Just wanted to add my support and say that if you DO make the switch, I'd love to see you out there.
If you're still considering using your current horse, maybe you can have either the clinician or another of the more talented instructors near you put a ride or two on him to see about whether or not his trot can be improved enough for you to be comfortable. No sense in trying to learn to sit him if he's always going to be a jarring ride, and if that's the case you can more than likely sell him and buy a more suited horse. There are quite a few nice quality mid-level packers in this area right now, and many of them at affordable asking prices.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
lies with in us. - Emerson
How am I transitioning?? Very slowly!!!! I started working with a dressage trainer last year when I realized there were large holes in my horse's flat work and it was affecting the jumping. I wouldn't say that my horse is well suited for dressage, but I feel like dressage will improve his gaits overall. Financially, I can't just go out and replace him or my tack. I am making do with what I have and I am overjoyed with the new things I am learning. Good luck to you...I haven't wanted to jump since I started, there are so many other things to focus on!!!!
I'm curious, what are the saddles you're talking about? I have just had a similar experience. I also have switched back to dressage from hunters after many years. I have realized how important the dressage saddle is! In the hunter world it's really more about the current trend in saddles not the actual saddle. I think there are many decent close contact saddles out there that will work just as well as the trendy expensive "saddle of the day". But this is not true with dressage. Your saddle really is extremely important!
I was borrowing a friend's Stubben Scandia. It was a comfortable saddle but I was not getting the correct position in it. I was so frustrated, my BNT was telling me that my position was blocking my horses movement but everytime I tried to sit "correctly" I was hitting the pommel with my crouch... it just wasn't working. I tried a Neidersuss and VOILA! what a difference!! Horse is moving so much better, and I am sitting correctly and I'm comfortable!
I also switched from hunters to dressage recently mainly because of previous injuries and my more "mature" sense of self preservation. I am enjoying riding so much more now. I also have to add that I feel much more secure in a dressage saddle than a close contact saddle. My dressage instructor told me during my first lesson that when a horse spooks and you're riding in a close contact saddle you're body is thrown forward (shorter stirrups and leaning forward to begin with) but when a horse spooks and you're in a dressage saddle you are much more likely to be pushed deeper into your saddle. I found this very comforting and very true! I am enjoying riding much more these days.
Good luck to you. I would find a dressage horse to lease or a schoolmaster to lesson on. If your jumper is that uncomfortable I'd consider selling him if you are sure you want to pursue a dressage career.
I'm curious, what are the saddles you're talking about? I have just had a similar experience.
I was riding in a County Warmblood with a very wide twist, and any saddle with a wide twist just destroys my position. I simply could not open up my hips wide enough to allow my legs hang down under me. The width of the twist would push my but back and my legs would then shoot forward, then I would struggle to get my seat forward and my legs back.
I tried loads of saddles, Bates, other County's, a couple Reactor Panels, a couple Mike Corcoran Saddles (better). Steffen Peter's assistant recommended a Trilogy for my particular problem, and I bought a Trilogy Verago. It's just wonderful for me, I feel like a different rider
I don't think any one saddle works for everybody, but you have to find the right saddle for you. And it's really amazing how much more enjoyable dressage is!
Welcome to the crowd! I got started in my re-riding career with the goal of eventing, but a bad accident put an end to that as I am no longer allowed to jump. My horse (a sport-bred Morgan) was in dressage training at the time, so I just stuck with it. And now her jumping days are over too, due to an injury, but luckily she's quite a nice lower-level dressage horse.
It's very, very different than the "forward seat" or "balanced seat" or whatever modes. I am still, 2 years later, learning the real basics of dressage position. The saddle does make a difference; I bought my beloved, comfy Albion Style when I was still rehabbing from the accident, and now find it lacking. The horse I take lessons on (see below) has a custom Hennig, built for the horse and the rider who is short and curvy like I am, and it really, really makes a difference. I can sit the trot in the Hennig, while it's a struggle in the Albion. Not that I'll be buying a Hennig anytime soon; they are seriously expensive saddles. But I can dream that maybe by the time my horse is sound, I'll find a way to afford a really nice, high end saddle.
On horses: yes, you will need to sit eventually, but for Training and (next year) First Level, you can post, and should, if you can't sit without hurting yourself. As your build up your core, sitting the trot will become easier. Your current horse might not be as unsuitable as you think.
BUT, if you possibly can, find a good horse "who knows more than you do" to take lessons on. I am lucky enough to have stumbled upon such a horse; Miss Hennig is a small WB mare who trained to 4th level, but excels at being a lesson horse for Training and First Level riders (and it doesn't ruin her, either.)
welcome And glad to hear you're nearly ready to ride again!
Welcome to the dark side. I think you will find the "DQs " are not what you have possibly been led to believe.
I planned to work on dressage and jumping with my current horse but have found the dressage to be very addictive. Especially when you start to see physical changes in your horse and in the way he moves and carries himself.
I still occasionally ride in my close contact saddle but I find I have a really hard time switching between a hunt seat and a dressage seat. Learning the dressage seat is still a work in progress but when I want to ride in my close contact and maybe hop over some jumps I find that my two point has...poof...vanished. I evented in my twenties and thirties and seemed to go back and forth more easily but now...ick.
No reason you can't start with your current horse and see how that goes. You might be surprised at the physical changes.
I will second the saddle comment, a correctly fitting saddle will make the transiton much better.
I've been in the transition for a while, and actually still moving back and forth a bit between the two. I agree the right dressage saddle is like night and day, for both you and your horse. Since getting my new saddle, I've seen a huge improvement in both me and my horse. After my weekly lesson in my close contact saddle, hopping on my guy in my dressage saddle is like 'coming home.'
You will learn a whole new way to balance and use entirely new muscles.
Agree with the poster who said try starting on your own horse from the very bottom of the training scale to see if you can improve his gaits a bit. See if you can get a good instructor to hop on him, and also take your time and try some other horses. But no need to rush any of that, lower level work is done posting anyway.
I made the transition from HJ to dressage via eventing due largely to a horse that didn't like to jump and now have transitioned back to HJ with a horse that prefers jumping. So, perhaps I am not the best role model here.
I started dressage lessons in my HJ saddle, a somewhat flat hard saddle by today's HJ standards (Crosby Equilibrium) and finally bought a dressage saddle when I was doing training-level eventing. The horse, the one prior to the one that disliked jumping, was a fairly hot TB who tended to go around like a gazelle. Or a crab, depending on his mood. The then-boyfriend of a serial Olympian got on him during a clinic and gave up, if that gives you any idea. But, I learned a lot from that horse, like really good feel and riding forward from the leg to the hand. He wouldn't have been my first choice for straight dressage, but the point is that I learned quite a bit from a far-from-perfect horse. But at least he was fairly comfortable, even when channeling different species. And we brought our dressage scores up to the point that we were generally within on cross-country stop of the leaders after dressage.