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Hunter/Jumper Trainer to Dressage Trainer

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  • #21
    I am looking for a protocol of some type as how to direct the lesson so it feels like a Dressage lesson. QUOTE]

    I teach to the Training Scale. Where is the horse on the TS and where is the rider. Then work on developing both the horse and rider. Rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness, collection.

    I use the appropriate exercises to develop whatever the pair need to confirm.

    With novices you are mostly working on Rhythm and suppleness. So, circles, serpentines, changes of bend etc etc. Make sure the circles are perfect circles, that the horse is straight, spiral in a little, spiral out a little, no changes in rhythm, getting used to inside leg to outside rein, no counter bending! I see a lot of counter bent HJ horses.

    I think the challenge for someone changing from HJ to Dressage is in the seat. The longer someone has riden HJ the more confirmed that muscle memory, so the harder it is to reeducate those muscles.


    • #22
      Get yourself to a dressage coach. A GOOD one. And learn as much as you can.

      I have ridden with 2 hunter/jumper people who are far better at teaching the 'dressage' than 80% of the 'dressage' types. I competed successfully through 2nd level by training with one h/j trainer. When it came time to move on she suggested the trainer I ride with now.

      But both of these people studied and trained with top dressage people all along their careers. In addition to top h/j trainers.

      Both these trainers understood about riding back to front. About throughness. About connection. Understood the training scale.

      Then I watched a Frank Madden clinic the first of December. And HE taught as good a dressage lesson (working all the riders on the flat) as I have seen.

      Good luck in your efforts. Study, study, study.


      • #23
        I'm not a professional but started off riding hunters and switched to dressage about 10 years ago. You might have a much better foundation to start off than I did but it was a hard transition to make. Your seat and position is what is most important in dressage and it isn't easy to just make the switch. Too many hunter riders that have had no exposure to dressage think that it is just a matter of a "head set" and riding a pattern and that's it.

        My advice is to take a few dressage lessons with the best dressage instructor you can find. Figure out where you are before you start teaching other people. If you have the good foundation you say you have, then it shouldn't be too difficult. Read as much as you can and rent some videos. I like Kyra Ks videos and books but there are quite a few good ones out there.


        • #24
          What a loaded question.

          I guess it depends on what sort of a hunter/jumper rider and instructor you are. Nowadays I'm used to hunters going around the ring with their riders in 2-point, their horse's head pointing to the outside of the ring and they're all falling in on their shoulder. Horrid, no leg on the horse, reins slopping all over the place and no driving into the bit...crappy horsemanship.

          Dressage is in just as bad a shape...over-flexed horses pretending they're collected, and only bending their neck horridly while shortening up as if they're in a box, tail swishing, no freedom, riding only using hands not legs. Horrible riding due to "bucket" saddles forcing the rider into an uncomfortable gyration so the girls won't be grinding their crotches into the pommels (part due to saddle design, part due to not buying a large enough saddle...a hint, if your bucket saddle is comfortable only when riding uphill...your saddle doesn't fit).

          I've competed in both and I've taught both (upper level hunter/jumper..lower level dressage) and used the skills and knowledge gained from some wonderful instructors (Gunnar Ostergaard and Von Newman-Cosel for dressage)...it's not fair to be only one lesson ahead of your students and still charge for the lesson. Basically, good riding is good riding...your hunter riders should be sitting pretty close to a classic dressage seat. A deep seat is secure for jumping or dressage, I fox hunt in a Passier Westphalia dressage saddle (old school flat dressage saddle).

          Audit some good dressage clinics, see if you can see the rider's problems and if your solution matches the clinician's. If you've got "the eye" for dressage, you can at least help your students with lower level stuff.
          "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


          • #25
            BTW you dont need a BNT I find sometimes the best instructor /trainers are the ones who are not BNT but have taken the time to learn/ride/teach and train properly. MY instructor is not a BNT here , he was in his time in Europe , but he is as good if not better thwn most BNT's.


            • #26
              My regular (i.e. non-clinician) instructor is a convert. She road and taught for decades H/J. She still does teach some. But now she competes and mainly teaches dressage. The hardest thing, by far, for her was changing her seat. I've heard her lament on it many times!!

