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If you switched to dressage from H/J, did you do it on the same horse?

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    If you switched to dressage from H/J, did you do it on the same horse?

    I know dressage is a second (third? fifth?) discipline for a lot of folks, especially on the adult-ammy universe. If you came from H/J land, did you bring your horse with you, or look for something more experienced (dare I say schoolmaster-y) to help you in the transition? I imagine this varies some by trainer as much as by individual circumstance; did your new trainer have strong views on the subject?


    My OTTB (never raced, worked as a Pony Horse) was bought when I was into H/J.
    We did pretty well on the local circuit - even ended up with 1 EOY award - so when I left the H/J Show barn & switched to Dressage he came along "for the ride"

    We were schooling 3rd when I quit taking lessons with any degree of seriousness.
    My trainer at the time had Zero ego - he had ridden Hunters, Jumpers, Evented, went to college in Germany & discovered Dressage & was happy to school me in all the disciplines mentioned.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


      I also came from hunters to dressage on the same horse. I actually dabbled back and forth for a bit and the dressage really helped me with the hunters.


        I made the jump without a horse. My jumper was basically retired, and my other jumper was on lease and was having some physical issues that ultimately led his owner and I to decide he needed to go back and step down.

        I took a few lessons, then signed up for a half lease on a schoolmaster for the winter (expecting to go back to the jumpers in the spring when my trainer returned from Florida, with some new flatwork skills to show off). I never left.


          It was my horse that led me to dressage, actually. I had purchased him as a young horse to do the hunters with, and he was quite successful. Later we did adult eq because I got bored with the whole inside/outside/inside/outside thing (this was before there were derbies, which I think I would have really liked.)

          Anyway, I became somewhat disillusioned with a number of aspects of H/J land, and when he had a "bad farrier experience" that messed up his feet and I was told it would be best for him not to jump anymore, I switched to dressage for something to do. He very quickly moved up to third level and much to my surprise, I had a blast and absolutely fell in love with the discipline.

          Since then I have purchased two purpose-bred dressage horses (both as youngsters) to bring along and am having a blast. My hunter-turned-dressage horse is semi retired and living the good life in my backyard. Someday I would like to buy a schoolmaster, but right now I have a lot more work to do to build the basics needed to prepare for more sophisticated work.
          Attached Files
          We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


            Same horse, kind of! I bought a KWPN baby with great hunter/jumper lines, but ended up getting into dressage by the time she was started. It's actually worked out great, though this is her (and my) first year doing dressage. I've brought along quite a number of youngsters, and it isn't that different. We've had a very successful show season, all scores in the high 60's/low 70s. My trainer is very supportive and does some of the riding, both to keep her in a steady program (some days with work and farm and kids I just can't get a ride in) and to make sure I am doing it right!

            I am sure it would be easier on a made horse, but so far so good. She's a lovely and correct mover but also her gaits are rideable, perfect for the adult amateur. She gets 7s or 8s on gaits, so her non-dressage breeding isn't holding her back. She's a little less naturally uphill than a typical high end dressage-bred baby, but I can sit her trot without ruining my or her back, and that is worth a LOT as I have a pretty bad back and was worried that I wouldn't be able to do much sitting trot physically.


              My USHJA green horse is on a COVID-19 waiver for the year and we transitioned to dressage shows in April. We'd started some limited dressage training back in Feb to help improve his topline. He's definitely a hunter and moves like one, but my trainer took him out at First Level and he's had a great year even though his main focus has still been hunter training (he only gets 2 dressage rides per week and the rest is focused on his FT hunter job). His median score is 65.8 after 8 tests and no prior experience, very limited training, so it's entirely doable. He is in another state so I lesson at home from time to time on a schoolmaster. I highly recommend doing this if you plan to bring your hunter along - the schoolmaster will tattle on everything you are doing wrong (as it will do exactly what you ask) and you will learn much more quickly.

              I find the dressage shows to be so much more civilized than hunter shows. It helps to have designated ride times and I've truly enjoyed being able to go to lunch or back to the hotel to nap or rest, which is not possible at hunter shows as you just never know when the classes will go. Even the bathrooms are cleaner (if you don't believe me, go from WEF to Global and you will see what I mean). I love how there are no braiders and grooms and extra people - you look after your own horse and the riders just seem so much more connected to the horse. It's also significantly less expensive since the shows are 2 days vs 5 and you have a limit for class entries.

              Getting feedback from the judges has been extremely helpful and it's fun to know exactly where you scored well (or not!) and where you need to place your focus for improvement.

              Depending on your horse's breed, you can also enroll in all-breeds which allows you a chance to be compared with other horses of the same breed, which levels the playing field a bit. I wish USHJA did this!

              It will be hard to return to USHJA in December!

              Best of luck in whatever direction you decide to go!


                I backed down a hunter mare from over fences to dressage in the interest of trying to keep her sound - and frankly I was bored w/ hunters. Her career didn't last more than about a year as she didn't stay sound. Then found myself an awesome off-breed schoolmaster, a saint of a TB got me my bronze and 1/2 of my silver.


                  back in the day when I showed hunter 1st year green was 3'6, 2nd year green was 3'9. We did very well at 3,6 but I didn't think we could do the 2nd consistently so I switched to "flat work". I did work with a dressage trainer and we managed to show successfully to what was then called Medium. He wasn't built ideally for dressage, a bit downhill, neck set on a bit low but we qualified for the Provincial Championship. We did well because of accuracy, not brilliance. I had owned him since he was a weanling, backed him myself and even foxhunted. I knew that we would be at the bottom of the heap at the Championship show competing against a lot of warmbloods so didn't attend the final show.

