just don't impale yourself.seriously.
I will say that if it was used to justify removing the requirement for spade bits in competition, I feel it did the western horse a disservice.
Say what you will about spade bits, but you can't hide poor horsemanship behind a spade bit. Likewise, you can't "make" a spade bit horse in the time it currently takes to have a baby reiner in the ring in a curb bit.
The explanation behind "never using the reins" is probably best summarized by the tale of "thread in the rein". The story went that a vaquero could only go from the two-rein to straight up in the bridle if they could bind the bit to their rein with a single tail hair on each side, do an entire day's work, and not break the hair.
How true the above is is largely up to anyone's beliefs, but whether we believe it or not that doesn't mean that they never used the bit before reaching this "finished" point. Therefore it is entirely plausible for the horse to have an educated mouth when they've advanced to the point where they understand the bit, but it isn't required because the cues are coming from the rider's body instead.
A bosal doesn't teach the horse to yield the jaw directly, but doesn't prevent it from doing so either. Unlike the lateral-only snaffle, however, the bosal progression works magnificently in teaching the horse to telescope the neck, and the actions required at the poll and TMJ to allow this presuppose a free jaw. No horse can truly "reach into the bridle" and telescope the neck if they're restricted in the TMJ.
The spade is only different in that it has no meaningful ability as a lateral tool, whereas a bosal does.
I read most of J.R. Young's books years and years ago, and he really left me with very mixed feelings. At first read the ideas sound wonderful--on second or third thought maybe not quite so much. Actually, in thinking about it, some of his training thoughts were sort of a westernized version of Vladamir Litthauer's training methods.
I think that Young had very definite ideas about a lot of things and he was sort of regarded as a maverick, but I'm still not sure whether his ideas would completely hold water, then or now.
Then again, the spade is a working tool, and few competition reiners are working horses. Likewise the use of two hands on a curb in western dressage means that the discipline has no intention of making a useful western working horse. Can't do much with a rope if both hands are required to steer your "western" horse. Maybe both disciplines are better off moving away from the spade traditions in the end.
aktill - with regard to you reference spurs, I don't think that flies as an analogy. If you never used spurs and then suddenly jabbed the horse - yeah, you might not get a reaction you liked because the horse wasn't gradually educated to the feel of the spurs. If you train a horse to the spade in the "Californio" manner, the horse DOES have an uneducated mouth: If you never truly ask for/take a contact and ask the horse to relax the jaw and carry the bit, going into contact, how is it going to learn to do that? Of course, you don't WANT a spade bit horse to do that...but that's where you run into the WD conundrum (not that most WD people are using spades, but still the whole draped rein, no contact western style): I don't believe it is "dressage" if the horse isn't working into contact, and two-handed contact on a curb at Intro/TL would seem to be saying either (a) the horse is being forced and/or has a headset; or (b) the rider is skilled to a much higher level than intro and the horse should probably being doing 3rd level of above "regular" dressage (just kidding, sorta!)
Now many years ago - I'm thinking between '71 and '74 - I attended a sort of "combined" schooling show. There was a one-day horse trial, straight dressage, and a class they called "Western Pattern Class Ridden in the Dressage Arena." They broke the classes into Novice, Limit and Open. ALL classes were ridden on a draped rein in a curb or bosal (under 5 year old horses could be shown in snaffle.) They had a judge who happened to be qualified by AHSA to judge dressage, hunters and western. Novice did the equivalent of training level, Limit did the equivalent of 1st level, and Open did a "sort of" 3rd level with flying changes, but not the rollbacks or spins of a reining pattern. Of course, that was also in the day when WP horses went with their necks arched (the era of braided reins and romels), and would have been penalized for barely-moving jogs and for tropes! As in the title of an old article I once read, they wanted "A Fast Walk and a Slow Lope. (But the lope had to be 3-beat.)"
In the same way that a horse needs to be educated to what the spur means, it has to be educated to what the bit means.
Now, if you don't want any belly to the rein at all, that's an APPEARANCE thing, not a contact question.
My understanding from my reading, and from my some what limited but by no means non-existent Western/Reining experience - with the classic and not necessarily the present day trainers (I'm 67, so....your mileage may vary), the horse was taught what it needed to know, stop, go, rollback, spin, etc., etc. in the bosal. Then it was ridden carrying the spade, but without reins, still guided/cued by seat/legs/bosal. Then it was ridden in a "two rein outfit," i.e., bosal and reins on spade, then eventually spade bit alone, so that the BAREST touch on the spade would get the necessary response. That is still NOT an educated mouth in the dressage sense. I rode a three year old (!) trained in that manner, and it was a delight, but it was also like straddling a rocket! LOL The horse responded to the lightest weight/leg cues/neck rein -- and I was very carefully instructed to not take any contact with the mouth. Again, a TRAINED horse, but NOT an educated mouth in the dressage sense. That instant response you are talking about is what I was getting - but it's not contact in the dressage sense.
