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Why can't my horse do grand prix?

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  • Why can't my horse do grand prix?

    I understand that the majority of horses (and riders) never get to the grand prix level. Why is that? What's so hard about the upper level movements that some horses can't do it? Or, is it that the horses can perform the movements, but lack the flair (or whatever) to be competitive?
    Jennifer Walker
    Proud owner of Capt Han Solo+, Arabian stallion http://www.capthansolo.com
    Author, freelance writer http://www.authorjennwalker.com

  • #2
    Do you have any idea of how hard the upper-level collected movements are? Most horses lack the ability to have that much "sit". They just simply can't do it without breaking down. Also, many horses just don't "get" one-tempis, their minds simply can't get it to work. Mentally, they can't take the stress that inherently with this level of training.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Nope, don't have much idea actually. What is it that prevents them from being able to sit? Can you predict this ability by their conformation?
      Jennifer Walker
      Proud owner of Capt Han Solo+, Arabian stallion http://www.capthansolo.com
      Author, freelance writer http://www.authorjennwalker.com

      Comment


      • #4
        grand prix

        You can guess that a horse may be able to collect and really sit by looking at conformation. But there are certainly a lot of horses with the ideal conformation that you can hardly ride to the mail box and back and some with not so ideal conformation that do very well at the upper levels.

        1. Physical attributes -- ability to collect, sit, do tempis, do passage, piaffe PHYSICALLY
        2. Being able to hold up to the stresses of training MENTALLY.
        3. Physical soundness -- their entire bodies have to be able to hold up to the stresses of the work. Lots of FEI level trained horses now doing other things because of injuries.

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        • #5
          For the same reason I didn't get a scholarship to play college basketball! I just don't have all the physical attributes necessary to compete at that level! (I REALLY don't now that I am 40!!!!)

          Seriously, not every person can be at the top of their sport, whether it be gymnastics, basketball, tennis or whatever. What makes you think it is so different for a horse and that any ol' horse should be able to be at the top of dressage?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by twnkltoz View Post
            I understand that the majority of horses (and riders) never get to the grand prix level. Why is that? What's so hard about the upper level movements that some horses can't do it? Or, is it that the horses can perform the movements, but lack the flair (or whatever) to be competitive?
            Only a relatively small percentage of equine athletes are talented enough to get to the upper levels of any discipline.

            But the real reason most horses never make it to GP <ESG zipping up flame suit here> is that their riders are less capable than they. One of my favorite coaches says "It's amazing what the horse can do when you teach the rider to ride." and I agree. Most horses perform GP movements all the time at liberty, so it stands to reason that the rider (and trainer) rather than lack of talent on the horse's part, is the root of the problem.

            JME.
            In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
            A life lived by example, done too soon.
            www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by inca View Post
              For the same reason I didn't get a scholarship to play college basketball! I just don't have all the physical attributes necessary to compete at that level! (I REALLY don't now that I am 40!!!!)

              Seriously, not every person can be at the top of their sport, whether it be gymnastics, basketball, tennis or whatever. What makes you think it is so different for a horse and that any ol' horse should be able to be at the top of dressage?
              It's not that I think everyone should be able to do it...I just want to know what stops them. To use your example, the average person can play basketball all they want. However, most don't have the combination of height and athletic ability to be able to keep up with the top level players. However, I suspect that much of this can be overcome with a lot of hard work. I just thought this would be an interesting discussion!

              Thanks all for your replies...please keep them coming!
              Jennifer Walker
              Proud owner of Capt Han Solo+, Arabian stallion http://www.capthansolo.com
              Author, freelance writer http://www.authorjennwalker.com

              Comment


              • #8
                While I agree that the rider is OFTEN a limiting factor to how far a horse goes, I still do NOT think most horses can do GP. Doing a passage out in the pasture is VERY different than putting together an entire GP test while remaining through, supple, etc.!

                (I know darn well my horses would be MUCH farther along if Debbie McDonald was their rider. But hey, they are stuck with me!)

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                • #9
                  A horse that lacks cadance and suspension in the trot will probably never be able to get off the ground enough for passage. The horse that lacks the ability to lower the haunches and raise the front, will most likely never piaffe. A horse that doesn't have a natural, swinging rythm in his gait, or is tight in the back probably won't do either, they will tend to quicken and shuffle rather than push themselves upward off the ground. You can help some of this through training, although, no matter how well trained they are, some will never be able to. Even if the horse has suspension and cadance in the working gaits, he may lack the ability to bring the hind legs under and keep them under.

                  Many horses can never be supple enough to do the steep half passes, especially the counter changes in canter.

