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Why can't downhill horses do dressage?

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  • Original Poster

    #21
    Awesome to hear all of your success stories! Now I suppose this little appy may have a hard time with how downhill he moves, I had considered leasing him a while back for western pleasure but he's leased to a friend now. Does he appear awkward do you guys? Sorry for the blurry pic.

    ​​​​​​​

    Comment


    • #22
      Originally posted by Pinto.powerhouse View Post
      Awesome to hear all of your success stories! Now I suppose this little appy may have a hard time with how downhill he moves, I had considered leasing him a while back for western pleasure but he's leased to a friend now. Does he appear awkward do you guys? Sorry for the blurry pic.

      ​​​​​​​
      I see nothing wrong with the appy in the picture you posted.

      It seems that you are only looking at the negatives when you see a horse.

      Some sayings from several instructors that may be applicable
      • "Quit worrying and ride the horse in front of you"
      • "The problem is you only consider negative possibilities"
      • "It is the difficult horses that make you a better rider."

      Perhaps the "brilliant rider" has polluted your thinking.

      I would ditch this whole "downhill" thinking and just ride the horse you have....and see where it takes you.
      Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
      Alfred A. Montapert

      Comment


      • #23
        OP, I think the appy is caught in an awkward, "landing" phase of his trot. But doing an imperfect comparison of the two horses, I think your palomino is the one with the more balanced build. And I have seen way, way worse in terms of down hill and quarter horse hind ends. Yes, the croup on your horse is sloping, but at least he's got some angle to his hocks. The do breed some of 'em to have a sloping croup (as if he were going to tuck is pelvis and sit), but then very straight hocks!

        In any case, I think your palomino will do just fine.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat

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        • #24
          Originally posted by Pinto.powerhouse View Post
          Awesome to hear all of your success stories! Now I suppose this little appy may have a hard time with how downhill he moves, I had considered leasing him a while back for western pleasure but he's leased to a friend now. Does he appear awkward do you guys? Sorry for the blurry pic.
          Actually, this horse appears to be in a level balance, it’s the ground/photo that’s downhill. That would be perfectly fine and not penalized until 2nd level and beyond. He’s also trotting loose, give the guy a chance.

          Stop worrying about what this alleged brilliant rider says, just start doing dressage with the horse you have and see where it takes you. You don’t need to worry about collection and uphill balance for quite awhile. Start with the basics.

          Comment


          • #25
            I worked up to medium with my croup high, hunter TB. We switched to dressage when he was 10. He did have good basics, was willing and with a good trainer we qualified for the provincial championship.

            Good luck with your horse.

            Comment


            • #26
              The more I read this thread, the more my suspicion the "brilliant rider" isn't so much. Look for the rider who appears to just quietly sit there and move with the horse, who gets adjustments, changes and development of the horse, and who is both effective and peaceful in riding. That will be your brilliant rider to emulate.
              If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
              -meupatdoes

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              • #27
                I had a downhill Appy when I was a kid, and he actually rode quite light in his front end, and did some lower level jumping and dressage just fine. If the horse has a good disposition, that's worth more to me at this point in my life.

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by Pinto.powerhouse View Post
                  Silly question incoming! There's a woman at my barn who does dressage on a massive TB gelding, She's a brilliant rider! I was talking to her the other day because I'm starting to transition from western to English riding and she's a great help when the trainers not around. She said that if I was to try and do dressage on a stocky downhill QH it would be a disaster. I'm not sure if she was referring to performance, lameness or both. I don't doubt her knowledge. But I'm wondering exactly why these horses struggle to perform dressage. Is it because they find it harder to transfer weight to the hind end? Could a downhill horse ride lower levels if they're not downhill to a severe degree?
                  OP, if you are new to English riding you may not have heard of the phenomenon known as a Dressage Queen (DQ for short).

                  The DQ has attained some competence in her riding relative to the other folks in her immediate circle (at my barn you can be a DQ if you show First Level at a rated show) but is probably acutely aware of how she ranks versus the higher level folks that she admires and emulates (not high enough, she is always looking higher than where she is).

                  Now once someone has a bit of competence in any area relative to the folks around you, there are two paths they can take.

                  One path is to be genuinely helpful and encouraging, and say things like "What a cute horse. He has a really kind eye and you look comfortable on him. I bet if you did exercise xyz on him, that would really help him start to understand abc." People who behave like this are not DQ. They are horsemen/ horsewomen, and some day they may be trainers of others.

