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Dressage culture - Barisone sponoff

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  • Dressage culture - Barisone sponoff

    A poster in the latest Barisone discussion alluded to USDF encouraging a culture in which money played an outsize role. Specifically, dressage now revolves around buying an expensive horse to move rapidly up the levels rather than focusing on training and preparation of horse and rider to improve and develop.
    Do you guys think that is a fair assessment? Is that typical of the sport in general or only in certain regions? Is that only those at rated shows? Is there still a place for the lower budget horse and rider at the rated shows?
    I am looking toward retirement and would like to do some learning and showing, but my first goal is always going to be enjoying my horse and riding, not ribbons or medals. After reading the Barisone threads, I wonder if I want to be part of dressage.

  • #2
    Rated shows are not all equal. I would guess that if one wants to be competitive in Wellington or in the bigger shows on the west coast, one needs a higher caliber horse (and needs to be able to ride it). Here in the Midwest, not so much. One still needs to be able to ride whatever horse they're on, but we see all kinds of people on all kinds of horses doing very well at shows.

    Originally posted by FatDinah
    After reading the Barisone threads, I wonder if I want to be part of dressage.
    If one is fortunate to be in an area with good schooling shows, one doesn't have to show rated. The other side of the coin is that one doesn't have to show at all to be "part of dressage." One can ride and learn for the sheer enjoyment.
    "She is not fragile like a flower. She is fragile like a bomb."

    Comment


    • #3
      Please don’t be discouraged by my posts. dressage is beautiful and you can do it til the end of your life!! and you don’t need to bow to any organisations, in fact many people left the traditional show Dressage Szene already and found their niche!!!

      regarding your question if there is still a place for the lower budget horse and rider at rated shows I would say it depends....
      if you are a skilled rider you will be able to present any horse successfully at rated shows.
      I would assume the less skilled you as a rider are the more difficult it will get to be sucessful.
      and unfortunately it is too expensive to show rated just for fun unless you have unlimited funds....

      I do believe that I am pretty well off but over the time it simply made me sick to spill out all this money for rated shows.... And you always have the risk that your horse gets injured or something else happens... Then all this money is lost...
      https://www.facebook.com/Luckyacresfarm
      https://www.facebook.com/Ulrike-Bsch...4373849955364/

      Comment


      • #4
        What I love about dressage is that it is very easy to set your own personal goals and live happily among them. If your goal is to go out and show and get a better score than last time at Training level, you can do that. If your goal is to move up the levels, you can focus on that. If you just like training at home, you can do that.

        I'd say that what has changed is that a cohort of amateur riders has made their personal goal to move up the levels or to win at regional championships, and been very realistic about the way to do that. In many cases that has been to accumulate money that can be used for high level training and a very nice horse that will allow them to use that training to maximize competitive success. And I don't mean to suggest that's the lazy way out by any means: it's certainly been part of my personal path, though I've not competed in some time, and the way I pursued it was to get an elite engineering degree that gave me the time flexibility to do the clinics and competitions I wanted as well as some funding to own a nice horse who taught me as much as the trainers I worked with. IE: most of these riders are not doing dressage on a whim as a rich person. They accumulated money for the specific purpose of spending it on horses. And there's enough of them now that you notice them.

        Dressage has the advantage that it's maybe the most accessible of the Olympic equestrian sports to people who didn't have access to that money when they were teenagers.

        There are goals in dressage that aren't about winning the top prize, and that is a big piece of what makes it accessible even if you don't live in a hotbed of weekly competitions and even if you don't have the fanciest horse in your region. I enjoy taking a (literal) pony out and doing the best we can do... I've even been a fool and taken her out when we were totally unprepared, on someone else's late scratch, just because it was fun. The journey is fun. Dressing up and going on a trip and getting a score sheet is fun. Staying home and getting the perfect canter-walk-canter transition or half-pass is fun. Having someone take your picture of a good moment at home is fun.

