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do you think dressage has improved/changed/declined in the last 30+ years? pics

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  • #21
    This is such a great question! I started riding dressage under Emmy Grant Temple in the mid-60s (though Emmy would have told you that we kids did not, could not, would not ever ride dressage )...most of you probably recall that Mr. Grant is the man credited with bringing dressage to America.

    We then rode under Tal Wait, who softened our hands and seats and introduced us to the book that would be my bible for years to come: Give Your Horse A Chance, by Col. D'Endrody. It was full of photographs like the first set originally posted. It always confused me, because our horses -- grade or breed -- never looked like that; their heads were never set on quite at that angle, nor did we seem to be working toward that angle. Tal looked for the stretched topline and graceful neck and soft throatlatch, so even our leggy foxhunting thoroughbreds looked more supple and through than those photographs, or at least we thought they did. "Your horse must reach for the bit from tail to nostril!" Tal would enjoin us.

    I remain confused, but look forward to the discussion on this forum. I shall pray for smooth tracks and kind, knowledgeable posts and repostes to avert trainwrecks.

    Sparrow

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    • #22
      fernie fox, i don't think you were riding in the olympics with podhajsky in the 1930's in germany and austria on specialized dressage horses, that's what i was talking about. those horses weren't shot at or played polo off of. they were often identified when they were first brought from the breeding farm to the training area, and taken OUT of military training and used for the teams. while they certainly went for a hack now and again, no one was going to take one of those horses out to battle and get it shot at. podhajsky had horses shot out from under him, but there were not, notably, nero and his other prize winning dressage horses. some of his horses had such bad feet that he used to cringe when having to hav ethem take the one obedience fence in the old tests - and NEVER jumped them at home to practice for it.

      we like to believe what we like to believe. we believe the old time dressage horses were out there playing polo, getting shot at and herding cattle? so be it. believe what you wish.

      different eras, different faults. depending on trends in training and horse types, you see different faults. you never see no faults, you never see all faults. you see some people with different faults than others. you see people and horses improve over time.

      i don't know why people HAVE to make one era all good or another era all bad. life is not a 1950's cowboys and indian show, where one group wears white hats and another black hats.

      slc
      Last edited by slc2; Jul. 25, 2006, 12:03 PM.

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      • #23
        to answer about the change seen in the B&W pics..... i guess for me those pics still make me feel good. they still inspire me..... because they still have the "feel" off the older pics....

        its the more modern "round" shortnecked hyperactive extreme dressage that i dont like. i watch rides and just have no emotioonal reaction except yuk. ...

        however if i watch riders from the past i do get very happy becuase they make my heart sing

        i think the change started around the 1980s for me. (guessing on the date)

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        • #24
          I don’t think the black and white photos listed show the finest examples of dressage work from the past. A number of the pictures in the collection of old photos show many of the same faults as the modern day competition horses, but in my opinion, what makes the work in the older photographs generally better is that the horses were unconstrained. At least the horses were free to use their necks as they needed to and could raise them into place and make the possibility of engaging the haunches feasible. Now if the work of Meixner, Watjen, Handler, Neindorff and the like had been included, the group of photos of modern work would more than pale in comparison from a standpoint of unconstraint, engagement, balance and emotional ease.

          The photos of Absinth and Wald from the b/w photo collection show more engagement (there is more coil in the loin and haunches and more weight carriage from behind) than any of the horses in the group of photos of modern horses. Generally, the modern horses in the group show more hollowness behind the saddle and the unbalanced neck positions add weight to the already overburdened forehand. Hollow backs and unbalanced posture make it impossible for the haunches to lift and carry to the degree of unconstrained horses. That’s how it looks to me.

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          • #25
            that's not how it looks to me. at all.

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            • #26
              I dont think you can honestly compare the photos of the horses now and today... There have been soooo many improvements in breeding that its near impossible.

              But we're talking the riding, not the horses to a point. Am I right? Well then its hard to compare that too because we now are (for the most part) riding animals bred for dressage.

              When I look at the older photos, it makes me think "harsh" for some reason. They look hard. Maybe its the black and white, I dont know, but they dont look easy. They look tight everywhere.