                  I was really pleased with our achievements to this point. I did continue training with him with a new coach. We managed a fair halfpass and flying changes but he broke down while our trainer pushed us beyond his physical ability, working on walk/canter transitions on 6 meter circle in preparation for canter pirouettes. His stifle gave out and he was never the same.

                  It was actually the famous Walter Zettle who screamed at me because my horse freaked out (his stifle was stuck) stating my horse had a discipline problem. This was out of character for my horse who could actually read my mind. Long story short Walter and I never spoke again.

                  I did have a devastating experience trying to ride a Grand Prix Schoolmaster who pretended he didn't know I was on his back. I was so used to my horse who knew what I wanted before I even asked.


                    I moved to dressage BECAUSE of my horse.


                      Same here, I started in Dressage to improve my hunter. I could never afford a "dressage" horse and made do with green TBs and QH after my hunter retired.
                      certainly a journey might be easier and to your advantage to get a trained horse. If your hunter still has miles and value, then you could consider selling and getting a more purpose bred / trained horse. If you are already working with a trainer they may have insight. If your hunter needs to step down from jumping, then you could consider continuing the partnership under new tack

                      most of todays WB hunters are entirely able to retrain to desired dressage way of going.
                      -- * > hoopoe
                      Procrastinate NOW
                      Introverted Since 1957


                        Did super baby hunters with my young TB for a couple of years, he is very cute in the hunter ring, but I lost interest in that and wanted to event. We have been mostly doing dressage, sprinkled with a tiny bit of jumping, for about a year now. There has been much improvement for both of us, but we are green and it’s going to be a long journey.

                        I am sometimes a smidge jealous of my barnmates with schoolmasters, I do think it’s easier to learn dressage (which is really freaking hard lol) with a horse that already knows it’s job. But for me, I love this particular horse and I bought him for the journey. I will let him tell me what he’s interested in doing, and we’ll do that.


                          I made the switch to dressage with my AO jumper. We did both for about a year, and then made the full leap into dressage after discovering how much more affordable dressage shows were. I think we both miss jumping at times, but mix it up every few weeks with cavaletti work. We’re working at 3rd level this year and hope to move up to 4th next season.


                            I switched to dressage with the same horse. He is a Hanoverian out of Escudo II and did both dressage and show jumping in Germany. He can switch back and forth from hunters to dressage with ease up to 3rd level. He is 21 now, so does not jump anymore. It is great for me because all my lessons are on me. His lateral work is great. Half passes and leg yields are a breeze. I struggle with cantering in a dressage seat, because it takes more leg and core strength than just cruising around in a half seat.


                              Count me in as another her switched from hunter/jumpers to dressage on the same horse. I had a lovely TB (not off the track but sport horse bred) who despite being an elegant mover could not jump her way out of a paper bag. I switched to dressage and never looked back.
                              Ranch of Last Resort


                                I switched from eventing to dressage. Most my event horses were schooling solid third but as a professional switching disciplines I felt it would be smart to start a second career with a dressage type horse.

                                I sold my event horses and bought a 9yr old schooling third level. Put myself in weekly lessons with a good pro and was able to get my bronze and silver medals inside two years. He is a gem of a horse and is the chestnut in my profile pic.

                                He wasn’t the fanciest horse and he certainly was “cheap” due to all his jewelry that no one wanted to take a risk on. I took the risk and it paid off in spades... super generous and very trainable, he has helped a friend get her bronze and silver and another hunter pro get her third level scores. Currently on his way with another client to hopefully get her to third and if time and luck on their side to PSG again.

                                He has been a blessing to me and everyone who has been blessed to ride him.


                                  I see no reason why you should replace a decently educated hunter for a started at dressage from scratch horse.

                                  It is usually the rider who has to make the biggest adjustment, position, use of body, hands.

                                  Guyot is an event rider. Eventer dressage has a lot of rough edges, but they have already the ability to place themselves in the dressage saddle with ease.
                                  Last edited by merrygoround; Aug. 29, 2020, 10:04 AM.
                                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                                    I did. I had a big bay OTTB that was so beefy, everyone asked if he was a warmblood. He was quite a fancy mover, too. So I was riding him in the warmup ring at a H/J show, musing about my recent complete loss of nerve and how was I ever going to get him over a fence if I was this scared...when another rider rode up to me and said, "That horse is a spectacular mover! What a complete waste of a dressage horse!" You don't have to hit me with a brick. I agreed with her! I packed up my stuff, went home and started researching local dressage trainers. I never looked back. I trained that horse up from essentially training level to schooling 3rd. I did extremely well on him at shows. I had to sell him when my kids were born (so yes, this was nearly 30 years ago). I think it just depends on the horse. Some are good at one thing more than the other and can't make the transition. If your horse is a great hunter, sell him to someone who wants a hunter and get yourself a dressage horse.


                                      Another here who switched with the same horse! My mare wasn't purpose bred for any discipline... Hell, she wasn't bred on purpose! But I got her when we were both young and we have dabbled in all sorts of arenas. Dressage is the main focus now since I prefer it and she's getting old.


                                        Another here who switched because of my horse. Bought a young horse with the idea of low eventing and the poor thing couldn't jump her way out of a paper bag. Took me years to accept it but she made a darn nice dressage pony once we made the switch.