        Don't let other people decide what your journey should be, or what your goals are. Find what gives you joy and do that. If it's dressage, keep on with that. If dressage is no longer that for you for whatever reason, there's always competitive trail riding or horse archery or just bonking around on national forest trails and I'm sure your dressage horse will enjoy those too if you do.
        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

        Comment


        • #5
          What Poltroon said.
          Dont let others tell you what Dressage is for you.
          That is a very personal thing that is for each of us to decide.
          Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

          http://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/...m-a-sanctuary/

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, some people spend a fortune on horses to be competitive and to move up rapidly. There was a total train wreck online a couple of years ago of a woman who had a beautiful horse that she simply could not ride. It lead to a lot of discussion about minimum standards to compete at shows since the rider was abusive in her incompetence.

            Other people train their average horse thoughtfully and well and thereby turn it into a good dressage horse, one that moves up through the levels with the rider. Dressage, IME, is about having a better horse as a result of the process. It is both physically and intellectually satisfying. Competition is more about affirming where you are in your journey rather than collecting the maximum number of ribbons. It is, however, a lot more subjective that knocking over a fence or racing against the clock around a course.

            The judge is looking at the horse, the quality and accuracy of the movements, not assessing how you dress or which barn you board at. They provide detailed comments on each movement to assist you in the journey. Obviously, the better the judge the better, more informed the comments are.

            As dressage riders tend to be older, there is correspondingly more maturity in the attitudes of trainers and fellow competitors.

            Do give dressage a go. I hope you enjoy it.
            "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

            Comment


            • #7
              I've described myself as a rider who does dressage for several years while quietly wondering if it's okay to do so. But I think it is, echoing the other folks here. Most of what I do is purely for improving my riding for its own sake; I'll never afford a fancy horse, and a dressage foundation seems like the best way to help bring along whoever I ride in the future regardless of what quirks they bring with them.

              Here in WA, there's a new spring schooling "championship" series at Donida that's geared specifically towards amateurs who want to show for a variety of reasons. I love the way they describe it (scroll down on the home page if you'd like to see it: https://www.donidafarm.com/). I'm hoping to get in at least one this year and then do the series next year — so give it a shot and join the company of fellow dressage fans like this very amateur rider on her Arab-cross pony!

              Comment


              • #8
                The US is currently in a moment of growing income disparity, apparently the biggest gaps since the 1890s between rich and middle class and poor.

                This after most of us came of age in the less disparate 20th century.

                This colors many aspects of life today.

                Of course people who are or have become exceptionally wealthy are going to be able to spend more on a sport or lifestyle than those who aren't wealthy.

                With something like horses one key to being content is to play in your own general income area

                Also dressage as a widespread amateur sport with very low levels is a fairly new phenomenon. When I was a kid, people who were afraid to jump went in rail classes which now only exist in breed shows and some schooling shows.

                All the equine disciplines started out on the assumption that the combo owner/ rider/ trainer could bring the horse along to do the job whether that was jumping, cutting, training, pleasure or indeed dressage. All equine disciplines have evolved more towards buying pro support and/or a made horse. I don't see why dressage would be exempt from that.

                I should say that in my part of the world, there is not that extreme amount of money being pumped into horses. There are also almost no ammies riding above 4th level, and only a handful of pro trainers in the FEI levels, some on made horses. Participation drops off alot after 1st level. You could not put together a full ammie class riding PSG or Grand Prix locally.

                Is that better or worse than being in California with wealthy ammies getting total support to ride well above any level they could reach on their own?

                Anyhow a key to being content with horses is to value all your aspects of horsemanship and not have everything hanging on a fantasy about ribbons. I think most of us women of a certain age have that figured out and we can dip into different disciplines without staking all our self esteem on the outcome.

                I do feel for the teens and very young adults whose horse life has been cadgjng rides at expensive junior h/j barns where they are at the mercy of the Mean Girls with Money. While the learning opportunities are probably excellent if you manage this right, it takes a big toll on their self esteem as we see in their posts. It's probably a good thing to try not to get in that situation as an adult.