              My eyes dont see that with some of today's horses. I see power, I see flow and beauty. and yes, I am wearing my glasses, clear lenses and all.

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              • #27
                I disagree with you Tonja. What you are seeing and what I am seeing are apparently not the same thing. Some of the things you say about the modern horses are, in my opinion, actually more applicable to the "classical" horses.

                And I still say that if the photo of Wald was in color, it could pass for a modern photo.

                It's the even older photos, where the difference is most apparent.

                And I will grant that there are classical photos out there which are better than the ones posted in this thread, but there are worse ones also! And the same could be said for modern photos.

                slc is right, neither era is "all good" or "all bad", except sometimes on the internet. (wink)
                "No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." George Burns

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                • #28
                  It is the riding, not the horse that really counts. You can have an excellently bred steed that is not ridden or developed correctly and you will see bad Dressage. Not all riders, even upper level riders, are equally good.

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                  • #29
                    interesting post: this reminds me of the COTH article July 7, 2006 by George Morris, "Where Did We Come From? Where Are We Going?"


                    ****
                    EXCERPT: During the last year, I've experienced three events--a small indoor show in Germany (actually only a half-hour from Aachen), a clinic in St. Petersburg, Russia, and a clinic in Hungary--which made me not only appreciate, but actually worship, the principles of Caprilli, Santini, Chamberlain, Saumur, Gordon Wright, Jimmy Williams, Vladimir Littauer, Jack Le Goff, as well as other advocates of the forward seat more than ever.

                    Violating these precious principles not only makes for insecure, unbalanced, inefficient and ugly riding, but also for disturbed horses performing badly. It's usually the misinterpretation and/or exaggeration of a technique when things go badly astray.

                    Dressage, well done, can be a wonderful thing. Dressage, however, can be a risky venture for those who want to gallop and jump horses, especially the way it's practiced today with very long stirrups, loose lower legs, riders excessively behind the motion and horses over-collected and over-flexed. Littauer and others warned us 50 years ago of this possibility, and he was right.

                    ****

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                    • #30
                      Dressage may well have improved in the last 30+ years. But I've gone from liking it to feeling somewhat unsettled about it, based on what I see.

                      Some of the modern horses are lovely, though. I hate to see some of them reduced to navel gazing.
                      -- Member of the COTH Appendix QH clique and the dressage-saddle-thigh-block-hating clique.

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                      • #31
                        Navel gazing, star gazing.

                        So much for generalities.
                        "No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." George Burns

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                        • #32
                          well if we are talking about the riders and riding..... then i think that we must have more good riders nowadays becuase more people ride.

                          but we also have more horrid riders.

                          i think that at least here in the US, the fact that we dont really have any school and that theory and obtaining the proper seat are so poo poo'ed upon means that, for the most part, riders are not all they could be - altho yes US riders have improved.

                          but i think the focus of what is important has changed. i think it is important nowadays for horse to DO IT. no matter what. the rider has no responsibility. it doesnt matter if the rider has no seat - the horse MUST perform. and the goal of dressage seems to havbe changed... the int'l comps look more like gaited classes than dressage of yesteryear.

                          also riders have no experince (in general) doing anythign but dressage so they are scared to let go of the reins. so the horses get tighter and tighter in the neck. more and more constrained.

                          that is the biggiest difference i see - the contstraint and the balance (the bearing) .

                          and finally i want to say that this is kind of an unfair comparrison... we are looking at the top modern riders/horses and random pics from the past - we dont even know if they were thought of as good at the time the were taken. .....

                          it would be REALLY interesting to take images of the exact same moment for both modern and old pics... of what each "camp" (for lack of a better word) thought to be the best image... and compare those....

                          becuase some of the old images are not so good and i dont think it is fair to compare good modern images with bad old images. (does that make sense??)

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            [quote=merrygoround]
                            Originally posted by fernie fox

                            Right on fernie fox. Are you really from Fernie? We must belong to a different generation.
                            Merrygoround,not from Fernie Canada.

                            From Fernie Hunt Country In UK.

                            Too old to continue in this conversation.

