Yes, training does make better riders, but I would like to submit that we are to a large extent trained by the horses we ride, for better or for worse, just as they are trained by us. That's why Podhajsky wrote *My Horses, My Teachers,* and also why it makes sense for each of us to buy the best horses (for our purposes) that we can afford.
I apologize for the misuse of quotation marks - usually my english speaking/writing skills are better - I suppose I was getting into a sort of *making quote marks with fingers* sort of attitude to paraphrase my interpretation of the remarks.
Your comment, however, IMHO, is quite correct. The best horses (for our purposes) THAT WE CAN AFFORD. I think for the vast majority of amateur riders, we HAVE the best horse we can afford. I don't know of anyone who says, "I think I want to do dressage, I have $5K, so I'll go out and buy the LEAST suitable horse to do dressage." But the horse one ends up with may not necessarily be a WB. Appropriateness and suitability are also factors. We make compromises - young horse/old horse, trained/untrained - what is the best I can do for what I am able to pay? Being advised to go into debt to get the supposed better horse - not such a good idea, UNLESS you are so totally focussed on FEI levels and/or winning and/or the team that it becomes a necessity for you. And even then...a risky proposition if you cannot AFFORD to take a loss due to injury or eventual mental or physical unsuitability - like that winning Young Horse competitor referenced by Betsy Steiner that essentially "quit" when he hit second level - those marvelous gaits being a little too difficult for him to contain and he didn't WANT to do it.
Being told that you won't improve your riding without such a horse is also... I'm trying to find a word.... not quite irrelevant, but something like that if your goals are smaller and perhaps more focussed, as we say (sigh) on the journey rather than on winning per se or reaching FEI levels in the immediate future.
I am going through the ups and downs of dealing with a supergreen big moving 3.5 year old, purchased at 2.5, unstarted. I am riding at the limits of my ability and holding on by my fingernails. Another horse probably would have been more appropriate or more suitable, BUT... I could not AFFORD a more trained and equally good moving horse. While I may be a little too old to be dealing with a baby horse, I'm also too old to be dealing with an older horse with possible soundness issues - which is probably the only way I could have afforded a decent WB with training. But to imply that one cannot improve as a rider and cannot do good dressage unless one acquires a five-figure WB....I just can't get behind that
I guess I can see both sides, here. I agree that Ms. Syndor should have phrased it better, and saying that people are "wasting time" with "lesser horses" is unecessarily harsh.
I definitely feel I am learning more on a horse with some training (not at rarified GP level, but fairly solid 2nd Level, willing/able to go on the bit if I give her half a chance, etc.) than if I were taking lessons on a greener horse. I also ride several other horses who range from no dressage training at all, just solid trail horse to a horse who is regularly doing 1st Level dressage and jumping 3'6" with one of his other riders. They teach me a lot, and I can apply what I learn in my lessons, but I feel it's important for me to spend at least part of my time with a horse who knows what it is doing. I feel the quality of the horse's gaits are pretty irrelevant at this point in my education - in fact, a really fancy mover with a ton of suspension might well be more than I could sit.
It does seem like a lot of people get into a Green+Green (to dressage at least, and often to riding in general) situation, and I think it's tough even with weekly or twice weekly lessons to make much progress. I wouldn't say that they are wasting their time and money exactly, but taking lessons on a horse with more training while the trainer gets the horse going better would probably get them to the point where they can work as a team a lot faster.
Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.
I have a green horse and I'm a green dressage rider. I'm very forward riding with forward leg, short iron, use to using leg totally different etc...
My horse and I started about 1 1/2 months ago and its amazing the improvement we have both made. I have began to learn to sit up, have long legs, use calf more than heel, and how to get my horse to bend properly as well as he is learning the same. It is very hard but its amazing when you can say I DID THIS MYSELF (of course with trainer ). It's such an accomplishment when we get something right and I'm so proud of my horse and myself when it is right. When its wrong I don't blame the horse (unless he is just being a spaz which sometimes he can be) because usually I'm asking wrong. My trainer has got on him a few times to get him to understand the cues but thats it. We now can do shoulder in, loops, bend in our corners without loosing the shoulder or haunches (on a horse that use to be VERY stiff), shoulder fore, accept the bit, freewalk almost straight , lengthen on the diagnol, and have proper 20 M circles not free form anymore. It's amazing what we've done in the past 1 1/2 months but it has taken ALOT of hard work and dedication from myself and my horse. I paid 2500.00 for him (or should I say my husband did ) and he may be able to take me to 3rd level. I will have to post another video of him for you guys its amazing the difference!!! I think that if you have the time and dedication its worth doing it yourself for the feeling you get when you do it right is amazing.
I do understand when a talented rider realizes they've reached their diligent horse's limit and sadly will need to upgrade if they want to move upward in dressage. A more advanced, more talented horse with potential to reach even higher will cost a bundle.
However, I don't agree with some dressage people who are unwilling to work hard and learn, but think they can 'buy' their way up the levels by spending tons of $$ on advanced horses. Often, those talented horses are just held back by the people who aren't willing to work hard to earn their place on that horse's back or that dressage testing level.
I am a firm believer that a well taught rider can go far with a well bred, athletic horse (of many breeds) who shows interest in the sport dressage. Phantom, my 'imported warmblood', is actually an elegant Morgan from Canada. I joke that he was a 5 yr. old weanling because he didn't know much about human creatures or their world. His only job at the breeder's was to raise weanlings. The breeder said he would often stop playing and just look at the horizon like he wanted more.....be careful what you ask for! He wasn't even started under saddle and stood at all of 14½ hands at the time. But I've always been good at teaching horses and I could see Phantom's dressage potential in his natural movement. He grew up and filled out to a more mature looking 15 hands now. Since I'm all of 5'1" myself, I make him look BIG!!
Back in the upper Midwest years ago, I was very fortunate to have studied under a USDF judge, who himself studied in Germany (I'll just call him 'Bill'). Bill was a wonderful instructor back then and taught me well from the back of my last horse (Arab/TB/QH adrenalin junkie!!). Now I've taken that knowledge and am teaching Phantom, who is proving that I was right about his dressage potential. I love it when european warmblood owners say "Wow" as they watch us work. I'll take my 15 hand elegant Morgan any day over the huge ones! And since I am willing to do the training, he was a bargain $$!!!!!!