

Riding TRULY bridleless (without even a neck rope) is one thing, but simply riding on a loose rein does not mean there is no contact. Most bits work off of the horse's bars, lips & tongue-- all VERY sensitive tissue.

I maintain that even if there is a loop in the reins you can maintain LIGHT contact. And that used to be one of the goals of dressage -- part of harmony -- to not have to tug, pull and yank.

This "riding the curb" style seems pretty new, judging by older videos and even paintings. By the time the horse got to the curb or double bridle, he was so light in the hand that bit "contact" was whisper soft and most of the communication was via seat & leg.

So "loop in reins" does not = 0 contact.

I find it interesting that the goal of most so-called "cowboy" riders is to make the horse soft and "light in the bridle", but not so much in dressage. Seems to me it should be the same at least.

Hmmmm, I have to disagree.

Dressage is not about yank and pull. Anyone who thinks that is not a dressage rider or trainer, and probably contributes the greatest to their horse's dislike of the sport.

Old style European warmbloods were not particularly light on their feet, light off the seat, or light in the hands. I disagree that they used to be "feather light" in the double but now are not.

Most cowboys ride with shanks (work on the poll) and curbs (work on the palate). The lever actions of these bits cause submission, not "soft and light" rides. You can't keep direct contact with these bits without causing a fight or training a Western-style rollkur" horse. Snaffle bits found in dressage are much softer than many western bits.

luchiamae
Jun. 15, 2011, 06:32 AM
How do you stop a bolt on a loose rein? Um, not to be captain obvious here, but you just pick up the reins If you're worried about a bolt while working a horse bridleless, you and the horse probably are not ready for liberty work yet (eta: barring exceptions of course). By the time you work a horse bridleless, you have (hopefully!) developed a great deal of mental and emotional collection in the horse - that's why I love dressage

I think you misunderstood me, I said how do you stop a bolting horse with your seat only... not how do you stop a bolting horse.

Reins are necessary, in my opinion.

naturalequus
Jun. 15, 2011, 09:06 AM
You did ask how you can stop a bolting horse with your seat - my point was just that since the OP's query was not if it can all be done bridleless, but if it can all be done on a looped rein, that we are assuming we have reins, albeit with a drape to them. Thus, you can simply pick up your reins, no need to try to stop the bolt with your seat ;) As others have noted though, your seat can certainly have an effect and even halt a bolt though, too. The bridleless stuff sort of snuck into the topic too, but was not the original topic nor is it to be confused with riding on a looped rein.

millerra
Jun. 15, 2011, 09:19 AM
Just a point -

In the 3rd level tests, there is a canter circle in which the rider is to give one rein or both. The horse is supposed to maintain the self carriage w/ no change of balance, rhythm, etc. It is to test self-carriage. The rider holds the balance w/ her core. At the end of the circle, the rider is to pick up the contact and continue the test. Why is the contact needed - very simply - to have the best connection and communication possible. I've only ridden up through 3rd - so an expert I am certainly NOT - but Gloria (I think) IMHO opinion had it perfectly right - it is for continuous communication. I certainly struggle w/ the rapid fire nature of the mid-level tests - very very different from training/first or even second. And maintaining the balance, self carriage and soft, elastic connection w/ the bit is the goal but it is not easy. And that's just lowly 3rd. 4th and higher- everything becomes even more intense... Certainly, the upper levels, well done - are not crank and spank. Having a horse "hard" into the bridle/aids would not make for a fluid, elastic test (again, IMHO).

Kyzteke
Jun. 15, 2011, 09:22 AM
Hmmmm, I have to disagree.

Dressage is not about yank and pull. Anyone who thinks that is not a dressage rider or trainer, and probably contributes the greatest to their horse's dislike of the sport.

Old style European warmbloods were not particularly light on their feet, light off the seat, or light in the hands. I disagree that they used to be "feather light" in the double but now are not.

Most cowboys ride with shanks (work on the poll) and curbs (work on the palate). The lever actions of these bits cause submission, not "soft and light" rides. You can't keep direct contact with these bits without causing a fight or training a Western-style rollkur" horse. Snaffle bits found in dressage are much softer than many western bits.

First, keep in mind "dressage", ie the Art of Riding predates both WBs and what you are talking about as a sport. Most of the horses used in baroque-age dressage were hotter and lighter than WBs.

Also, your statement about what cowboys use in terms of bits shows you are not famililar with the vacquero or Californio school of riding, where the horse is started in a snaffle (just like every reining horse, for that matter), and in the course of the next 5-8 years, work their way up to a spade bit. As others have noted, by that time, the horse is so well trained to seat & leg, very little actual bit action is needed. Therefore the riders can ride one-handed and there will be a loop in the rein almost constantly.

The goal is to instill lightness in collection in the horse and the rider that is harsh on a horse's mouth is looked at with distain. It is a very different picture than the one we see in modern dressage, where upper level riders are constantly urging the horse forward while engaging the curb of the double bridle. To me, any time you are pull a horse's lips back, that is too much pressure. But modern dressage judges apparently feel differently...

The actual fact is there is NOT one way of correctly doing dressage, just like there is not one way to dance or paint. "Dressage" is an art form and there are a number of different "schools." From my study, it seems it really boils down to what sort of relationship the person wants to have with their horse and what sort of "picture" the rider wants to paint while riding.

While what most people on this board are familiar with is what they see in the ring today, it's hardly the only way to train a horse to perform these movements.

In fact it is just the latest "fad" in terms of frame, movement, etc. With the Art of Horsemanship going back 1000's of years, it has transformed itself over and over.

However, the original point is that "dressage" CAN be done on a looser rein than what we see currently in the show ring, and it can be done correctly. You can have "contact" with a horse and still have a loop in the rein.

And you can prove this to yourself -- simply take a bit and hold it lightly in your palm with your fingers slightly curled. Have a friend lift up both reins. I guarantee you will feel the motion LONG before the reins get tight...if we can feel this with our palms, surely horses can feel it with the bars of their mouths....

naturalequus
Jun. 15, 2011, 09:35 AM
Hi MVP.

The only dressage horse I've every ridden with "decorative" hands was a horse who had no contact with the reins and was incorrectly trained. He "held" himself, didn't use his back or neck at all, and was stuck in a fixed frame. That's not dressage. That's the kind of horse someone takes to a show and then complains about the low score they got (this horse actually was shown and his owner complained greatly about his low scores but he was never connected).

A horse may be taught to hold a false frame and in such a way you could remove the aids, or the reins specifically (in such a manner as you described above), but a horse can also be working correctly back to front, and maintain that with ultimate lightness and, ultimately, a 'decorative hand' and a droop to the rein. Kyzteke posted a wonderful example of such, even.


To me, well-trained dressage horses are horses who accept the hand aids, seat and leg aids, too.

Of course, however that does not mean one cannot create ultimate lightness that results in subtlety. Acceptance and seeking of contact is part of the training scale and as such is crucial, yet this may still be present, alongside subtlety and highly refined communication (to the point of using the reins minimally or not at all).


Reins (with an educated seat) control jaw and poll flexion, help control the neck and shoulders - your seat and legs alone do not control poll flexion or the shoulders.

The seat and legs can certainly control the shoulders. No 'control' is necessary of the jaw and poll flexion - the jaw will relax and be soft as a result of the horse's progression up the training scale and the poll will flex and fall into place as a result of where the rest of the body is at.