                            But I did start my love of dressage, riding military owned horses in Malta GC. at a very young age,all the horses were stallions or mares,and played polo did whatever was required of them.

                            Some folks just dont seem to realize,dressage was ridden all over the world,not just in Germany.

                            We had a lady in UK who was riding grand prix into her 70s,many years ago.

                            Heck I cannot remember her name,she rode a cute chestnut horse.

                            Her horses always looked so "happy",unlike some of the tense,musclebound horses I see nowadays.
                            \"I have lived my life-it is nearly done-.I have played the game all round;But I freely admit that the best of my fun I owe it to Horse and Hound\".

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                            • #34
                              "but i think the focus of what is important has changed. i think it is important nowadays for horse to DO IT. no matter what. the rider has no responsibility. it doesnt matter if the rider has no seat - the horse MUST perform. and the goal of dressage seems to havbe changed... the int'l comps look more like gaited classes than dressage of yesteryear. "

                              This comment is pretty interesting too, going back to GMs article mentioned above he wrote also about the trend of trainers teaching riders to COMPETE instead of RIDE. Anyway, the goal of dressage did change, I wonder if the tests did too in the OPs time frame of 30+ years. The first Olympic dressage tests included rolling a barrel towards horse and rider and the horse jumping the barrel.
                              Last edited by sm; Jul. 25, 2006, 01:20 PM.

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                              • #35
                                The horse can always only be as good as its rider. However, a problem arises when substandard riding is awarded by judges.

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                                • #36
                                  I think the BIGGEST difference between now and 30 years ago is that

                                  There are a LOT more people doing dressage,and a lot more competitions.

                                  Which probably expands both ends of the population spread- the best are doing it better, and the worst are doing it worse.
                                  Last edited by Janet; Jul. 25, 2006, 03:07 PM.
                                  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).

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    we must be looking at different pic, 10 of 11 of those black and white photos the guys are hauling on the reins, in number 1 he has dropped the snaffle and is hauling only on the curb. All of their forearms look tight, they sit in a chair seat, the horses for the most part are out behind (look at the amazing difference in the angle of the legs in the bottom left corner) and the horses are hollow- but "constrained" in that hollow place, by the guys waterskiing on the reins. It does not look light at all. Most of the horses have very thin, unmuscled necks, no topline, and you cannot see the "bridge" from tail to nose. And if they were riding not competing- what were they doing at the shows anyway?

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      I agree he has dropped the snaffle, but he isn't "hauling" on the curb.

                                      When the SRS was here last year, they did "riding with only the curb" as the high point of their demonstration.
                                      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).

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        Mickydoodle said:

                                        Code:
                                        we must be looking at different pic, 10 of 11 of those black and white photos the guys are hauling on the reins, in number 1 he has dropped the snaffle and is hauling only on the curb. All of their forearms look tight, they sit in a chair seat, the horses for the most part are out behind (look at the amazing difference in the angle of the legs in the bottom left corner) and the horses are hollow- but "constrained" in that hollow place, by the guys waterskiing on the reins. It does not look light at all. Most of the horses have very thin, unmuscled necks, no topline, and you cannot see the "bridge" from tail to nose. And if they were riding not competing- what were they doing at the shows anyway?
                                        No kidding! As I posted on TOB

                                        Sabel, Hindlegs in back 40 and hollow
                                        Draufganger, unrecognizable movement, possible flying change, hollow, unexpressive and no engagment
                                        Linon, painfully braced against hand
                                        Absent, Nice
                                        Revue, Hindlegs in back 40
                                        Juli, can't tell from this angle
                                        Wald, Nice
                                        Woermann, disengaged, hindlegs in back 40, very against rider, ugly
                                        Dux, Lovely
                                        Piaff, Nice

                                        But then I do Judge, so I am clearly the root of all the problems we have in dressage today, as well as, blind, stupid, uneducated, brided - did I miss any?

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          I thought Dux looked lovely also along w/ Piaff. Who are the riders?

                                          Whats with Woermann? He looks so downhill and the very short neck makes me cringe.
                                          "You gave your life to become the person you are right now. Was it worth it?" Richard Bach

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