                On the other hand I cannot really fault anyone for spending what they can easily afford on a hobby. I have always been one to spend less than my income and keep my basic living expenses low. On the other hand, my keeping an F250 as a second vehicle to pull my own trailer is a luxury most of my horse friends feel they can't indulge in. So it's all relative.

                If you have a horse at all, in most parts of North America, you have a bit more discretionary play money than the average person. You can look up and envy, or look down and feel lucky, or look around for good models to follow at your level of income, talent, and dedication.

                I mean if I had been Bruce Springsteen's daughter instead of just a huge huge fan I would never have spent my adolescence bombing around mountain trails alone on my little mustangish thing (Born To Run, that one) . But the things I learned about horses, horse care, self discipline, and self direction, and following your passion, were life changing. We all find what we need at the level possible for us.
                ​​​​​​
                Last edited by Scribbler; Jan. 19, 2020, 03:16 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Willesdon View Post
                  Well, some people spend a fortune on horses to be competitive and to move up rapidly. There was a total train wreck online a couple of years ago of a woman who had a beautiful horse that she simply could not ride. It lead to a lot of discussion about minimum standards to compete at shows since the rider was abusive in her incompetence.

                  Other people train their average horse thoughtfully and well and thereby turn it into a good dressage horse, one that moves up through the levels with the rider. Dressage, IME, is about having a better horse as a result of the process. It is both physically and intellectually satisfying. Competition is more about affirming where you are in your journey rather than collecting the maximum number of ribbons. It is, however, a lot more subjective that knocking over a fence or racing against the clock around a course.

                  The judge is looking at the horse, the quality and accuracy of the movements, not assessing how you dress or which barn you board at. They provide detailed comments on each movement to assist you in the journey. Obviously, the better the judge the better, more informed the comments are.

                  As dressage riders tend to be older, there is correspondingly more maturity in the attitudes of trainers and fellow competitors.

                  Do give dressage a go. I hope you enjoy it.
                  Re the bolded text (bolded by me): You'd be surprised. Associations, as in who you train under or which barn your board at, does, unfortunately, carry weight in some cases. Is it wrong? Absolutely. Does this happen everywhere? Likely not.



                  I really wouldn't get discouraged OP. Dressage can be a wonderful journey for both horse and rider. You do the best you can do, and don't worry about what others are doing, how much money they have, what their horse cost, etc. If you do it for *you*, you'll get much fulfillment.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think dressage has split into two or three different cadres.

                    There's Top Sport (international level, interesting and often inspiring to watch, but obviously beyond the means and abilities of the rest of us) , there's Rich Folks Dressage-Wellington, imported horses, custom saddles encrusted in Svarovski Crystals, designer breeches, etc., and then there's the rest of us, who buy what we can afford, cringe at our training costs, and pick and choose the shows we go to for financial and life expediency.

                    There's still more of the last group than the others. Look at the trailer parking at your local shows. If it's anything like here, its largely disgusting trucks pulling 20 year old trailers, with horse tied to the side of them, not dreamliners. We mostly our own grooms, our trainers aren't hovering over us, and our conversations often start with bitching about the cost.

                    So dont get a skewed view of the grass roots of this sport. Heck, I'm the only ammy in my barn who bothers to show at all. The other all call themselves dressage riders, take lessons and all that, too, though!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by CanteringCarrot View Post

                      Re the bolded text: You'd be surprised. Associations, as in who you train under or which barn your board at, does, unfortunately, carry weight in some cases. Is it wrong? Absolutely.
                      Oh, I do agree as everyone has bias, concious as well as unconcious. But the training and philosophy of dressage judging is to look at the horse. There is another problem in judging, which is judges can mark an unfamiliar horse harder than one they see regularly, or vice versa. But judges are human. The training and philosophy is to look at the horse. One reason why effective training for judges is essential for any nation that wishes to develop in the sport.
                      "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Willesdon View Post

