dressage or hunter?
I will try not to turn this into a novel but I need to give some background. My horse is 7 years old and I have owned him since he was 3. Due to his immaturity and my lack of drive he is still very green. Recently I have decided to step things up a bit and we are progressing. However I think it is time I started working with a trainer.
I have to decide which route to take. I have access to a local eventing trainer and a dressage trainer. The horse is a warmblood though not typical. He is jumper bred, cute but not a spectacular mover. When free jumped he shows a powerful hind end.
I am aged (close to 70) have been riding various horses most of my life. Have shown jumper, hunter and dressage in my younger days but have not done much other than hacking and schooling on my own for the last 5 years. I am in good weight and shape for my age but I am not sure how I would cope with starting a greenie over fences at this stage in my life. I have started quite a few successfully in the past.
I look after 5 horses on my own and cannot afford to be laid up. I managed last year with a broken collar bone and it wasn't fun.
Opinions and suggestions are welcome.
Which are "you" more interested, dressage or hunter? My vote is dressage but it is what I'm interested in, and if I send my horse to a hunter trainer, it would be because it shows great aptitude for hunter, and then, I would start to market it to sell, because I don't ride hunter any more. Basically, unless the horse is telling me which discipline he prefers, I choose the one I like.
It sounds to me like you don't want to do hunters, but I could be misinterpreting your post. Do what you're most comfortable with.
As the horse is basically green, I would vote for the dressage approach. It will be good for both of you and will really help w/ solid basics. The best hunter I rode in my pre-dressage days had two years of dressage rather than over-jump him when he was 4-5. In the process and depending on your budget, you could have the eventing trainer teach him the basics over fences once a week or so, just to break up his routine and see what you have.
I agree that dressage training will give you a great foundation, even if you decide to go into the hunters later.
I'd go with the dressage & maybe have a trainer take him over fences once a week or so :)
Have you audited lessons with both trainers? if not, do so, also have a few trial lessons with each, to see who fits best with you & your horse.
Course I'd also look for some young person to help out with barn/horse chores so you can relax about sick days & take the occasional vacation day or weekend away :lol:
An eventing trainer may also be an excellent dressage trainer. I'd watch and or take test lessons with both and go to the one that seemed a better instructor overall. Whatever you want to do will always be out there.
It does sound like you (perhaps subconsciously) are not favoring the idea of starting this horse as a hunter.
In any case, I am placing another vote for dressage. I feel it is always beneficial to focus on dressage first to implement all basics which are necessary for the fundamentals of any sport. Especially since you claim he is "not a spectacular" mover, as dressage always ensures focus on acquiring the best methods to improving a horse's way of going.
And when he is flatting at his best, he has an advantage in case you decide to switch disciplines again.
Talk to both trainers, try to take a couple of lessons/clinics with each and see where the personality and attitude fit is better for you and the horse.
Either trainer can focus on flatwork and my dressage trainer/instructor includes gridwork in the education that can lead up to "real" jumping.
Why decide? If you have access to both, and you like both, I don't see much harm in using both... flexibility is king in my world view, and most reasonable people have something valuable to teach. Just my $.02
Thanks everyone for your opinions. I have decided to take an introductory lesson with both of them. I will see whose style will fit me the best. I am not the easiest student to teach. I did think that perhaps the event trainer could at some time hop on my horse and get him started over fences once we think he is ready.
I often find that putting things in writing allows me to answer my own questions.
But input from strangers is also very helpful.