Yes, some of the western bits have loose reins but they also have significant, sometimes severe, curb action pressing on the roof of the mouth making the horse look "collected" or "on the bit" with loopy reins when it actually is not using it's back at all. Many people confuse this look with "collected", when it isn't collection at all.

Yikes!! I have to say, you have a very deluded understanding of the purpose of the curb bit, imo!! When used correctly, it is a tool that allows for even more subtle communication - when that point is achieved by horse and rider (in a snaffle first). It does not initiate subtle communication, but allows for the progression of subtle communication. Meaning, one can train a horse to be soft, light, responsive, and develop subtle communication with that horse in a snaffle. Then you graduate to a curb, which allows for even further refined communication. It's a whole other level of communication and subtlety. Eventually you could (if you had the expertise) then graduate to a spade, which is only possible with the most intimate and subtle of communication. Not to create the illusion of collection (which is false if done in such a manner), but for refined communication. At that point, the horse has developed a high level of collection, which includes its poll hanging in such a position that the spade will not interact with the palate.

With a snaffle, I have more room to move my hand. I can open and close my hand, for example, use an opening rein, or what. I can even pick up contact and make contact with the mouth. In a curb, to communicate the very same objections, I need only wiggle my fingers and maybe raise or shift a hand periodically. In a spade, your hands would only be moving in infinitesimal degrees - imperceptibly so. These bits are used with a progressively higher degree of communication, as a result of that higher degree of communication. Each bit develops its potential level of communication, then you use the next bit for the next level, and so forth. This is all 'besides' collection and, when done correctly, is used as the horse progressively develops (correct) collection.

The confusion of correct and false collection and using bits to attain a false frame - occurs across the board, regardless of the discipline. That is not the purpose of these bits in (correct) western riding though.



I *have* ridden reining horses! VERY fun! I mean, a blast! Loopy reins, too! But none of them were prepared to do second or third level work, much less upper level work.

Second or third level work would come with a simple progression of what is already currently developed.


Old style European warmbloods were not particularly light on their feet, light off the seat, or light in the hands. I disagree that they used to be "feather light" in the double but now are not.

:eek: Lightness is a trait developed in the horse. The rider's job is always to mitigate, or 'balance', a horse's traits, ie, to create a light horse of a heavy one or to create a relaxed, steady horse of a hypersensitive one.

Dressage horses today (as a whole) certainly are not feather light in the double - this is evident when the curb is often almost horizontal to the ground.


Most cowboys ride with shanks (work on the poll) and curbs (work on the palate). The lever actions of these bits cause submission, not "soft and light" rides. You can't keep direct contact with these bits without causing a fight or training a Western-style rollkur" horse. Snaffle bits found in dressage are much softer than many western bits.

SO SO SO SO wrong, I cannot express enough how incorrect this statement is!!!!!!! :no: The lever action of the curb IS NOT FOR SUBMISSION and allows for more subtle communication once the horse has attained that level in its training - thus they are used on an already light and soft horse and aid the rider in creating an even lighter and softer horse. Any other use of the curb bit (which is rampant, same as anywhere in any discipline) is INCORRECT. They are not MEANT to be used on 'direct contact'. The contact is there, but there is a drape of rein in between.

Eta: Kyzteke and millerra, you must have been writing your posts at the same time as I ;) Didn't mean to parrot some of what Kyzteke said, although she brought up some great alternative points I did not anyway.

lewin
Jun. 15, 2011, 01:39 PM
I have yet to see good dressage, and I mean a whole test done with a loop in the reins not just a couple steps or a moment in time, done with a loop. Now I have seen horses in a false-frame (High arched neck with no suspension and hocks trailing) that think they are doing dressage.

I think it is a nice idea.

SpotznStripes
Jun. 15, 2011, 04:24 PM
Timely topic - I've recently become a follower of "cowboy dressage" for this exact reason, I don't believe there's a need for more than a light (directing) contact even to achieve upper level movements. I'm much more impressed by this: http://www.youtube.com/user/CowboyDressage#p/u/3/4fFMNDYvRGg
then the misery I see in the modern dressage ring...looks like so much more fun for both horse and rider. Can anybody fault these two - open to your opionions? I do think it helps to have a balanced horse, however, there are a lot of ways to achieve self carriage using your seat and minimal hand...transitions anyone?

dragonharte8
Jun. 15, 2011, 04:51 PM
What little of extended trot he did was impressive...........oh yes and poll high head in front of the vertical.................

cuatx55
Jun. 15, 2011, 04:56 PM
Long reins can be just as harsh and "short" reins ---often worse. they snap and pop in an inconsistent manner.

horsefaerie
Jun. 15, 2011, 08:07 PM
I have to laugh. Years back I talked some reining folk into dropping by the show ring.

THEY thought dressage riders were abusive with the use of their hands!

Perspective folks, perspective.

Kyzteke
Jun. 16, 2011, 05:56 AM
Timely topic - I've recently become a follower of "cowboy dressage" for this exact reason, I don't believe there's a need for more than a light (directing) contact even to achieve upper level movements. I'm much more impressed by this: http://www.youtube.com/user/CowboyDressage#p/u/3/4fFMNDYvRGg
then the misery I see in the modern dressage ring...looks like so much more fun for both horse and rider. Can anybody fault these two - open to your opionions? I do think it helps to have a balanced horse, however, there are a lot of ways to achieve self carriage using your seat and minimal hand...transitions anyone?

You don't have to go "cowboy" to learn a different way to do dressage. As Vineyridge noted, there are different schools.

Difficult to find these days, but if you can find teachers for the French or Portoguese schools, you will see a different type of "contact".

Again, what is being shown as "cowboy" dressage is just what would be expected of a fully trained bridle horse trained in the Californio tradition.

You would expect the movements to be done at a faster pace, because the inspiration (if you will) of the movements stem from what is needed to work/handle cattle.

The bottom line is that the horse is just an athletic, generous creature that he can successfully do so many things -- all of the "right."

The original idea behind dressage was to teach the horse to move in light collection, where they can perform in the optimum manner....but there were practical uses. Today's modern dressage (and reining for that matter) is very stylized and the movements/riding are no good for any real practical application.

For instance, if you watch a well-trained western horse/rider open a gate you will see collection and lightness used for a PURPOSE. I'd like to see Gal & Toto open a gate....;)

Take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCMm5uoZtXw

It's the trailer for the the new Buck Brannaman documentry "Buck." Personally, I've always thought BB was one of the best western riders out there -- he rides for function, but he is SO quiet, SO balanced and SO light. And he looks good on a horse as well.

There are some scenes of him riding in this clip -- take a look at the very end where he is doing a side pass with his bridle horse....you will not see a better example of this movement in any dressage ring today, yet it's all on a loose rein...

cnm161
Jun. 16, 2011, 09:47 AM
You're not going to see side-passes in the dressage rings to rival the one in the Buck Brannaman clip because it's not a requirement in any of the tests. That's not indicative of a failure of dressage riders in the US (or around the world). It is indicative of the test-writing committees not regarding a side-pass as an important movement.

Dressage as practiced in dressage saddles and snaffles/double bridles focus on maintaining the quality and correctness of the gaits throughout the movements. Within 20 m, a horse may go from a half-pass left to a half-pass right to an extended trot, but the quality of the gait must remain the same no matter what the movement is. What's the point of a line of tempis if the horse does not maintain a true canter throughout? What's the point of performing the piaffe/passage if the rhythm suffers?

