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Does American Dressage Have an Obesity/Fitness Problem?

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  • Does American Dressage Have an Obesity/Fitness Problem?

    I had an Aussie event rider acquaintance return from a recognized dressage show ranting about the number of unfit and overweight American riders he saw. Not long ago, I had a European trainer tell me the same thing. Do we need to notify Michelle Obama that American dressage has an obesity problem? How does American dressage stack up to Europe and other countries in terms of rider fitness? Would love to hear viewpoints from those outside the U.S.
    Last edited by Mike Matson; May. 31, 2011, 09:33 PM.
    "No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." - Laurence Olivier

  • #2
    I think this is true to some extent. Obviously, not everyone is overweight in dressage, but there definitely are some uh... Heftier riders out there. Perhaps the mentality that dressage is a sport and therefore we are receiving all of the conditioning we need from riding is contributing to this issue.
    And this is the story of your red right ankle.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'd be surprised if there wasn't an obesity or unfit epidemic in dressage in the USA.
      It's an epidemic in all other areas, why not dressage?

      Other countries don't have this issue, not at epidemic levels. And especially not in sports. And of course there isn't any obesity in some countries. Lack of food ensures that and they seem to be oddly lacking in all of the disorders that cause much of it here.

      Also in most riding disciplines...the vast majority of the riders aren't doing the riding as an actual sport but as a hobby. Which is perfectly understandable, not everyone has the time, inclination or income to make riding into a serious sport.

      I do subscribe to the theory though that if you want to keep advancing, then at some point you have to take your own fitness to the level you demand of your horse and to the level appropriate to the sport.

      But this thread will probably start a whole "not fair" "big meany pants" "you're a fatist" argument anyway.
      You jump in the saddle,
      Hold onto the bridle!
      Jump in the line!
      ...Belefonte

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        I'd be surprised if there wasn't an obesity or unfit epidemic in dressage in the USA.

        It's an epidemic in all other areas, why not dressage?
        Good point.
        "No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." - Laurence Olivier

        Comment


        • #5
          Well, I am exhausted after my piddly beginning dressage lessons. I don't know how upper level riders can't be fit. But I suppose it gets easier once you figure out what you are doing .

          Comment


          • #6
            Yes. To help rid "Dressage" of this embarrassing image problem I think I'll take my disposable income and buy a fricking reining horse.
            Last edited by Fallbrook; May. 31, 2011, 10:08 PM. Reason: My 700 calorie diet makes me grouchy
            It's all fun and games until someone pulls a shoe....

            Comment


            • #7
              Oh geez, anyone would be grouchy on that diet Fallbrook.

              Reining is actually fun as hell! And confusing. Talk about a "culture" shock learning the cues and aides, LOL!

              One of my two horses has some level of reining training (not sure how much since I don't knnow much) and we've had some hilarious "wtf" moments together.

              But I throw in a bunch of extraneous Yeehaws and Yahoos anyway.
              You jump in the saddle,
              Hold onto the bridle!
              Jump in the line!
              ...Belefonte

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              • #8
                Enough already


                http://www.abestweb.com/smilies/beat_deadhorse.gif
                "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” – Barry Switzer

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Houston - we have no problem.
                  "No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." - Laurence Olivier

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Oh please! The heaviest riders I have ever seen are in the western pleasure classes where the horses are barely moving

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      OK, I am just going to say up front that I am probably going to be flamed, but...

                      I understand being "defensive" when discussions come up about weight. I need to loose the 20+lbs I gained the last two years eating with abandon and it is not going to be as easy now that I am in my 40's. I find it important to have these discussions. It helps me keep on track with my weight watchers points. I know I am "schlubby" and not as fit as I need to be....I am sure anyone overweight KNOWS they are overweight. Instead of taking offense at these threads I use it as a slap in the face of reality.

                      It is impossible to be as fit, as athletic, as nimble, as healthy as one can be being 20lbs, 40lbs, or more overweight. Granted I know my body type will never look like Cindy Crawford, but that is not my goal. I want to FEEL good and not be predisposed to diabetes, high blood pressure, not have fat rolls hanging over my waistband, and be able to stretch my leg long down the side of my saddle and not have fat in the way!!

                      I don't aspire to ride in the olympics, or even FEI levels, but I DO want to be an athetic rider and that requires getting my body back into a more fit/ tone/ thinner self. I think it is fair to call us overweight Americans because WE ARE overweight Americans (myself included). And I am on the forefront of leading the charge of trying to change that!! I don't get defensive trying to convince others and myself that these types of comments and threads are out of line.

                      So bring it on...keep me motivated!!
                      Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:
                      http://blumefarm.com/hannoveranercourse2011.html
                      http://blumefarm.com/hannoveranercourse2012.html

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yes, America as a whole has a fitness problem. Too much food and not enough exercise. Too many conveniences and not enough opportunity and/or gumption to get out and sweat. Most folks don't have to sweat on a daily basis so, when they eat a normal meal, they have no easy way of losing the excess calories.

                        I'm 57 and it's hard, at this age to lose weight unless I go outside, work hard and sweat it off. If I didn't have a farm and very little help, I'm sure I would be pretty over weight. I'm not a big eater but boy, does my waistline expand when I don't or can't get out and work. Every winter I gain weight. I can do the same work as in summer but the fact that it's cold out and I'm not sweating has a big affect on my waistline.