                        Oh, I do agree as everyone has bias, concious as well as unconcious. But the training and philosophy of dressage judging is to look at the horse. There is another problem in judging, which is judges can mark an unfamiliar horse harder than one they see regularly, or vice versa. But judges are human. The training and philosophy is to look at the horse. One reason why effective training for judges is essential for any nation that wishes to develop in the sport.
                        Absolutely. I agree.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by FatDinah View Post
                          A poster in the latest Barisone discussion alluded to USDF encouraging a culture in which money played an outsize role. Specifically, dressage now revolves around buying an expensive horse to move rapidly up the levels rather than focusing on training and preparation of horse and rider to improve and develop.
                          Do you guys think that is a fair assessment? Is that typical of the sport in general or only in certain regions? Is that only those at rated shows? Is there still a place for the lower budget horse and rider at the rated shows?
                          I am looking toward retirement and would like to do some learning and showing, but my first goal is always going to be enjoying my horse and riding, not ribbons or medals. After reading the Barisone threads, I wonder if I want to be part of dressage.
                          It happens where I live but it far from typical. The vast majority of competitors don’t fall into this category. Those who do buy expensive, trained horses still have to put in the hours and work, or they won’t have much success in the ring.

                          As for the cost of shows - some people I know really don’t feel the cost is worth it, so they don’t show. They do dressage for the joy of progress and accomplishment, and don’t care about scores or ribbons or rankings. I would recommend that approach for anyone else who feels the same way about rated shows, because prices aren’t going to get lower. So either find an affordable schooling show circuit ( there are many) suck it up and spend the $$ on rated, or don’t show. Complaining about the cost is IMO (hypothetically) like me complaining about how expensive it is to drive my Ferrari lol. Definitely a first world problem.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ToughShet View Post
                            I've described myself as a rider who does dressage for several years while quietly wondering if it's okay to do so. But I think it is, echoing the other folks here. Most of what I do is purely for improving my riding for its own sake; I'll never afford a fancy horse, and a dressage foundation seems like the best way to help bring along whoever I ride in the future regardless of what quirks they bring with them.

                            Here in WA, there's a new spring schooling "championship" series at Donida that's geared specifically towards amateurs who want to show for a variety of reasons. I love the way they describe it (scroll down on the home page if you'd like to see it: https://www.donidafarm.com/). I'm hoping to get in at least one this year and then do the series next year — so give it a shot and join the company of fellow dressage fans like this very amateur rider on her Arab-cross pony!
                            Please tell me I'll see you at SHN!!

                            I'm with poltroon on this one. I've been told that my gelding is untrainable, and doesn't have the brain or work ethic to make it past first. We just rode through 3-1 for the first time this week with only one real bobble, and I'm still on cloud 9.

                            Here's where I think the folks who buy the SUPER nice horse at the start to get medals on easily really run into issues: They don't learn how to work through failure early on. Moving up is as easy as breathing, but then they hit a challenge, and they haven't learned how to handle them. When you learn to fail and fix it on the basic concepts, it's much easier to fix the compmlicated concepts. I HATE to think of how long it took me to estabish honest contact with my gelding, and getting hi through and over his back and honest in his topline was a WHOLE nuther challenge. But I learned to work through those issues and developed a really strong toolbox early on, as well as a LOT of practice identifying exactly where the problem was originating. I gained a LOT of practice early on, and it's just second nature to identify where the problem is, address it with some work a level or two down, and go back to the trouble spot. Getting from training to 2nd SUCKED, but the jump from 2nd to 3rd, and introducing him to 4th level work has been so much easier.

                            It's not a BAD thing to learn how it feels on a trained horse, I've found it really helpful to know what it feels like when it's right. But there's a flip side when all you've learned is how correct feels, and not to actually really troubleshoot. As frustrating as it is to be stuck on the bottom run for a short eternity, I've learned more about correct basics and how to break down what is happening with my body and my horse's body, and if I had to learn that in the context of a half pass or line of changes, I'd be LOST. It would be really easy to get frustrated and walk away, or think the answer is in a horse that doesn't have those problems.