I've no bone to pick with western/cowboy/whathaveyou dressage. However, I'm concerned that the vids that I have seen fail to emphasize the quality of gaits within the movements. I realize that for the most part these are exhibition rides, but these are exhibition rides by the top riders in the sport. I'm seeing 4-beat canters as they fly sideways. Is the horse showing good crossing? Yes. But does the horse maintain a correct canter? Not so much. These gentlemen are clearly very accomplished riders. However, the focus seems to be on producing the movements and not maintaining the quality of the gaits.

I realize that there are plenty of vids of dressage riders with lateral walks and 4-beat canters, but they are not held as the paragon of dressage perfection by the dressage world.

As far as the looped-rein debate... can you maintain correct gaits with loops in the reins? Certainly. What does happen is an increased difficulty in instantaneous corrections from the hand. Instead of a direct line of communication, the rider has a continuum of rein between the hand and the bit. A small movement of the hand will result in a change in the bit's effect on the horse, yes. But it's a sliding scale... there will be a small amount of "noise" between the start of the hand's movement until the hand stops moving.

Kyzteke
Jun. 16, 2011, 10:49 AM
Dressage as practiced in dressage saddles and snaffles/double bridles focus on maintaining the quality and correctness of the gaits throughout the movements. Within 20 m, a horse may go from a half-pass left to a half-pass right to an extended trot, but the quality of the gait must remain the same no matter what the movement is. What's the point of a line of tempis if the horse does not maintain a true canter throughout? What's the point of performing the piaffe/passage if the rhythm suffers?

Well, this is what the judges/teachers tell you, but in truth you really DO see some very impure gaits, even in the upper levels.

This is not my opinion, but spirited discussions have sprung up many times on this board over the purity of the gaits in some of the top dressage horses winning today.

The biggest difference, I still maintain, is where the rider/sport puts the emphasis in terms of what they want from the horse.

Now, in modern dressage, you are correct when you say the emphasis is placed very much on correctness and precision. You say "what is the point of a line of tempi changes if the gait doesn't stay pure?"

Well, other might say (and I would be among them) "What is the point of precision if Lightness and Harmony is cast aside?"

There are exceptions, but I see very little harmony & almost NO lightness in the ring today. I see push, push,push and they never let go of the horse's head!!! AT ALL!! They are on that curb constantly!

Any beauty that the comes from seeing pure gaits is lost in the almost total lack of lightness.

"Dressage" the sport has not always been like this; it has evolved into it's current form. This "style" is no more "correct" than the tests of old which required the Spanish walk. Now that movement is considered a circus move.

Is one right and the other wrong? No -- just a change in style. The style of riding and the tests you see now have always been fluid and have changed much in the last 100 yrs.

The point is, over the centuries there is plenty of evidence that ALL of the movements currently taught & practiced in modern dressage CAN be done on a looped rein.

In short: you do not need the severe pressure so commonly seen today to produce those movements.

Obviously, this sort of "style" is no longer the goal of modern competitive dressage riders, as we see. But many riders value lightness, expression and harmony FAR more than robot-like precision, and want their horses to go a different way.

If a cowboy tried to actually do a job on a modern dressage horse, it would be impossible, because that horse has no idea what to do with his head unless there is serious pressure on that bit.

If a dressage rider tried to do a test on a well-trained bridle horse, they would probably feel like they were careening down a steep hill on roller skates!

But none of this negates the fact the movements are the same....;)

mp
Jun. 16, 2011, 11:30 AM
Can anybody fault these two - open to your opionions? I do think it helps to have a balanced horse, however, there are a lot of ways to achieve self carriage using your seat and minimal hand...transitions anyone?

Fault based on what? This is an exhibition ride, with no movements specified or judging standards other than the ones any viewer wants to apply. Is the rider skilled? Yes. Is he perfect? No. In some of his transitions, his cues are quite gross (meaning large and loud) and the horse reacts to them in a gross manner. I would assume that's because of what is posted below re: the corrections with contact vs. a looped rein.


You're not going to see side-passes in the dressage rings to rival the one in the Buck Brannaman clip because it's not a requirement in any of the tests. That's not indicative of a failure of dressage riders in the US (or around the world). It is indicative of the test-writing committees not regarding a side-pass as an important movement.

Dressage as practiced in dressage saddles and snaffles/double bridles focus on maintaining the quality and correctness of the gaits throughout the movements. Within 20 m, a horse may go from a half-pass left to a half-pass right to an extended trot, but the quality of the gait must remain the same no matter what the movement is. What's the point of a line of tempis if the horse does not maintain a true canter throughout? What's the point of performing the piaffe/passage if the rhythm suffers?

I've no bone to pick with western/cowboy/whathaveyou dressage. However, I'm concerned that the vids that I have seen fail to emphasize the quality of gaits within the movements. I realize that for the most part these are exhibition rides, but these are exhibition rides by the top riders in the sport. I'm seeing 4-beat canters as they fly sideways. Is the horse showing good crossing? Yes. But does the horse maintain a correct canter? Not so much. These gentlemen are clearly very accomplished riders. However, the focus seems to be on producing the movements and not maintaining the quality of the gaits.

I realize that there are plenty of vids of dressage riders with lateral walks and 4-beat canters, but they are not held as the paragon of dressage perfection by the dressage world.

As far as the looped-rein debate... can you maintain correct gaits with loops in the reins? Certainly. What does happen is an increased difficulty in instantaneous corrections from the hand. Instead of a direct line of communication, the rider has a continuum of rein between the hand and the bit. A small movement of the hand will result in a change in the bit's effect on the horse, yes. But it's a sliding scale... there will be a small amount of "noise" between the start of the hand's movement until the hand stops moving.

Well put. All of it.

Donella
Jun. 16, 2011, 12:01 PM
Contact is part of the training scale of dressage. It serves a function. If you want to ride a horse without contact then you should find another sport.

The hand supports the seat in the developement/training of the horse. A super good, very well trained horse that has learned to go primarily off the seat could be ridden without a bit for example (ala Ute Graf with her bitless bridle demo..note contact is still maintained), but there is no way anyone would ever be able to get the horse to that point without a bit and connection with it.

As for the cowboy "dressage" videos....they are fine and dandy, but they are very far from what I (or the FEI for that matter) would consider good dressage work.

7HL
Jun. 16, 2011, 12:44 PM
Contact is part of the training scale of dressage. It serves a function. If you want to ride a horse without contact then you should find another sport.




So looped rein serves no purpose? Guess it's settled, there is no place for looped rein. Adios..... You're not wanted here.

Lost_at_C
Jun. 16, 2011, 12:44 PM
Yes, thank you cnm161, Donella and mp. The videos posted of BB and the cowboy dressage are fine as they go... but they are in no way dressage IMO because first and foremost there is no apparent interest in purity of gaits, never mind a positive, fluid, following contact. Yes, many dressage horses will display impure gaits and this should be penalized more heavily, but the fact remains that a central tenet of Dressage is to maintain/improve the purity of the gaits - that's not a detectable aim in the videos posted, or in much of the commentary offered on them here.