                        I still would like to lose another 10lbs. The thinner I am, the better my balance is. Riding is much easier on me and the horse too. I really don't think it's the eating, unless a person eats to excess; I think it's the lack of hard exercise and sweating that makes us fat. That's just my own personal theory, though. I have no science to back that up with.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I thought this was going to be about the horses, and I was going to respond with an emphatic YES! It seems like folks want their horses to get fit and learn more on 3-4 rides a week, and they overfeed them on top of that.

                          With lower level aspirations only, if the horse has the temperament for it - that's ok, as long as the horse isn't heavy to where it's a health risk.


                          As for riders? I don't think so. I agree dressage isn't treated as a sport by many people. And for those who want to stay at the lower levels, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I haven't had any sense of FEI riders who are too heavy as a common problem, but we don't have that many here, really. Maybe in Florida or California I would feel differently.

                          So to me, the weight situation matters as a reflection of society, not dressage riders. I think most riders are aware of their personal fitness needs, whatever the body shape that gets them there, if they are moving up the levels.
                          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.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            I would like to thank those posters who responded personally about their situation and viewpoint concerning this topic. That's not always an easy think to do on a public forum.
                            "No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." - Laurence Olivier

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by manesntails View Post
                              Yes, America as a whole has a fitness problem. Too much food and not enough exercise. Too many conveniences and not enough opportunity and/or gumption to get out and sweat. Most folks don't have to sweat on a daily basis so, when they eat a normal meal, they have no easy way of losing the excess calories.
                              I think this is pretty true.

                              I try to keep my weight at a decent level out of respect for my horse. It's not fair to her for me to ask her to cart my extra pounds around.

                              My primary discipline is eventing, but I happen to enjoy dressage so we do go to dressage shows as well. However, I have a greenbean, so I can get way (for now) with soft beige breeches.

                              Wearing white breeches is enough to scare me into not gaining weight!
                              Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!
                              http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e350/Jen4USC/fave.jpg
                              http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e3...SC/running.jpg

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by manesntails View Post
                                Yes, America as a whole has a fitness problem. Too much food and not enough exercise. Too many conveniences and not enough opportunity and/or gumption to get out and sweat. Most folks don't have to sweat on a daily basis so, when they eat a normal meal, they have no easy way of losing the excess calories.
                                LOL, "normal" meal? Try a meal that could feed 2-3 people! Oh wait, is that the new normal? You're so right. It's just too easy to go to work, sit at your desk for 8+ hours, come home, plop on the couch while eating dinner and watch tv until it's time for bed

                                Yes, Americans ARE too fat in general. It's no secret. As of 3 years ago (though I think there was another set of numbers released last year but it didn't pop up quickly) the % of *obese* Americans was 34%. Another 34% were overweight but not yet obese. That's 64% of us who are overweight and beyond. It's disgusting.

                                This gets discussed, pretty heatily, about once a year on the H/J forum LOL But I think that's because it's such an image-related sport, with George Morris being pretty outspoken about what fitness means in terms of riding. Is there someone like that on the Dressage side? I can't say I've heard of someone being that vocal about it.
                                ______________________________
                                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by magnetse
                                  eagerly waiting for new jobs. thanks
                                  You're fired!
                                  "No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." - Laurence Olivier

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by netg View Post
                                    I thought this was going to be about the horses, and I was going to respond with an emphatic YES! It seems like folks want their horses to get fit and learn more on 3-4 rides a week, and they overfeed them on top of that.
                                    I second that, and I think it goes for all disciplines. I have rarely been in a barn with actual FIT horses, even the working horses. Most of them are full of beer barrels with legs. It drives me nuts; I saw Mom's "skinny horse" a few weeks ago who looks great since she lost weight over the winter. The woman isn't happy unless her should-be-sleek saddlebred looks like an over-sized Shetland pony.
                                    Visit my Spoonflower shop

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I haven't spent time studying the fat and fitness of European riders, but I think it's safe to say America does have a significant amount of riders in all disciplines that are either too fluffy, or unfit to be as effective as a fit trained athlete. I was talking to an upper level event rider turned upper level dressage rider a while back who remarked so many riders are unfit to the point of it being dangerous, especially on cross country.

                                      Yes, yes, I know we are mostly ammy's doing our best with 50 hour work weeks, commutes, budgets, kids husbands, etc.... that's no different from the rest of the world.

                                      I'm technically an ammy, have a demanding career and child free family, and I manage to take care of my horse's fitness and mine. I wake up at 5:30am so I can get both a 90 minute dressage ride, and a 15 mile bike ride in before work. It's amazing what even 5lbs of fluff does to your riding.

                                      Here's another indicator. Most breeches in the states start at size 28 and go up to 36, 38. When I order breeches from Europe they start at 24 and max out at around 30 32. Despite being 16% body fat, Europe's standards would probably consider 28-30 me a fatass.
                                      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                      chaque pas est fait ensemble

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by JB View Post
                                        This gets discussed, pretty heatily, about once a year on the H/J forum LOL But I think that's because it's such an image-related sport, with George Morris being pretty outspoken about what fitness means in terms of riding. Is there someone like that on the Dressage side? I can't say I've heard of someone being that vocal about it.
                                        Thankfully, no.
                                        Thin may or may not be healthier but does not necessarily mean the person is fit.

                                        He doesn't like jointed stirrups either. Oh well
                                        I wasn't always a Smurf
                                        Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                                        "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                        The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

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