                  Some horses just don't have the mental ability to contiue to learn beyond a certain level. They get frustrated and angry when the work becomes difficult for them, or confusing for them.

                  Many horses who can do perfect individual changes, still can't keep their balance well enough to do the ones. The one time changes are almost a gait onto themselves. The ones are the ultimate test of co-ordination and balance.

                  Even horses who can do bits of p & p, and the ones, can have difficulty keeping the engagement and impulsion and balance needed to do the entire test. In the GP, there is no room for error, the movements come up so quickly, that virtually every step has to be near perfect.

                  The rider has to have absoute control over their own body and aids,this requires a tremendous amount of feel and co-ordination.

                  You can predict some of this natural ability. I would look for a horse that carries himself up-hill, with a natural cadance and suspension, keeps his hind legs under his body naturally as he pushes himself up off the ground as well as forward.

                  Even then, it's a total crapshoot.

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                  • #10
                    I worked hard and was a really good shooter. That is a skill that you can really improve with hard work. However, no matter how hard I work, I wasn't going to become fast enough or be able to jump high enough (or be tall enough) to be competitive at a high level.

                    You can IMPROVE most things with hard work but you can't always improve them ENOUGH to compete at the highest level.

                    Most horses just don't have enough athleticism and the mental fortitude to do Grand Prix. And stay sound enough to get there.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Here's another question: to what level would you say the majority of horses (that are sound and don't have deal-breaking conformational faults) have the ability to attain, given a competant rider? Training? What about your average, athletic, intelligent horse?
                      Jennifer Walker
                      Proud owner of Capt Han Solo+, Arabian stallion http://www.capthansolo.com
                      Author, freelance writer http://www.authorjennwalker.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        i think the rider is the most limiting factor.... it is HARD to ride correctly for activity and then collection. it is HARD to ride precisely.

                        i do think all horses can do stuff from FEI, but to show and be competitive is another story...

                        imagine what horses would be like it ALL riders/trainers were Mr. Klimke??

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                        • #13
                          I'm in the "it's all about the rider" camp. I've seen brilliant riders get brilliant movements out of horses you'd never imagine could do that. An average-moving horse that's sound is capable of doing at least some of the GP movements. The pivotal factor is having a human show it how to do these movements without frying its brain.
                          Now, I'm not saying it's easy. Heck no! Some horses get fried more easily than others. Even Klimke took horses to Oliveira to put P/P on them. So even the greatest horsemen get help, too.
                          I've seen (too many) horses with all the talent in the world never get past second level because of trainers who thought they knew it all.
                          Technically these riders were good, looked terrific in the saddle, learned from the best teachers but they lacked something that is crucial in developing any horse's potential: TACT.
                          Without tact, you will never succeed in the upper levels.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It's both horse and rider. I never saw my childhood pony piaffe in the pasture (standing and bucking were his favourite gaits) and I would bet no pro in the world could take him to GP

                            I'd say your average hrose could make it to be competitive at 3rd level with a great rider. Beyond that, it takes more on the part of the horse.

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                            • #15
                              most horses/riders top out at 2nd level because of collection.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Are we talking about doing GP, or being competitive??? Most horses can do piaffe/passage (after the fashions of their body, and learn collection). There are some for whom the ones cannot be put in (because they are a gait anomoly where the riders latin may not go). But short of the most horses can learn all the lateral work, collection, PPP, and tempis to twos; put riders are often not given the tools, nor have the time to devote to learning how to ride, and then train, horses. Competitive? Depends upon where and for what level.
                                I.D.E.A. yoda

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                                • #17
                                  There's also something about a Grand Prix horse - even a mediocre one - that makes them want to keep on truckin'. It's more than just natural impulsion, it's an inner drive, a desire to fight when the going gets tough. You can't get through the Grand Prix without it. Some horses just don't want to go through that much work.
                                  spriesersporthorse.com | farm on Facebook | me on Facebook | blog

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    ...and it is not that the horse is not capable of collection. For the most part, it is the rider leaning forward on the crotch with reins held too short by arms that are too much straight away from the torso.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                                      Are we talking about doing GP, or being competitive??? Most horses can do piaffe/passage (after the fashions of their body, and learn collection). There are some for whom the ones cannot be put in (because they are a gait anomoly where the riders latin may not go). But short of the most horses can learn all the lateral work, collection, PPP, and tempis to twos; put riders are often not given the tools, nor have the time to devote to learning how to ride, and then train, horses. Competitive? Depends upon where and for what level.
                                      Maybeeeee, because they spent to much time riding their keyboards

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Horsedances View Post
                                        Maybeeeee, because they spent to much time riding their keyboards
                                        HEE HEE!! Why are you confused. You most reasonably came up with the correct answer.

                                        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.

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