I think those who are seeing happy harmonic horses in Cowboy Dressage and misery in the FEI ring might want to educate their eye a bit more - or if that's not the problem then take a chill pill and tone down the polarizing rhetoric. I'm not saying you don't ever see a happy reiner or CD horse, or an unhappy dressage horse, but statements like that are such a gross oversimplification it is frankly offensive to both disciplines. Oh and I do have associations with some cowboy dressage people so please don't assume my position stems from pro-dressage bias.

The question is, can dressage be done on a loose rein? As Donella hinted at, that cannot even begin to be addressed with reference to cowboy dressage or western riding where contact isn't an objective. There's a reason for contact (albeit of varying degrees) and it has nothing to do with any so-called "crank and spank". A couple of earlier posts tried to suggest that we only have a choice between two extremes - "crank-and-spank" or "baroque", and in one the term "classical/baroque" was used as if they're one and the same thing!... if it's really come to this please shoot me now and turn my horses out to get fat in a field somewhere. :eek:

Kyzteke
Jun. 16, 2011, 01:24 PM
Contact is part of the training scale of dressage. It serves a function. If you want to ride a horse without contact then you should find another sport.


Again -- you are missing the point of the whole thread!!

There can be and generally IS contact, even with a loop in the rein.

Are you saying Nuno Olivero did not ride dressage?

naturalequus
Jun. 16, 2011, 02:41 PM
Obviously, this sort of "style" is no longer the goal of modern competitive dressage riders, as we see. But many riders value lightness, expression and harmony FAR more than robot-like precision, and want their horses to go a different way.

And with this lightness, expression and harmony in place, precision may also be developed and will in fact be more inclined to occur naturally as a result of that lightness, expression, and harmony.



As far as the looped-rein debate... can you maintain correct gaits with loops in the reins? Certainly. What does happen is an increased difficulty in instantaneous corrections from the hand. Instead of a direct line of communication, the rider has a continuum of rein between the hand and the bit. A small movement of the hand will result in a change in the bit's effect on the horse, yes. But it's a sliding scale... there will be a small amount of "noise" between the start of the hand's movement until the hand stops moving.

Hence the benefit of weighted reins and curb bits that decrease the 'noise' and increase the potential for subtlety. Same reason some of us use weighted lines working with horses on the ground or what.

naturalequus
Jun. 16, 2011, 02:51 PM
Contact is part of the training scale of dressage. It serves a function. If you want to ride a horse without contact then you should find another sport.

Of course - contact is still maintained even on a loose rein :) This is different than just meandering about 'on the buckle' though.


The hand supports the seat in the developement/training of the horse. A super good, very well trained horse that has learned to go primarily off the seat could be ridden without a bit for example (ala Ute Graf with her bitless bridle demo..note contact is still maintained), but there is no way anyone would ever be able to get the horse to that point without a bit and connection with it.

Agreed, though imo it can probably be taught without a bit (ie, bitless), though with a connection. Difference in opinion though *shrug* :)


As for the cowboy "dressage" videos....they are fine and dandy, but they are very far from what I (or the FEI for that matter) would consider good dressage work.

I think though the point is that the horse is soft, light, relaxed, and 'on contact' despite a loose rein and thus it would only be a matter of refinement to develop the correct movement.


I think the point(s) brought up earlier pertaining to the history of dressage and working horses 'on contact' - correctly (ie, correct dressage movements) - were insightful though, as they brought a valid point to the table. It's a matter of 'styles' and different manners of going about the same thing. Obviously either are possible and correct.

lewin
Jun. 17, 2011, 01:27 AM
That cowboy dressage horse was not soft, light, or relaxed. Good lord! Huge curb bit and there were several times where the riders hands were at the level of his face. Big hand movements in a curb that is longer-shanked (and probably even higher ported) than any bit that is legal for dressage combined with quick, jerky git-er-done movements is not being kinder to the horse.

And still no one has found a video of good dressage done with a loop in the reins...wonder why?

naturalequus
Jun. 17, 2011, 09:07 AM
So you're suggesting that since no one has provided a video of good dressage done with a loop in the reins, that it is not possible?

To each their own I guess, haha! ;)

Your mention of the curb bit and potential port though leaves me under the impression you don't fully understand how the curb bit works and why it is used (correctly).

Imo the cowboy dressage horse was not perfect, but it was a decent demo nonetheless. Not my pick, I've seen better, but sorry, I haven't got video and don't have the time to sift through youtube videos for you ;)

Bats79
Jun. 17, 2011, 10:48 AM
One of Nuno O's greatest shows was to ride his stallion in "Grand Prix" movements with only a silk ribbon in its mouth. Now if we go with Nuno being an aficionado of Baucher's second method then we know (and I know from experience) that his horses were trained to release the jaw to the hand.

If you were to ride the stallion with the silk ribbon and a loop in the rein then the ribbon would be dropped. It required a contact. The contact is released by the fingers, decent de main is a matter of an inch not a foot - unless you were really trying to show something in piaffe. In the majority of lessons I had with Nuno on school horses or my own the "release" was a give not a throwaway.

The majority of classical (ODGs) did not recommend work with looped reins but rather the balance in the horse that would allow the rein to be looped for a moment to prove / test self carriage.

The only time I have seen Phillipe Karl allow a horse to go more than a few strides with loops in the reins was as a reward for going forward - in the case of the horse that is not in front of the leg it is more important to reward the GO than train the contact. Otherwise the hand needs to be in contact with the mouth so any tightness in the jaw can be immediately addressed. If the rein is looped then firstly the contact has to be taken back up before the resistance can be addressed.

So neither trainer expected a horse to be able to stay in self carriage for an extended period of time without some assistance from the rider because that expectation could lead to the horse developing tension purely from the effort of seeking guidance.

A spade bit which rests vertically against the tongue does allow for guidance from a much lighter contact (looped reins) but it should be remembered that those reins usually have a weight of their own - in many cases they are weighted - so the contact is stronger than it appears due to the feel against the horses tongue. But we don't do dressage in spades so that doesn't really apply.

Apologies naturalequus I didn't read your posts already mentioning weighted reins. Possibly a dressage test could be ridden on a looped rein in a spade bit but not many people are willing to put that much training into a horse for such an esoteric outcome. But Bent Branderrup and that guy in Germany who does the Pluvinel type movements would possibly be almost there.

CFFarm
Jun. 17, 2011, 10:55 AM
For those who think Nuno O rode every horse with no rein contact. As for every rider, it depends on the level of training and connection with the horse. JMHO



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfiTTyi2He8v=MAGfqnSWeYw&feature=related


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

CFFarm
Jun. 17, 2011, 11:07 AM
One of Nuno O's greatest shows was to ride his stallion in "Grand Prix" movements with only a silk ribbon in its mouth. Now if we go with Nuno being an aficionado of Baucher's second method then we know (and I know from experience) that his horses were trained to release the jaw to the hand.

If you were to ride the stallion with the silk ribbon and a loop in the rein then the ribbon would be dropped. It required a contact. The contact is released by the fingers, decent de main is a matter of an inch not a foot - unless you were really trying to show something in piaffe. In the majority of lessons I had with Nuno on school horses or my own the "release" was a give not a throwaway.

The majority of classical (ODGs) did not recommend work with looped reins but rather the balance in the horse that would allow the rein to be looped for a moment to prove / test self carriage.

The only time I have seen Phillipe Karl allow a horse to go more than a few strides with loops in the reins was as a reward for going forward - in the case of the horse that is not in front of the leg it is more important to reward the GO than train the contact. Otherwise the hand needs to be in contact with the mouth so any tightness in the jaw can be immediately addressed. If the rein is looped then firstly the contact has to be taken back up before the resistance can be addressed.