              She only recently started doing clinics with really BNT (has a horse for it now). I think you can learn a great deal from more "regional" trainers who themselves are doing FEI levels. Especially if both of you are willing to go back to seat and do lunge lessons (I can only speak to what I've seen work for her). She also found a wonderful GP schoolmaster to work with. . . that helped beause he only does the movement if you cue 100% correct!

              If I were you, it would be nice if you can go elsewhere or time your own instruction so your students aren't watching you get torn apart by another instructor.
              DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


              • #27
                Is there any way you can audit the USDF's "L" training program? Seems like that would give you a wealth of information and help immerse you in the dressage ambience.
                ...somewhere between the talent and the potato....


                • #28
                  Originally posted by pixie View Post
                  What does the typical adult Dressage/training rider do in the course of a Dressage lesson?
                  No offense, but I feel that this question in and of itself is one that someone with a fundamental understanding of Dressage (a definite prerequisite for a Dressage instructor) would not have to ask! From the USDF website: "Dressage is a French term meaning “training” and its purpose is to develop the horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to work making him calm, supple and attentive to his rider." The tests and the movements can be done by tense, stiff, unsupple horses...That is NOT dressage! With that said, typical lessons involve a lot of work on the rider's seat and use of the aids and using various schooling excercises to develop the horse by working up the training scale.

                  Originally posted by pixie View Post
                  I myself have trained with some pretty well known Dressage Riders/Trainers back in college and have performed alot of the upper level movements on well trained horses.
                  I have seen riders barely able to post do upper level movements on school masters. An instructor needs to understand and explain how to develop a horse to the point that it can perform these movements, or, in the case of a lower level instructor, how to set the proper foundation for this development.

                  I don't mean to be harsh, but those of us who try to do dressage correctly, whatever the level, have run across people from other disciplines who look at the lower level tests and say, "Oh, all you have to do is WTC and some circles? My horse can do that," or as seen on a recent YouTube video of a sale horse, a stiff young horse running on the forehand behind-the-vertical doing "haunches-in" on 4-trqcks with no bend, advertised as doing/ready for 1st/2nd level. There is a lot more than that to dressage, and it involves a lot of knowledge and hard, correct work.

                  That said, there are many good resources on the web (USDF, Jane Savoie's Dressage Mentor, etc) and books for you to start your learning process. I wouldn't put yourself out as a Dressage instructor until you have worked with a good instructor yourself and perhaps done some competing, but I don't see why you can't share your growing knowledge - through reading, videos, lessons, etc. - with your 3 students. Then try to arrange periodic clinics with a good dressage clinician for you and your students to make sure that you are on the right path. I worked with an instructor who was an FEI rider in her own right do this with her own trainer.

                  Good luck. If nobody else does I can post some links to dressage sites or give you some book titles later.


                  • #29
                    A math teacher pick up a history class because he reads about the civil war:
                    Is he capable of teaching? Yes.
                    If he familiar with history? Yes.
                    Has he studied math at the college level and taken teachers exams, showing that he has mastered high school math and can teach it? Yes.
                    Is he just as qualified to teach history, because he reads books and went to some lectures? Maybe no, maybe yes.
                    Do his students know if he is? Probably not.
                    Would history teachers know? Yes.
                    It doesn't mean you can't teach both, but it is probably wise to confirm with a qualified professional that you have comprehensive knowledge of the new subject. Similarly, OP can do this by checking in with her own dressage teacher, training horses up through levels and successfully showing them and/or passing USDF Instructor's Certification.

                    I am worried that some of the posts seem to be encouraging OP to watch dressage trainers and judge for herself if she is capable of doing the same. I am sure she knows that arm chair teaching is very different than being in the middle of the ring, but I wanted to point this out in case others reading this thread get the impression that agreeing with a instructor's comments and reading books is enough to be qualified to teach any discipline, without professional feedback of some kind.
                    Last edited by CapitolDesign; Jan. 16, 2009, 08:17 AM.


                    • #30
                      Capital Design, the OP appears to be a knowledgeable and intelligent horsewoman, presumably with a 'teacher's eye'. Watching trainers and riders of all abilities and accomplishments will fine tune that eye for what is correct, what isn't and what is so-so. Observation is an important part of education, along with ridden instruction, reading and training. All promote a wide repertoire of techniques and exercises to apply to students and horses alike.