As for contact, yes, except when warming up/cooling out on a loose rein, or on the trail (though at present my guy isn't a very good trail horse, but we're working on it!), my horse, when schooling, is "on the bit" and ridden on contact. It is light, but it is there. I think we may be talking at cross-purposes, since I am just saying that if you (generic you not you personally) aren't riding into that contact in a "dressage" test, with the horse working through the back, you aren't truly doing dressage in the sense of dressage as a discipline, rather than dressage as "training." Whereas, I think you are talking more about the desired western response, whether in a curb, snaffle, spade or bosal, and the differences there being between, say, a reiner that gets that instant response, and a WP horse with a "head set." (Although, can one truly call that head to the fetlock WP position a "head set"? More like a "body set." Sigh.)
I truly do miss the "up in the bridle" arched-neck style and generally purer gaits of WP horses in the 60s. By the '70s I wasn't doing western, except occasionally, a little cutting, or just spectating, so I'm not sure when the dead-eyed, slow, mixed gait WP horses took over.
As someone said earlier, race horses, jumpers, reiners, harness horses, etc., are ALL "trained," but no one calls it dressage. I think something called "Western Dressage" could possibly be developed, but if it is truly dressage, it can't be done as it seems to be done at present, and I just think while "it:, whatever it is, may be a worthy endeavor for those dissatisfied with WP and the like, they should just call it something else, not "dressage." Frankly, if I decided I no longer wanted to ride dressage and want to get more into western disciplines, I'd take up reining or cutting (if I could afford them!!!!), not "Western Dressage," whatever that may be/become.
But as I stated above, the horse is schooled using the bit before it's (if ever) "no longer required". The two rein phase is used to blend the transition from bosalita to bit, with the hand hold positions gradually moving from almost no signal on the bit to only signal with the bit (though you never ride with no reins attached to the bit...the bits are not balanced without reins attached).
Your issue seems to be that you're experienced seeing show horses in California gear. There's a saying in the western world that goes "There are lots of horses ridden in the bridle, but very few bridle horses". Just because I can hang a spade on my horse and ride him around in it doesn't make him a bridle horse. Most folks worth being called horsemen and women say to make a traditional bridle horse is to end up with a horse that's somewhere between 7-8 at best if started at 3. In a nutshell, somewhere along the lines of the time it takes to get a horse into the dressage double.
Seems to depend on whether you limit "dressage" to it's modern, rules-regulated version.
That's very different from a bridle horse that's been educated to respond to the rein. Unlike in the competitive arena, there's no "shame" in using the rein in the working world. You do what you need to do to get the job done, and if the rein brings clarity to the horse, so be it. The joy of the spade is clarity, nothing more.
The gongshow in the arena comes from the fact that few judges seem capable of judging the adjustability of the horse as regards the rein, and so instead we judge headset and outline. Behind the bit is rewarded as the outline that is seen when the horse threatened into adopting a posture in the same way that in front of the bit reigns in Dressage, both representing a poor shadow the freedom in the poll that results in the head dropping vertical due to gravity.
This is merely a result of trying to make horsemanship externally judgable, and results when people avoid trying to learn why things are desirable rather then simply what will be rewarded. We seek to emulate what the master's horse looks like, rather then understanding WHY they look the way they do. We want the look, not the horse that ends up looking like that due to correct training.
For example, how many people do you know who know WHY having a horse's head vertical is desirable, and when it's appropriate? The answer doesn't depend on your chosen discipline or clothing.
Hence, the mess with WD. No why, simply judgeable what.
I was already disappointed in US dressage when the came up in Intro. I mean, seriously? That is not "dressage", it's just basic riding. But the need for $$ was so desperate that they invented classes where you can still compete but you can do even less. "Hey," says show sponsers, " we'll dumb it down even more for you!"
Now they need to put a Western saddle on it:confused:.
Neither of these two classes are any more "dressage" than they are vaulting.
But money must be made, and figures show here in the US most people ride western. I think this is only the 2nd year Jack Brainaird's organization is in place, so I would be interested in whose "rules" are being used.
As for the fuss about "contact" -- there is ALOT of difference between the true sport of dressage as seen currently in the ring and, say, reining. But
there not as much difference as you would think between so-called western dressage and other schools of dressage...like the French for instance.
It IS contact -- it is simply LIGHT contact. And all you Intro & Training Level DQ's -- you aren't suppose to be asking horses for serious contact at that level anyway...
Remember English dressage has been developed over centuries while Western Dressage has only, what, several years? For many Western folks, riding in a curb is as natural as breathing?QUOTE]
Sorry, I'm sure that in 15 pgs somebody has already corrected you, but "western dressage" was being ridden LONG before modern competitive dressage.