So neither trainer expected a horse to be able to stay in self carriage for an extended period of time without some assistance from the rider because that expectation could lead to the horse developing tension purely from the effort of seeking guidance.

A spade bit which rests vertically against the tongue does allow for guidance from a much lighter contact (looped reins) but it should be remembered that those reins usually have a weight of their own - in many cases they are weighted - so the contact is stronger than it appears due to the feel against the horses tongue. But we don't do dressage in spades so that doesn't really apply.

Apologies naturalequus I didn't read your posts already mentioning weighted reins. Possibly a dressage test could be ridden on a looped rein in a spade bit but not many people are willing to put that much training into a horse for such an esoteric outcome. But Bent Branderrup and that guy in Germany who does the Pluvinel type movements would possibly be almost there.


Excellent post!

dragonharte8
Jun. 17, 2011, 11:19 AM
So neither trainer expected a horse to be able to stay in self carriage for an extended period of time without some assistance from the rider because that expectation could lead to the horse developing tension purely from the effort of seeking guidance.

Ah, this may be true of these trainers, however, having seen many horse/rider combinations over the years, I would disagree with it. A correctly schooled horse does not need aids from the rider to stay in self carriage, it is the rider that causes the horse to lose self carriage.

naturalequus
Jun. 17, 2011, 11:28 AM
[QUOTE=Bats79;5669219
A spade bit which rests vertically against the tongue does allow for guidance from a much lighter contact (looped reins) but it should be remembered that those reins usually have a weight of their own - in many cases they are weighted - so the contact is stronger than it appears due to the feel against the horses tongue. But we don't do dressage in spades so that doesn't really apply.

Apologies naturalequus I didn't read your posts already mentioning weighted reins. Possibly a dressage test could be ridden on a looped rein in a spade bit but not many people are willing to put that much training into a horse for such an esoteric outcome. But Bent Branderrup and that guy in Germany who does the Pluvinel type movements would possibly be almost there.[/QUOTE]

No apology necessary Bats! Excellent post :)

Kyzteke
Jun. 24, 2011, 02:13 PM
I had seen this ride before, but forgotten it till someones posted it again.

Excellent riding, and if you will notice she often has a "bell" or slight loop in her reins, usually the curb.

Contrast this with so much of what we see in the ring today, where there is NEVER slack in either rein, and the curb is almost constantly engaged.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cE_O9tKnCA

dragonharte8
Jun. 24, 2011, 02:41 PM
In the majority of lessons I had with Nuno on school horses or my own the "release" was a give not a throwaway.

These what is lacking in competitive dressage. FEI Article 401 states that the horse should appear to be doing it [the movement] on its own. How is that possible if the riders do not release?

poltroon
Jun. 24, 2011, 02:53 PM
A looped rein on a curb bridle still creates communication with the horse's mouth, because of the weight of the bit and the reins.

That said, trying to ride an uneducated horse with a curb alone is very challenging, because the nature of curb contact is so different and because it is so easy to overcorrect and make the horse uncomfortable (and thus frightened of the rein). A horse working in harmony with a light steady rein on a snaffle is as comfortable as a horse working on a draped curb rein with an expert rider.

A loop on a snaffle is in some ways less comfortable for the horse, because it can make an eventual rein aid unexpected and more jarring.

The Californios were great horsemen and there is a lot to learn from that tradition. I also am a fan of learning to ride bridleless. It is not something that suits every horse, but it is something every rider can benefit from.

paulaedwina
Jun. 24, 2011, 04:02 PM
When this video was posted http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5895K-Xjupk&feature=feedlik

I immediately thought of this thread. That rider is not riding the horse's mouth. His balance is in his seat and his legs. He did not need his reins. Considering the rules of how the horse must be ridden in this competition (one hand on reins, position of hands, etc) I guess it answers the question; why not do it all on a looped rein? Why not? Maybe it requires an exquisite amount of skill, balance, and partnership?

Just speculating.
My 2 cents.
Paula

cnm161
Jun. 24, 2011, 05:25 PM
In that vid (paulaedwina's post), the horse cross-canters a lot. A LOT. That's not dressage either. And though the rider doesn't have a death-grip on the horse's face, those aren't loose/looped reins. If anything, it's a pro-contact argument.

Sandy M
Jun. 24, 2011, 06:17 PM
Have any of the spade bit folks here read the late John Richard Young's "Calling a Spade A Spade?" It was originally published about 50 years ago in The Western Horseman, but is also included in his book "The Schooling of the Horse" (originally "The Schooling of the Western Horse.") I recommend it, if you REALLY think a spade bit is an acceptable bit. (Granted, there are people highly skilled with it - but read the article and Mr. Young's response to that argument.)

As a result of fuss the article raised, it was not long thereafter that AHSA rules, which at the time REQUIRED a spade bit in reining classes, were modified so that half-breed and other bits could be used.

paulaedwina
Jun. 24, 2011, 06:47 PM
In that vid (paulaedwina's post), the horse cross-canters a lot. A LOT. That's not dressage either. And though the rider doesn't have a death-grip on the horse's face, those aren't loose/looped reins. If anything, it's a pro-contact argument.

In my opinion the video I posted is very much dressage. I think his balance, his connection with the horse, the horse's balance, the rider's use of balance, leg, and seat, and the gymnastic ability and pattern of muscling and strength of the horse makes it dressage indeed. His performance was dressage in context. That horse had to turn on the haunches, collect, extend, back, and side pass (half pass is in the direction of the bend). He was incredibly responsive and there was very little contact on the horse's mouth.

How is what he did not dressage when you can define dressage as;
"The idea is to gradually enable the horse to carry more of his own and his rider's weight over his hindquarters than over his forehand. This mobilizing and strengthening of the hindquarters (which provide the motive power as if the horse had rear wheel drive) results in lightening of the forehand and a horse that is much easier to steer and to stop. It is a matter of physics; the horse's immense strength becomes more available to him as he uses himself more efficiently. Because of the obedience required in the exercises, this strength is also instantly available to the rider. ...These tests reflect the movements used in schooling and so, assess the horse's correct progress towards the goals of suppleness, balance and obedience. " (Dressage - a definition http://www.igs.net/~vkirkwoodhp/dressage.htm).

Are we really saying that unless you're doing it in a top hat and coat tails in an empty sand arena it isn't dressage?

Paula

cnm161
Jun. 24, 2011, 07:00 PM
Top hat and tails not required. Purity of the gaits, however, is a handy thing... and is a prerequisite to performing all those fancy movements you mentioned. I agree it's a masterful display of riding. The horse is very obedient and clearly the rider knows what he's doing. But there are many moments (especially in the sharp turns) that the horse cross-fires and loses the purity of the canter. If that happened under a shadbelly-clad rider, I think the reception would have been very different.

Now, it's very possible that you and I have different definitions of dressage-- and that's fine.

paulaedwina
Jun. 24, 2011, 07:19 PM
I see what you're saying; but I guess cross firing and lacking purity of canter doesn't change for me the criteria I use here for calling it dressage (see my definition above). I mean, if that were the case then most of us aren't doing dressage until we're in PSG or I1?

See what I mean? I guess I look at his manner of riding, his use of aids, the horse's balance and impulsion, etc., and call it dressage.