                  The other path is to exalt your status and make the gap between you and the underlings seem insurmountable. That's the mindset when people say "oh, doing dressage on your horse would be a disaster and you will never be as brilliant as I am so abandon all hope." That is a DQ move. Double points if the speaker is what my re-rider friend referred to as "one of those hard-featured blondes, I can't tell them apart." Triple points if the horse is a black bay (favorite dressage color of DQ).

                  Now much of what a DQ tells you will be more or less correct, because she is just spouting the basic common knowledge and broad generalizations she got from her own trainers. But it will always have a self-serving slant, and it will be used not to enlighten you so much as to overawe and discourage you. And it may well be a bit reductive, and depend on ultimately wrong short cuts.

                  Now, I don't know if you have a full scale Mean Girl DQ on your hands here. But if she is cornering you and talking your ear off about her own implicit awesomeness every time the trainer is out of the room, and most importantly if you are left feeling lousy about yourself and your prospects, then you have a DQ problem for sure.

                  Your (possibly DQ) friend may indeed be a brilliant rider. Or she may just be a competent dressage rider, the first one you've seen or just the best in the barn. She may overall be a good help to you, or she may just be undermining your confidence. It's up to you to decide if the help you get from her is outweighed by the discouragement she gives you.

                  Now, I don't know if you really have a DQ situation here. it's possible she is a lovely person, and just made that one remark about downhill horses as an information item. However, if she was a real horsewoman she would have been able to explain on the spot what it was *about your horse in particular* that was going to need extra work *in a particular way* to help him optimize his potential.

                  You might find it interesting to look up her show records and see what level she actually competes at. That is a great way of demystifying the Barn Experts. Also keep in mind that she is riding a massive thoroughbred. That's all very well, but she probably wanted a Warmblood and couldn't afford one.





                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by Shiaway View Post
                    I know several upper level QHs with less dressage-favorable conformation than yours. It's more about his brain and your own ability as a rider.

                    Also, someone mentioned "purpose-bred" P.R.E. Yes some are being bred for dressage now but let's not forget that the PRE/lusitano is basically the Iberian version of a cowhorse.
                    omg thank you! I've used exactly that description myself! They are very much an uphill 'working class horse' for working and driving cattle.
                    The stories of the T-Rex Eventer

                    Big Head, Little Arms, Still Not Thinking It Through

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                    • #30
                      You can do Dressage on a downhill horse. You just need to be aware of them not traveling on the forehand. My horse is downhill and does Dressage just fine.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        OP, I think you may have experienced a person with a bit of breed bias. It’s an ugly part of Dressage that sometimes rears its ugly head. Try to ignore it and enjoy your horse! And try to find someone with solutions instead of roadblocks!
                        I LOVE my Chickens!

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          That palomino can do just fine as a starter dressage horse. I like him better than the appy. I happen to own both a quarter horse and a warmblood. The quarter horse has a level to slightly downhill build, and is not as supple and prone to flexing/sitting with the hind, so it is not as naturally easy for her to do the work as it will be for the WB. The WB is 3, and she has already exhibited her passage, and has a tendency to sit and step under with her hind leg in a way that will take my QH years to learn/develop.

                          However, I have no doubt my QH has the ability to go to 3rd level, and there is SO MUCH in dressage to learn at training through 2nd level. I mean, you can spend YEARS learning correct basics. In the long run, I think working through this with an average horse will give you a great advantage, because you can't fake it. The correct foundation has to be there. Then when you get a more talented horse, you'll be able to see past the aptitude and find the foundational things that need to be addressed. In short, you will learn to train and improve the horse, which IMO, is the most exciting thing about dressage, and will help you climb the levels.

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            OP.... Scribbler said it much more politely than me....But an ancient saying comes to mind, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man in king." Perhaps this is your "brilliant rider."

                            The saying means that a person with (perhaps) limited abilities, is at an advantage when around those with lesser knowledge about some technical field.

                            True dressage is just the basic training of the horse. Now "competitive dressage" is a whole 'nother ball of wax.....AND it is actually similar to Western Pleasure in that each discipline is going for a "Look" that wins in the competition arena.....AND additionally that both these disciplines are totally disconnected from the "working" aspects of the discipline they came from.

                            Equestrian competition and competitive dressage came into play during Baron DeCoubertin's ressurection of the Modern Olympics in 1912. These competitions were ridden by cavalry officers who used their horses to go to war. They needed to have a pretty functional and obedient horse to carry its rider safely into battle. The "competitive dressage" we see today is a perversion of that competition.