The Spanish "cowboys" handled cows using one hand, with their horses ALWAYS working on the hindquarters. They were moving in just as a collected frame, BECAUSE A HORSE CAN"T DO THIS STUFF UNLESS THEY ARE COLLECTED AND MOVING OFF THE HINDQUARTERS!!
You don't train them that way as a party trick -- it is the most efficient way for a horse to move quickly. If you watch a horse in the bull fighting ring or working cattle at a branding fire or in a UL dressage ring you will see the SAME movements done at the SAME SPEEDS & GAITS.
Go to any real "cowboy dressage" clinics (although they would probably cringe at the title), who teach a horse from the ground up to a "finished bridle horse" and you will see them start the horse in a snaffle.
So if you are having an INTRO WD class, they should not be in a curb.
Or maybe it's just like a kid's party -- everybody wins a prize?
Watched the video. Not impressed. Some had snaffles, some had curbs. I recognized Eitan's voice in the voice over and I know he's pushing this WD big time, so I'm guessing it's just another money maker for the QH/Paint /Morgan world.
They get a reining horse or failed WP horse and do "Western Dressage" with them.
It seems most of the "requirements" have to do with harmony and partnership between horse & rider. While I certainly applaud the concept that isn't the easiest thing to judge and room for favoritism is rife.
I'd like to see more technical demands put on the rider. And if it's INTRO, no curbs. Snaffles or bosals. No "real" western rider puts a horse in a curb unless a) they don't know what they are doing and can't stop the SOB, in which case they are NOT much of a rider and b) the horse has
been trained to a lighter feel, which is MUCH farther along in his training.
But this is just a mish-mash of "soft feel" and other such tenets of western riding then calling it "dressage."
I'd be curious to see the requirements for a GP WD test. Is there such a thing?
Halachemy has separated from Western Dressage as of either yesterday or today so said a press release from the Western Dressage folks.
I swore I would never ride those USDF Intro tests....but for a young horse, they are just right! So don't knock 'em till ya try 'em. ;-) Training level is about horse accepting the bit, being forward and straight...the basics.....those are the hardest to teach a young horse because they set the standard for the future of that horse. Connection comes much later, but you want an open throatlatch and horse seeking the bit, not being on the vertical so much. Being round and showing the beginning of coming from behind...that stretch circle reveals correct or incorrectness in spades! You want a telescoping neck and I rarely see that.
Back to the western thing....I believe someone in the western discipline has coined a new phrase, western dressage and is selling it to the masses. They will tweak traditional dressage principles as we know them and make them work with their horses in their own way. It isn't dressage as traditionalists know it to be. It is apples and oranges. I applaud their efforts, however, if they want to know what true correctness is, they will need to get on something else, not their own horses. A headset does not make a dressage horse. And then there is the semantics...a western snaffle has a curb chain, a western curb has a curb chain...to me, they are one and the same bit...one is jointed, one is not, but both have the curb chain. A snaffle is an O ring, D ring, full cheek etc...it has NO curb chain. At least to me that is how it is.
Western dressage and USDF dressage will always be apples and oranges....we do not neck rein, they do. ;-)
I wonder who Anita Owen is. I ask because she was one of the consultants the WDAA used when formulating their rules and tests. Does she hold any water when compared to the expertise on this thread?
Regarding the sentiment that TD training level isn't dressage either. I'm not surprised to see that post at all.
Regarding neck reining as a requirement for WD -I didn't see that requirement in the WDAA rules. Would one of you experts find it for me please?
Oh SandyM - me, too!
"I truly do miss the "up in the bridle" arched-neck style and generally purer gaits of WP horses in the 60s. By the '70s I wasn't doing western, except occasionally, a little cutting, or just spectating, so I'm not sure when the dead-eyed, slow, mixed gait WP horses took over."
I am a fan of Jack Brainard. He took the old style reining techniques of the 50's (big bits, spurring the shoulder for lead changes), and transformed it to somewhat what it is today (he is known in reining circles as the Father of Flying Changes). He bases his training on classical dressage techniques (mostly Baucher) and knowing where the horses feet are for the timing of the cues. His book, "If I Were to Train a Horse" is excellent (http://www.jackbrainard.com/index.html). The problem is Old Jack is 90, and I fear won't be around much longer to get his message out to the masses. Once you read his book and see where he's coming from, you can see he really desires folks to ride in the tradition of classical dressage. I fear it just going to take a long time to get the message out.
Just to clarify, that horse I rode was technically 3, but was almost 4, and yes, that is rushed training, But, FWIW, the guy who trained him was in his 80s, and it was his personal horse, and y'know, he may have pushed it a little thinking that it might be his final horse. *shrug* It was still in bosal and spade, not a completely "finished" horse (but still quite a ride.)