Paula

poltroon
Jun. 24, 2011, 07:57 PM
I see what you're saying; but I guess cross firing and lacking purity of canter doesn't change for me the criteria I use here for calling it dressage (see my definition above). I mean, if that were the case then most of us aren't doing dressage until we're in PSG or I1?

See what I mean? I guess I look at his manner of riding, his use of aids, the horse's balance and impulsion, etc., and call it dressage.


Paula

A cross canter is an extremely serious fault in dressage. You literally cannot have any quality of the canter if the feet are not in the proper sequence. Even at training level, a pure three beat canter in the proper sequence is required.

paulaedwina
Jun. 24, 2011, 08:02 PM
I understand that, but that is not my criteria for calling it dressage. A good canter is not in the definition I used to assert that the performance was dressage.

Paula

cnm161
Jun. 24, 2011, 10:57 PM
Dressage is already a fairly well-defined endeavor. The movements rise from the well-defined gaits. As I said earlier, what's the point of a canter halfpass if the canter is depleted? The goal of this entire sport is to improve on and enhance the horse's natural way of going. So a halfpass won't score well even if the horse shows great crossing and keeps the bend and goes from letter to letter if the horse cross-fires or otherwise breaks gait.

Even simpler, what's the point of a 20-m circle if the horse scrambles at the canter and loses the canter rhythm? The exercise is no longer useful as the underlying gait has been lost. A horse does not have to be in a GP frame to achieve 3 correct gaits-- maintaining and progressing the 3 correct gaits is what allows a horse to get to GP.

On the other hand, it's very possible to have a well trained horse that's not a dressage horse (and of course the opposite is true). It's also very possible to have a great rider who is not a dressage rider. The fact that the horse/rider does not live up to dressage standards doesn't take away from their performance, since that was clearly not their goal.

paulaedwina
Jun. 24, 2011, 11:07 PM
We definitely look at things from different perspectives. Where you find it important that the moves are correct, I see dressage as learning tools that are well served to be shown in context. The horse was well balanced, using his hind end, the rider was well balanced, using seat, leg and position, and they were working together to show their athleticism. This may be a forest/trees thing. I see dressage with a big picture outcome. So I definitely see dressage in what that fellow was doing and admire it a great deal.

I guess it's like learning martial arts. The kata in karate are precise and demanding. In competition you are scored on how correct your kata are. However, the kata are designed to teach you how to fight. So MMA -mixed martial arts competition - can be great expressions of your martial arts skills. Surely in the fight you aren't going to be judged on your horse stance, and you aren't going to telegraph your moves as you do in kata. It is still martial arts however, because your ability to fight developed from those kata.

So I see this video in the same way.


Paula

cnm161
Jun. 24, 2011, 11:47 PM
I find it important that the moves are correct... because I ride dressage and this is a thread on looped rein dressage. What the video portrayed was a speed competition where accuracy of the figures was less important that successfully getting around the course the fastest. Though the horse and rider most certainly used dressage principles (straightness, throughness, etc.) in training for this event, the end result is not dressage. It's a type of race. The goal is entirely different. Once again, this isn't meant to denigrate that pair.

Another video put up was that of Balanger. Though the curb rein was less than taut, there was still plenty of direct contact on the snaffle. That's not a looped rein. What that shows is that the horse/rider is not overly reliant on the curb.

paulaedwina
Jun. 24, 2011, 11:56 PM
I appreciate your position. I do not agree with it, but I do respect it. I do also ride dressage, but I have a different point of view. I am participating in this discussion because of my interest in dressage. I guess we just have different points of view on the same topic.

Paula

poltroon
Jun. 25, 2011, 01:57 AM
There is plenty of great riding that isn't dressage. I feel like your insistence on using "dressage" for this is because it is hard for you to value riding that you can't label that way.

Let go of it. You can call it great riding if you want; you can call it great riding that informs your ideas of what might be possible in dressage. You can call it great riding that has qualities you admire.

There is great, empathetic riding in every discipline that is absolutely by no means dressage. Embrace and learn from other disciplines.

But, a cross-firing canter is an indication of a significant lack of balance at some point in the performance (or possibly soundness) and is a severe fault in dressage. It is not something a dressage rider would choose to emulate or tolerate during flatwork. It is not something you go back and fix "later." The purity of the gait is fundamental to dressage, before even engagement or balance or straightness.

I can admire a cross-country or jumping round that includes a stray cross canter as great riding on a great horse - but I won't label it dressage.

dragonharte8
Jun. 25, 2011, 02:05 AM
According to a close friend from Spain, these horses are schooled in dressage movements. So the horse made mistakes.....Totilas clearly put forth a 4 beat trot.

poltroon
Jun. 25, 2011, 02:16 AM
BTW - while I love the video and think the horse and rider are an amazing pair showing brilliant horsemanship - IMHO that horse and rider are constantly communicating via the reins and I only occasionally saw any loop in the reins. Yes, he rode a great deal of it with one hand, but that horse was clearly relying on the reins for guidance in both speed and direction.

paulaedwina
Jun. 25, 2011, 07:37 AM
There is plenty of great riding that isn't dressage. I feel like your insistence on using "dressage" for this is because it is hard for you to value riding that you can't label that way.

Your assumption is not correct. I gave my criteria for calling this dressage in an earlier post. It meets my criteria.

Let go of it.

I think not. I will continue to call it dressage. I see dressage in it.


There is great, empathetic riding in every discipline that is absolutely by no means dressage. Embrace and learn from other disciplines.

Thank you for the kind invitation, but I will continue to see dressage in that video.

But, a cross-firing canter is an indication of a significant lack of balance at some point in the performance (or possibly soundness) and is a severe fault in dressage. It is not something a dressage rider would choose to emulate or tolerate during flatwork. It is not something you go back and fix "later." The purity of the gait is fundamental to dressage, before even engagement or balance or straightness.

Interestingly I've already sent the video to my trainers accompanied by words of admiration, ambition, and envy. I've also bookmarked the Working Equitation USA website http://www.workingequitationusa.com/ where the rules of WE and categories are listed. Imagine my pleasure in seeing that indeed the categories are: Dressage, Ease of Handling, and Speed.

I can admire a cross-country or jumping round that includes a stray cross canter as great riding on a great horse - but I won't label it dressage.

As you wish of course.

RE Dragonhart8's post, "According to a close friend from Spain, these horses are schooled in dressage movements. So the horse made mistakes.....Totilas clearly put forth a 4 beat trot."

I am not at all surprised. I see dressage in horse and rider in that video and continue to be impressed by them.

RE: Poltroon, "BTW - while I love the video and think the horse and rider are an amazing pair showing brilliant horsemanship - IMHO that horse and rider are constantly communicating via the reins and I only occasionally saw any loop in the reins. Yes, he rode a great deal of it with one hand, but that horse was clearly relying on the reins for guidance in both speed and direction."

Really, you thought so? I thought he used his his legs and seat alot, much more than his reins. In particular I saw this as he bent around the weave poles and barrels, and side passed on the pole.

Paula

CFFarm
Jun. 25, 2011, 10:00 AM
Dressage with a small "d"- training

Dressage with a big "D" - Following FEI rules

That's how I look at it. But that's jmho (with small j, small m, small h, ......etc.):winkgrin:

paulaedwina
Jun. 25, 2011, 10:05 AM
:lol: We'll have to agree to disagree right? For me kata are martial arts, and MMA is martial arts. You get judged for your kata in "forms" competition, and you get judged on your ability to fight in MMA. To me they are both martial arts -upper case or lower case m notwithstanding.