                            I saw this in aerial, in ballroom... Those who had it easy at the start would hit problems, and had no idea how to cope. Those who really struggled to get the basics actually ended up being some of the strongest and sailing through the harder work more easily in the end. They learned early that stumbling blocks just take time and effort to resolve, and it was NBD.
                            Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              i would say it is regional and depends on who the movers and shakers are in that area. We have two regional clubs in our province, one is known for being fun and welcoming and has waiting lists for their shows, the other is known for being elitist and cliquish with a don't bother to show up unless you have a 5 fig warmblood and $300 white breeches atmosphere - their shows are struggling. In the region with the snotty club the western style dressage club is growing steadily.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                The thing that bothers me about the sport getting more expensive and restrictive (e.g. through qualifying scores) at the well-heeled AA level is that it's not just showing that becomes more expensive. Local pros who need to participate at a higher level than the average AA in order to build professional credibility are affected too - they start getting squeezed like the AA's to start fitting into a business model where they need to get more money out of their clients to stay afloat. So they start to prefer clients who can do things like keep horses with them in partial or full training - maybe multiple horses. It concerns me that it seems like dressage is heading towards the H/J model, in which case the people who are interested in doing more DIY, not being in a "program" but just taking lessons and focusing on self-development and learning how to train rather than just ride and show, they get shut out, either monetarily or just because trainers will stop being open to work with them/fit them into their schedule at all.

                                Trainers attract clients by having students who perform well at shows and performing well at shows themselves. That probably means also having/preferring students who will purchase more expensive horses, because that is the absolute easiest way to lower the bar to consistent competitive success. The result is that the culture of the sport is tuned towards the attitude that people are only "serious" about dressage if they can buy a "fancy" horse and commit to a trainer's program. ("Fancy" is very relative to location and goals, btw - import not required, wb not required, 8 gaits not required.) I don't have any data to back this up other than my own local observations, but it sure seems more prevalent than 10 years ago, and 10 years ago it was more prevalent than 20 years ago. This is what bothers me about the emphasis on gaits in scoring - all else equal, the better mover should win, absolutely, but when the culture starts to equate dressage with fancy movers only, local trainers start to assume their students who don't have a 5-figure horse are not capable of getting past 1st level just because their horse does not look like "a dressage horse". It happens. It has happened to me.

                                IME, it's been the biggest BNTs I've ridden with or audited who have been the most direct and honest about "here's what's hard for this horse b/c of his build, here's what to do to get more out of him, don't assume you are stuck where you are - ask for more." Point being, that is the message that I would like to see percolate down from the upper echelons of the sport, not the message that dressage = fancy (see e.g. magazine covers of young horse championships etc), or that the "right" way to do dressage is to move up the levels rapidly on a made horse. As much fun and as satisfying as that sounds, it is not realistic for a lot of people who *are* committed and serious and dedicated and invested in this sport, but who are on a different path and/or have a different budget.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  At the end of the day I think it shall always come down to what your goals are.

                                  If if someone’s goal is to be on the Olympic team: rightly or wrongly, this is going to be very expensive. Likewise, if someone’s goal is to do one of the marquee national shows, odds are high that they are going to face a high price tag on that show. There are always stories of people who figure out how to do it for less, but I tend to consider these the exception and not the rule.

                                  However, there are a number of goals that don’t carry those financial expectations.

                                  I showed my eventing reject in dressage at the Lamplight show series for years. My first show was under an internationally rated judge (Linda Zang) and I had only been riding in a dressage saddle for a week (had always used my jump saddle in the event of dressage phases). She was very kind. I scored very competitively in a large class - and I believe at that show, I actually did win a class or two I was in. This was on an OTTB gelding with a cheap dressage saddle and with a trainer who just emphasised the proper foundations of riding, not “A Dressage Exclusive” for lack of a better description.

