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When is it Dressage and When is it just flatwork

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  • When is it Dressage and When is it just flatwork

    I think the title says it all.

  • #2
    If I could decide how the world worked, all flatwork would be basic dressage, for all disciplines. Think training level/first level, getting rhythm, suppleness, balance.

    To me the actual difference in the two is your intention of how you want to continue. I don't care if you ever want to show, but if you don't want to increase levels of collection, get the horse to lift its front end, etc., I don't call it dressage. You may not REACH the upper levels in dressage even if you want, but if you want to improve and work toward the top of the training pyramid, and are doing your best (and that varies widely from one person to another) I think it's dressage.
    Originally posted by Silverbridge
    If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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    • #3
      A rider with true training in dressage is probably always doing basic dressage when doing flatwork. However, a lot of riders have never been taught true dressage basics - most likely because they've never ridden a dressage schoolmaster. I don't mean, in this case, an FEI type horse, but just that they've never ridden a horse that goes properly forward and round and light in the bridle when you use seat and leg properly. And, you can't learn it if you've never ridden a horse that rewards you for doing it right.
      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

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      • #4
        To the extent that "dressage" is "training", all flat work is dressage.

        But to me it is matter of intention.

        If I go on a trail ride focusing on balanced transitions, on the bit, and lateral work (e.g., legyield from one side of the trail to the other) it is dressage.

        If I go on a trail ride, working on strengthening my 2-point, it is not dressage.

        If I work in the ring, even if I am jumping, it almost always includes some dressage.
        Janet

        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Janet View Post
          To the extent that "dressage" is "training", all flat work is dressage.
          This.

          Hacking out is being a passenger, not really asking for anything other than walk, trot, canter and halt on a trail--without carrying how it looks, feels, etc.
          "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

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          • #6
            At Second Level, the beginnings of collection, dressage truly becomes Dressage as distinct from just basic flatwork applicable to all riding disciplines.
            "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

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            • #7
              But that's not a clarification the OP made, so the very general question is open to a very broad range on answers and interpretations. For me, every ride contains some aspect of dressage, regardless of what we're doing or the horse I'm on. Is it 'Dressage' or am I using the same interpretation that Janet is, well, that's not the question the OP asked.
              Different Times Equestrian Ventures at Hidden Spring Ranch
              www.DifferentTimesEquestrianVentures.com

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              • #8
                The question as posed presumes (incorrectly in my view) that "flatwork" is somehow inferior to "dressage". (When is it "just" flatwork?)

                The answer in my mind is this: Flatwork and Dressage are synonymous. Hunter people often call it "flatwork" and dressage people often call it "dressage"... but the bottom line is its the same thing. That doesn't mean it isn't often done poorly by both camps.

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                • #9
                  to me, the difference is where your passion lies.

                  May sound quirky, and make your eyes swirl in your head, but even approaching a 4' fence I'm riding dressage. Flatwork is for people who haven't been "awakened" in my book
                  www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                  chaque pas est fait ensemble

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Velvet View Post
                    This.

                    Hacking out is being a passenger, not really asking for anything other than walk, trot, canter and halt on a trail--without carrying how it looks, feels, etc.
                    There's lots of work that can be done hacking out, depending on where you are and what kind of trails. You could do some lateral work, transitions between and within gaits, etc. Every time you have contact with your horse you are training him to something.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by walktrot View Post
                      There's lots of work that can be done hacking out, depending on where you are and what kind of trails. You could do some lateral work, transitions between and within gaits, etc. Every time you have contact with your horse you are training him to something.
                      And having some solid dressage skills can save your bacon out on the trails ... leg yields keep knees from being smacked into trees, collection makes negotiating steep hills easier and safer, transitions keep you from running over the horse in front of you, etc. My trail-riding buddies get tired of me and my fairly frequent comments about dressage on the trails. But they will also acknowledge that I have far fewer 'incidents' with my horse than they do.

                      *star*
                      "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                      - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                        to me, the difference is where your passion lies.

                        May sound quirky, and make your eyes swirl in your head, but even approaching a 4' fence I'm riding dressage. Flatwork is for people who haven't been "awakened" in my book
                        Well, of course there is a lot to be said for that view. That is the European/military approach to learning to ride. I think that the United States Pony Club chapters also follow in that tradition.

                        A while back there was a long discussion about the invention of "hunt seat" riding by George Morris (he took the "forward seat" invented by the Italians to a new dimension.) If I remember correctly, GM stated basically that he used "hunt seat" to teach beginners, because the old military method was just too long and slow to hold a student's interest, particularly when they wanted to jump. So it was a lot quicker to just teach them to ride in half seat and stay out of the way of the horse. In the process, he created many riders who were truly just "passengers."