Paula

alicen
Jun. 25, 2011, 10:49 AM
"The horse seeks contact with the bit" - a common enough cliche dressage expression which, on closer examination, waxes oxymoronical. Upon completion of bridling, the horse's mouth is in contact with the bit for the duration of the ride unless, in the course of being pitched over the horse's head, the rider pulls the bridle off. Saying the horse seeks contact with the bit is as silly as saying a foot seeks contact with the sole of the boot. So when we use this idiom of dressage jargon, what do we really mean to say about the relationship between the horse and the bit?

dragonharte8
Jun. 25, 2011, 12:18 PM
Alicen:
So well stated........

amm2cd
Jun. 25, 2011, 03:37 PM
With CNM161 and Paltoon, and others. That simply wasn't dressage. Or, put another way, it wasn't correct dressage. Big D or little d version.



In my opinion the video I posted is very much dressage. I think his balance, his connection with the horse, the horse's balance, the rider's use of balance, leg, and seat, and the gymnastic ability and pattern of muscling and strength of the horse makes it dressage indeed. His performance was dressage in context. That horse had to turn on the haunches, collect, extend, back, and side pass (half pass is in the direction of the bend). He was incredibly responsive and [B]there was very little contact on the horse's mouth.

I disagree with the section I bolded, as have others. I saw tension (aka contact) every time the rider turned or changed direction and or bend. When the horse was moving at speed on a straightaway, the reins were slack. Yes, the rider had very good leg and seat aids, he also used hand aids (not that its wrong!). We should acknowledge that too.


How is what he did not dressage when you can define dressage as;
"The idea is to gradually enable the horse to carry more of his own and his rider's weight over his hindquarters than over his forehand. This mobilizing and strengthening of the hindquarters (which provide the motive power as if the horse had rear wheel drive) results in lightening of the forehand and a horse that is much easier to steer and to stop. It is a matter of physics; the horse's immense strength becomes more available to him as he uses himself more efficiently. Because of the obedience required in the exercises, this strength is also instantly available to the rider. ...These tests reflect the movements used in schooling and so, assess the horse's correct progress towards the goals of suppleness, balance and obedience. " (Dressage - a definition http://www.igs.net/~vkirkwoodhp/dressage.htm).

Are we really saying that unless you're doing it in a top hat and coat tails in an empty sand arena it isn't dressage?

Paula

I believe that your definition of dressage is incomplete. I wish you were entirely correct, because then My poor older school master who has a lateral walk tendancy would be higher in the ribbons. Unfortunatly, gait impurities such as crossfiring in the canter, lateral walks or canters, four-beat canters, disunited trots, etc, etc are to be improved with dressage (note use of the 'little d', as they are penalized in Dressage)
Now here is Dressage (big D) with no contact:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlE8b07_04U

Is it perfect? No. The loss of contact presents a whole new set of challenges (straightness, excessive/insufficient bend at times, and this horse is suspiciously rein-lame). However this horse and rider are showing correct and pure gaits.
From the FEI definitions, I've bolded the relevant parts, my comments in itallics:


F.E.I. DEFINITIONS OF PACES AND MOVEMENTS

121. OBJECT AND GENERAL PRINCIPLES

a) The object of Dressage is the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse. As a result it makes the horse calm, supple, loose and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with his rider. This agrees with Paula's definition. So far, so good.
b ) These qualities are revealed by:
i) The freedom and regularity of the paces;
ii) The harmony, lightness and ease of the movements
iii) The lightness of the forehand and the engagement of the hind quarters originating in a lively impulsion. Also in agreement with Paula's definition
iv) The acceptance of the bridle, with submissiveness throughout and without any tenseness or resistance.
c) The horse thus gives the impression of doing of his own accord what is required of him. Confident and attentive he submits generously to the control of his rider, remaining absolutely straight in any movement on a straight line and bending accordingly when moving on curved lines.
d) His walk is regular, free and unconstrained. His trot is free, supple, regular, sustained and active. His canter is united, light and cadenced. His quarters are never inactive or sluggish. He responds to the slightest indication of the rider and thereby gives life and spirit to all the rest of his body.
e) By virtue of a lively impulsion and the suppleness of his joints, free from the paralysing effects of resistance, the horse obeys willingly and without hesitation and responds to the various aids calmly and with precision, displaying a natural and harmonious balance both physically and mentally. Here, we see the FEI stresses the natural purity of the gaits.
f) In all his work, even at the halt, the horse must be "on the bit". A horse is said to be "on the bit" when the hocks are correctly placed and the neck is more or less raised and arched according to the stage of training and the extension or collection of the pace, and he accepts the bridle with a light and soft contact and submissiveness throughout. The head should remain in a steady position, as a rule
slightly in front of the vertical, with a supple poll at the highest point of the neck, and no resistance should be offered to the rider.
g) Cadence is shown in trot and is the result of the proper harmony that a horse shows when it moves with well marked regularity, impulsion and balance. Cadence must be maintained in all different trot exercises and in all the variations of trot. The rhythm that a horse maintains in all his paces is fundamental to Dressage.


And for the record, I have neither tophat nor tails when I school my youngsters out in an open 30 acre field. I do, however have a soft contact to encourage my youngsters to learn to carry themselves. You don't teach a child to swim by throwing them into the deep end, you gradualy build up to it. I use the same philosophy with young horses. You give a little, and see if they can maintain self carriage. If not, you continue to lightly support them. And let's face it, a french link snaffle is not ment to be used with no contact...

Oh dear, that got long.:o

amm2cd
Jun. 25, 2011, 03:41 PM
"The horse seeks contact with the bit" - a common enough cliche dressage expression which, on closer examination, waxes oxymoronical. Upon completion of bridling, the horse's mouth is in contact with the bit for the duration of the ride unless, in the course of being pitched over the horse's head, the rider pulls the bridle off. Saying the horse seeks contact with the bit is as silly as saying a foot seeks contact with the sole of the boot. So when we use this idiom of dressage jargon, what do we really mean to say about the relationship between the horse and the bit?

Alicen, When we say a horse "seeks contact with the bit" what I suppose we should say is that the horse "lengthend his neck and gives through his poll as he reaches out to maintain a steady contact with the rider's hand". A horse should learn to do this from the rider's seat and legs.

"Horse seeks contact with the bit" just seems to be a simpler way to put things...

paulaedwina
Jun. 25, 2011, 05:00 PM
It wasn't my definition of dressage. It was the Ottawa Area Dressage Group of Cadora's definition of dressage. Exerpted from "Dressage...The Training Ad, the Sport, the Art" http://www.igs.net/~vkirkwoodhp/dressage.htm

So if you don't think it's complete take it up with them. I'm sticking with my POV that what we saw in that video is very much dressage.

Paula

Lost_at_C
Jun. 25, 2011, 05:41 PM
Paulaedwina, I don't want to offend you but please please look up the FEI aims and objectives of dressage. You will see there is far more to it than any of the "definitions" you've hinted at so far. I honestly do admire your aim to appreciate dressage-like principles within other types of riding, but I don't think you're doing yourself any favors in terms of your long-term development as a dressage rider/trainer/critic. Competetive dressage - or even non-competetive dressage undertaken according to classical documented guidelines - is far more complex and specialised than you seem to recognize.