                            The fashion in today's competitive dressage is an emphasis on large gaits that in the past were seen in coaching horses, not riding horses. We see horses that don't have the basic obedience to the rider and blow up at the audience clapping.... that can't stand still at the halt.... etc. Compare that to the story of Alois Podhajski at an exhibition with his Lipizzan who did not move a muscle when a helicopter landed nearby.

                            Ditto for Western Pleasure. This competition originated as a way to highlight a horse who was a pleasure to ride, who was light to the aids with a calm and obedient disposition. Fast forward to today and you have the proverbial "peanut rollers" with broken gaits that are a bastardization of what one would want in a true pleasure horse.

                            If what you want to do is to train your horse to the best it can do, then forget the naysayers and ride the horse you have.

                            If you google for images of working QH's you will see horses that are well on their haunches, with a good sit. Don't let your local expert rain on your parade.

                            Each disciplines emphasizes different things, but the fact that the horse you are considering is a QH, does not mean it can't "do" dressage.





                            I would say that the "cowboy" in this video rides the dressage horse better (and lighter) than its "dressage rider."

                            https://youtu.be/rqyV9kGQpEc?t=19
                            Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
                            Alfred A. Montapert

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by pluvinel View Post

                              I would say that the "cowboy" in this video rides the dressage horse better (and lighter) than its "dressage rider."

                              https://youtu.be/rqyV9kGQpEc?t=19
                              He is so soft in his riding... wow! I haven't seen this video before, very cool to watch.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by Scribbler View Post


                                You might find it interesting to look up her show records and see what level she actually competes at.


                                IME many real lulu DQs do not compete because modern dressage competitions are "too political/non-classical/whetever".

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  I don't think y'all need to start tearing down the OP's "brilliant rider" friend, sight unseen. There are so many parts of the story that could have been distorted such that that person is made into the troll that some of you take paragraphs to describe.

                                  But why? Why do that to some unknown person? If she's a good rider local to the OP who can help her AND (as is the case) none of us on-line can give her a better solution, why crap all over the one she has? I don't think that helps the OP and an evaluation of the person who made that comment isn't what the OP asked for. As I read it, the OP was asking a biomechanical question.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by mvp View Post
                                    I don't think y'all need to start tearing down the OP's "brilliant rider" friend, sight unseen. There are so many parts of the story that could have been distorted such that that person is made into the troll that some of you take paragraphs to describe.

                                    But why? Why do that to some unknown person? If she's a good rider local to the OP who can help her AND (as is the case) none of us on-line can give her a better solution, why crap all over the one she has? I don't think that helps the OP and an evaluation of the person who made that comment isn't what the OP asked for. As I read it, the OP was asking a biomechanical question.
                                    Well I said I didn't actually know if the friend was overall helpful or undermining. But even if this friend is overall helpful, the warning stands that sooner or later the OP is going to run into this.

                                    Hey, you could have a nice enough WB and have some DQ say his bloodlines were wrong for FEI or whatever.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      OP, since you are new to English riding, don’t already own this horse and want to do dressage, I’m going to defend your dressage friend here.
                                      Its one thing to switch disciplines with a horse you already own. It’s another thing to purposefully buy a horse that’s not naturally suited for what you want to do. None of us have seen this horse move. Maybe he looks like he’d be hard for a beginner to train to get off his forehand. It’s easier to start with a horse that knows what it’s doing and travels uphill and level. A really good dressage trainer can work with a downhill horse and train it but you are learning yourself. Maybe she thinks you’re going to want to progress beyond this horse’s capability. It’s impossible to know. You can always have a frank discussion with her and let her know you would be happy aiming for second level and don’t care how long it takes.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        Another thing that no one mentioned. I am sure the woman who told you your horse is downhill is a great rider. However ask her what her background is. Many people have only ridden horses who are already trained. Yes they need to have the ability to ride these horses, but it takes a different set of skills to do the training, especially if the horse is not the ideal build etc. I have been in boarding facilities and everyone has an opinion. Listen, learn discernment, read and do your own research and move on. There is no reason why your horse cannot do at least basic dressage. I have seen many very uphill, fantastic movers not make it due to attitude and lack of willingness.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          I'd also add that with a good coach, starting to school basics on a good minded well broke Western horse is a very good introduction to the discipline. You might never get anything very flashy happening but if you can ride a good walk shoulder in on your QH then when you get onto a dressage schoolmaster you will be able to ride a trot shoulder in OK, for example.

                                          You may be further ahead in the long run than if you traded up now for a big moving hot young WB that's too much horse for you and bounces you around too much. The WB might have more talent but that's all wasted if you can't ride him forward with confidence.

                                          For switching disciplines starting basics on this lease horse and re evaluating in a year will likely be just fine.


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