                        In my view, it is very telling to see the European grand prix jumpers warm up before their rounds as opposed to the American riders (with a very few exceptions all being in their 50s.) The European horses are all straight, round, on the bit and forward. The American horses....well, see for yourself sometime while they do their "flatwork."
                        Last edited by Eclectic Horseman; Mar. 7, 2011, 02:25 PM.
                        "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

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                        • #13
                          I think all flatwork that is done to develope the horse both physically and mentally is dressage!.....There are both flatwork and dressage being done that DO NOT fit that discription!
                          "Success comes in cans, not in cannots!"

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                          • #14
                            I was more or less taught that jumping is dressage with jumps thrown in the way. As far as I am concerned, any time I am riding (barring hacking on the buckle), I am doing dressage. Even doing conditioning/hill work (trotting or galloping), I want my horse to carry himself properly so his muscles get worked correctly. That's dressage.
                            Leap, and the net will appear

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                            • #15
                              Okay, so then I guess we've decided it's a term and only a term. It's "flatwork" in the US and it's "dressage" in France.
                              "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

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                              • #16
                                Having grown up as a hunter rider, I don't think most hunter riders do dressage for their flatwork. The best ones do some, because they have more exposure, and the jumper riders are more likely to do dressage than the hunter riders. Flatwork may include some figures, and some lateral work, and some changes of length of stride, but there's not emphasis on having the horse working from behind in the same way. There's an emphasis more on precision than on the active hind leg.

                                I don't mean this as a criticism, just that they are different.

                                Dressage riders, for example, don't expect a horse to canter from a walk until second level. You can't even do a baby flat class in hunters without this skill.

                                Hunters expect 4 year olds to have a reliable, flat, lead change. In dressage, it is not expected until third level.

                                In hunter equitation, a flat counter canter is fine, as long as the lead is obediently held. In dressage, that counter canter must have a great deal of expression from behind. A prizewinning eq rider will find that the work she wins with in the hunter equitation ring, while it may have the same name, will get 5's or 6's from a dressage judge.
                                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


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                                  Dressage riders, for example, don't expect a horse to canter from a walk until second level. You can't even do a baby flat class in hunters without this skill.

                                  Hunters expect 4 year olds to have a reliable, flat, lead change. In dressage, it is not expected until third level.
                                  Um, yeah, that's for SHOWING the level. That doesn't mean we don't do it earlier in their training. These are broad assumptions that we don't start these movements earlier in the horses life or training.

                                  Goes to show that the term "flatwork" can be applied in many ways. You are assuming it's only used for hunters. I believe the OP was not making that distinction, but rather thought in dressage work it could be called either one at different times, or that one was used for hacking and the other for more specfic training.
                                  "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Flatwork vs dressage, you can call it by different names but it's basically the same until you start to add in some collection. Then it changes. If it makes you feel better to call it dressage, fine, but I think the real dividing point comes with the beginning of collection and the horse starting to carry himself more from behind.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by betonbill View Post
                                      Flatwork vs dressage, you can call it by different names but it's basically the same until you start to add in some collection. Then it changes. If it makes you feel better to call it dressage, fine, but I think the real dividing point comes with the beginning of collection and the horse starting to carry himself more from behind.
                                      No, the term "dressage" is derived from "dresser" which means: to train or to drill. This is flatwork.

                                      Nowadays, we've taken it to mean something more, but that is the basic meaning and cannot be changed. It's what was written in the old dressage books. So to say specifically that it means something once collection has been added is incorrect.
                                      "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Velvet View Post
                                        Um, yeah, that's for SHOWING the level. That doesn't mean we don't do it earlier in their training. These are broad assumptions that we don't start these movements earlier in the horses life or training.

                                        Goes to show that the term "flatwork" can be applied in many ways. You are assuming it's only used for hunters. I believe the OP was not making that distinction, but rather thought in dressage work it could be called either one at different times, or that one was used for hacking and the other for more specfic training.
                                        Velvet, I've been competing in dressage for quite some time now, eventing too, and IME there are a lot of training level superstars out there scoring in the 70's that don't have a reliable walk-canter transition. Even young eventers sometimes go to their first event without a walk-canter. Not to mention the young horses competing in the Intro classes where they are not cantering at their first show.

                                        And that's fine. Those horses and riders are responding to the training scale and theory and competitive goals of the discipline.

                                        The three year old hunters that I've taken to their first flat class all had a reliable walk-canter in chaotic company, even the ones that were OTTB. They had lots of flatwork done with them but nothing I'd classify today as dressage. And they would not have scored very well in a training level dressage test - not round enough and not enough balance from behind.

                                        It's a different training strategy and a different perspective. I find elements of both Righter and Wronger than their counterpart.

                                        Just goes to show that while OP said that the title says it all, it really doesn't.
                                        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

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