                      Obviously, if she was inexperienced as a horseperson, simply watching is not necessarily going to help her develop her own priorities re dressage training!

                      It appears she is cognizant of fundamental concepts of all good riding and can apply them in her principle discipline.

                      Practicing and teaching sound dressage principles is not something available to only a select few. To view it as such is pretentious, IMO, and counterproductive to those wishing to be the best they can be for their horses' sakes.
                      Form follows function, or does function follow form?




                      • Original Poster

                        Thank you BOO, that was very well stated!

                        Let me clarify that I am confident in my abilities to train and teach Dressage. In my chosen discipline I have a proven and effective training program that developes riders and horses confidently and correctly. It is the result of over 30 years of watching, listening, doing and the endless pursuit of striving for excellence. I have incorporated Dressage training and teaching all along. I just don't call myself a Dressage Trainer because that is not my specialty. But what I have come to realize is that I do have a gift to teach Dressage.

                        I don't have 30 years left in me to develop a program through the above stated traditional means. I am looking for pro Dressage Trainers to throw me some of their insights so my students "feel" like they are riding Dressage officially even though they have been doing it all along.


                        • #32
                          According to your last post- I would 'live' on youtube for a while and look at all videos and training videos that are available for you to review from famous to almost famous dressage riders.
                          I would possibly subscribe to one of the dressagetraining video channels- it's like 40$ a month and its amazing what you can learn when you take the time to meticulously watch and listen.
                          Ideally go take a month off and sign up with a fave dressage rider/competitor as a working student/shadow. Ideally that could work if you have someone close enough to your homebase where you could develop a long term relationship.
                          Dressage is -once you can ride and use every part of your body on command and correctly and in many nuances of finesse- more or less a game of harmony, beauty and rythmn...a lot like ballet. If this turns you on- and if the ultimate quiet and peace that exists when a horse and a rider work well together- the seamless dance and complete understanding they demonstrate- if that makes you happy- then...it's about time you get over here and do your thing!! As you get older - it's a divine sport and immensely rewarding and endlessly always demanding more of you and the horse...
                          "the man mite be the head but the woman is the neck and the neck can turn the head any way she wants..." -smart greek woman


                          • #33
                            Any good advice or things to read that I absolutly must have?
                            Take lessons from a really good dressage instructor yourself!
                            Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger


                            • #34
                              I am looking for pro Dressage Trainers to throw me some of their insights so my students "feel" like they are riding Dressage officially even though they have been doing it all along.


                              • #35
                                Can you give us a sample lesson you teach, with exercised/figures and goals for the day, so we know how it differs from a "dressage lesson". Then we can give better feedback on what you can adjust.
                                Last edited by CapitolDesign; Jan. 16, 2009, 08:21 AM.


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by pixie View Post
                                  I have been in the Hunter/Jumper Industry for more than 3 decades. I have interest from several adult students that want to convert to Dressage and keep training with me. My question is for any Dressage Trainers that used to teach (or still do) Hunter/Jumpers: What are the biggest obstacles I will face as a starter-up Dressage Trainer in doing this? Any good advice or things to read that I absolutly must have? These 3 riders already can keep their horses on the aids most of the time, they can all perform leg yields, shoulder-in, turn on haunches/forehand, circles/sepentines, lengthenings/shortenings, half-halts...
                                  I have the dressage letters and I will get the tests and learn the rules.

                                  What else? What does the typical adult Dressage/training rider do in the course of a Dressage lesson? I myself have trained with some pretty well known Dressage Riders/Trainers back in college and have performed alot of the upper level movements on well trained horses. Who knows if this takes off I may be trading in my Dutch/cross Hunter for a Dressage Horse! I am assuming I will need to train/compete Dressage myself to be taken seriously by new clientelle.
                                  USDF has a list of recommended reading for instructors and that is a good list to start your library.

                                  I agree, take some lessons with a good upper level rider.

                                  Sign up for Jan Savoie's monthly newsletter. she also has some clips on Youtube.

                                  In the end you may recommend that your students would be better off with an expereinced dressage rider for the dressage portion of the program...or maybe not - but these are some resources.