                                  That same trainer showed at the same shows I did, also with an OTTB she picked up for free to event (though a broken sesamoid kept him from jumping, so they refocused on dressage). She was fairly judged, scored well, and won classes through fourth level.

                                  So so is there rarified air in dressage.... yes. But if you say you want to “do” dressage and take an honest look at your horse and your finances, there is room for w everyone in this sport to thrive and excel

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Edre View Post
                                    But if you say you want to “do” dressage and take an honest look at your horse and your finances, there is room for w everyone in this sport to thrive and excel
                                    I think there needs to be some clarification about what is meant by thriving and excelling. What is true is that most people have easy, affordable access to local trainers with credentials through about 4th level. What is also true is that these trainers can not regularly get their students past 1st level, and possibly even past training. So if "thrive and excel" means have fun locally in the sport and have fun at the lowest levels, yes, anyone can do that. There is *plenty* to learn and enjoy even at the lowest levels. Many people can and do for years and years.

                                    To go further than that - showing or not, you probably should be looking for instruction from someone who has shown above PSG on horses they have made (at least somewhat) themselves. Accessibility of such a person - both in terms of time/location and money - becomes much more challenging. I am working out for myself right now what my options are for getting this kind of instruction, and probably all of them require twice as much time and/or money than what I'm currently spending. And, since I'm not about to spend winters in FL, with several options I'm considering, I would lose my instructor for 3-4 months out of the year anyway.

                                    The thing I fear is that the gap between the entry level into the sport and literally everything else is widening, and every year it widens a bit faster.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by strangewings View Post

                                      I think there needs to be some clarification about what is meant by thriving and excelling. What is true is that most people have easy, affordable access to local trainers with credentials through about 4th level. What is also true is that these trainers can not regularly get their students past 1st level, and possibly even past training. So if "thrive and excel" means have fun locally in the sport and have fun at the lowest levels, yes, anyone can do that. There is *plenty* to learn and enjoy even at the lowest levels. Many people can and do for years and years.

                                      To go further than that - showing or not, you probably should be looking for instruction from someone who has shown above PSG on horses they have made (at least somewhat) themselves. Accessibility of such a person - both in terms of time/location and money - becomes much more challenging. I am working out for myself right now what my options are for getting this kind of instruction, and probably all of them require twice as much time and/or money than what I'm currently spending. And, since I'm not about to spend winters in FL, with several options I'm considering, I would lose my instructor for 3-4 months out of the year anyway.

                                      The thing I fear is that the gap between the entry level into the sport and literally everything else is widening, and every year it widens a bit faster.
                                      This is why I love my barn / trainer. She has a proven track record of getting her students through the levels - all the way through. She will try everything she can but if your horse legitimately won’t make it past Third Level, she’ll give you the honest truth. On the flip side, she will dedicate her heart and soul to getting each student and horse as high up the levels as they are willing and able to go, without once suggesting a student needs a “better” or “fancier” horse.

                                      There are currently 3 draft crosses in our barn trained by her to FEI levels, 2 of them to GP. The rest are an assortment of Iberians, locally bred warmbloods, a couple of imported warmbloods, a Cheval Canadien, a pony and an OTTB. All successful, all moving up consistently every year, often winning classes, often winning local championships.

                                      None of us are going to the Olympics and none of us, including our trainer, pack up and move to Wellington for the winter. But we are all definitely “doing”’dressage, thriving and excelling.

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                                      • #20
                                        BigMama1, that sounds wonderful! How far do you have to commute?

                                        The best situation I've been in in the US was boarding at a barn that brought in GP clinicians once a month, some were BNTs, more were only locally/regionally known, but they came several times a year, consecutive months sometimes, so you got a lot of access to consistently good feedback, good information, and diverse perspectives. Where I am now, I think the closest barn to me that does something like this is 2 hours away

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