Also, my apologies but one of my biggest pet peeves is people quoting out of context and using that as a foundation for their argument. I'm a rapidly aging academic so I enjoy combining my geekiness with my earned right to crotchetiness. The page you paraphrased presents a much greater emphasis on poise, balance, prescribed movements and overall correctness than your citation implies. It also draws a clear distinction between the term "dressage" as a kind of general training and the term "dressage" used to refer to a modern competetive endeavor.

I don't have any real problem with this site's description (it's not really inteded as a concrete definition and I highly doubt the Ottawa Dressage judges use it over national or international directives). I do have to wonder about using information from an apparently random website instead of just going with the FEI definition of aims and objectives - at least in the context of a competetive dressage discussion. For anyone really interested in the original question the FEI text is easily accessible online.

paulaedwina
Jun. 25, 2011, 06:03 PM
You don't offend me, but I do consider what that rider did in the video dressage, not dressage-like. I've already expressed by position by using a martial arts analogy. I feel no need to qualify my assertion with lower case d, or a -like suffix.

Paula

poltroon
Jun. 25, 2011, 06:12 PM
You don't offend me, but I do consider what that rider did in the video dressage, not dressage-like. I've already expressed by position by using a martial arts analogy. I feel no need to qualify my assertion with lower case d, or a -like suffix.

Paula

I think a more accurate analogy is that dressage, and what was seen in the video, are both examples of classical horsemanship.

MMA and karate are both martial arts. But to call MMA karate will probably not impress people with your knowledge of martial arts.

dragonharte8
Jun. 25, 2011, 07:50 PM
but one of my biggest pet peeves is people quoting out of context and using that as a foundation for their argument

I like this. FEI Articles 401 through 417 are very specific and the words used clearly make defined descriptions. So, if words mean something, then the description of 'on the bit' contained in the rules provides absolutely no room for any other frame of the head and neck. And then there is the use of the curb as the primary bit of contact....violation.
FEI judges are taking out of context the specificity of the Articles.
Why shouldn't dressage horses be shown with the reins displaying suppleness by their independent vertical movement when riders release the extreme pressures....not looped but supple

supple means: flexible, pliant, avoiding overt resistance

Lost_at_C
Jun. 25, 2011, 08:41 PM
FEI Articles 401 through 417 are very specific and the words used clearly make defined descriptions. So, if words mean something, then the description of 'on the bit' contained in the rules provides absolutely no room for any other frame of the head and neck. And then there is the use of the curb as the primary bit of contact....violation.
FEI judges are taking out of context the specificity of the Articles.
Why shouldn't dressage horses be shown with the reins displaying suppleness by their independent vertical movement when riders release the extreme pressures....not looped but supple

supple means: flexible, pliant, avoiding overt resistance

Thanks Spirithorse, but I don't exactly agree with your statement that the articles "allow absolutely no room for any other frame". The point is, references to the position of the head/neck should themselves be taken in the context of the directives as a whole, and since no horse is perfect 100% of the time, judged dressage does allow for errors and insufficiencies.... (and most of the time penalizes pervasive issues accordingly). But one aspect of a performance (head/neck position) does not completely override all other aspects, provided that it is occasional rather than constant.

As for the reins moving independently vertically, I'm not sure I'm on board with that characterisation. I prefer the concept of a following contact. To me, reins moving up and down are lacking contact, probably indicating a horse not properly trained to take the contact forward. There is also the danger of creating a noisy bit in the horse's mouth. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, I'm not quite certain of your meaning. I think we can agree that what we need to advocate is a gentle, effective and rewarding contact for the horse. But I maintain that consistent contact is essential.

paulaedwina
Jun. 25, 2011, 09:46 PM
I think a more accurate analogy is that dressage, and what was seen in the video, are both examples of classical horsemanship.

MMA and karate are both martial arts. But to call MMA karate will probably not impress people with your knowledge of martial arts.

I like this alot! Both dressage and what was seen in the video are examples of classical horsemanship. I like that alot. It suits me because classical horsemanship involves tools to build a horse and produces the kind of balance, riding and strength seen here. Well done.

MMA certainly isn't Karate, but it is martial arts because martial arts teach you to fight (whether you fight or not, whether you spar or not, all the movements are warrior movements - basic positions full of intent to help with balance, strength and movement). That's why I used the analogy to make my case with the video.

Paula

dragonharte8
Jun. 25, 2011, 10:07 PM
Lost at C
I do not mean reins jumping up and down, but rather the observer sees the reins displaying suppleness in motion. and that is a result of "following" or as I was schooled releasing....and I can see where the word release would conjure up releasing all contact, which is not the case.

As for the 'on the bit' frame, it is there because that position 'allows' the horse freedom of the forehand. And as it is mandated, recognizing that horses will evade the bit and other factors, judges should be consentrating on the rein contact because of its affect. Remember that the horse should appear to be doing the movements on its own, and that requires the riders to 'follow/release' the horse.

So the other videos posted here should be viewed from the aspect of does the horse appear to be doing it because he/she is having fun........! Oh, that is a description that should be part of dressage.....is the horse having fun?

lovey1121
Jun. 25, 2011, 10:18 PM
Thanks Spirithorse

BZZZ BZZZZ BZZZZ.

BaroquePony
Jun. 25, 2011, 10:56 PM
hhhmmmmm ..... shoot me at x :yes:.

Fancy That
Jun. 26, 2011, 11:53 AM
Natrualequus - you took the words right out of my head!!!

Kyzteke - I'm with you

EquiBrit - LOVED your post - very very educational and I agree 100%

I'm a lurker here.... as I'm actually a California Reinsman/Vaquero/Buckaroo enthusiast, who loves Buck Brannaman, Martin Black, Richard Winters, Dennis Reis, Chris Cox and others. I believe the highest form of riding is straight up in the bridle (as they say)

I don't belong here (on this forum...I'm the black sheep), but I ride English, grew up doing H/J and do Eventing (which INCLUDES DRESSAGE), so I find this discussion fascinating.


I disagree Gloria - Kyzteke addressed the issue really well imo. Loopy reins do not = 0 contact. The horse can still be 'on the bit' and maintaining 'contact' albeit on a loose rein. The feeling is there when you ride such a horse. Therefore there is no need for multiple drastic changes in contact (as in, picking up all the slack in the rein) because the horse remains on the bit throughout, and in fact, you don't see reiners stopping and preparing their horses with drastic changes in contact. There is pretty good flow here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FeV3f93DTs&feature=related. I can assure you too with the horses I have ridden in such a fashion (though of course not nearly at this level!), I was not picking up and dropping the reins constantly and offering the drastic changes you mention. At that level especially, communication is subtle and all that is required as a correction is a lifting of the hand and reins, when necessary, not a total collection of any slack.

(To add to Kyzteke's post, this is where the gradual progression to a spade bit comes in - by the time a rider attains the level whereby a spade bit may be used, they have mastered the art of subtlety and intimate communication with that horse. The spade though is another tool with which one is maintaining that contact because at that point, the horse is holding the bit and maintaining an appropriate outline).

I don't think anyone here (?) has made the argument a horse should be ridden bridleless at all times, just that it is possible to maintain carriage in the horse without the use of reins, or on a drooped rein (which includes contact).

Equibrit, I really appreciate your post - I found it quite enlightening, myself.