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please educate me

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  • please educate me

    I'm new to dressage, my background is cutting and working cow horse. I do not live in an area that is a mecca for dressage so finding instruction is like looking for needles in a haystack. Someone sent me an ad for a local instructor who is an FEI level rider "German training system".....what does that mean? Honestly I just want the basics, starting from square one.....best way to find a suitable instructor? I do clinic a few times a year with a person who is (I believe) a more classical instructor but I need more steady instruction throughout the year to stay on track.

    Thanks

  • #2
    Perhaps post your general location and get recommendations. We have a German trainer in our area and she's NOT for me (I took 1 lesson with her and realized this). I actually asked around and went with an event rider trainer for a while (who really knows her dressage) until I could find an upper level trainer/rider.

    German trainers have learned through an established system but that doesn't mean they're great trainers - just good riders. At the lower levels (First down to Intro) I believe almost any decent instruction will be OK augmented by good clinics.
    Now in Kentucky

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    • #3
      i think you can go to the usdf or usef website to find trainers in your area
      be kind to your horses mouth!

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      • #4
        You still have to go see the trainer, ask if you can go watch him/her teach a lesson, and ask questions afterwards, talk about your goals. You can get a good sense, but really you won't know until you try, unless it's an absolute no-go from what you observe.

        Personally, I don't believe that beginners should be started by lower-level intstructors. What I love about the German trainer I study with is that he looks at the FEI level and he teaches toward that, no matter what level rider you are (and I started with him as a novice who couldn't sit the trot properly). They don't teach you to be a training level rider. Then a first level rider. Then a second level rider. etc. They teach you to become a good rider, period. (At least mine does ).

        I am German, so I am clearly biased
        "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht

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        • #5
          I'd check out the USDF. Dressage is just training...really. The levels are a training scale. Coming from a cutting background you may be more comfortable with the French or Classical style. (I came from the same place). The 'in lightness' makes more sense for me. And if your horse is a little hotter it seems to work well. But, I'm no expert, just plodding along through the levels. lol

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          • #6
            Originally posted by InsideLeg2OutsideRein View Post
            You still have to go see the trainer, ask if you can go watch him/her teach a lesson, and ask questions afterwards, talk about your goals. You can get a good sense, but really you won't know until you try, unless it's an absolute no-go from what you observe.

            Personally, I don't believe that beginners should be started by lower-level intstructors. What I love about the German trainer I study with is that he looks at the FEI level and he teaches toward that, no matter what level rider you are (and I started with him as a novice who couldn't sit the trot properly). They don't teach you to be a training level rider. Then a first level rider. Then a second level rider. etc. They teach you to become a good rider, period. (At least mine does ).

            I am German, so I am clearly biased
            I agree you need a trainer that teaches overall ridership not just the movements. I always sit in on a lesson and at least ride one lesson with the trainer and see if the trainer and I click.
            Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.
            -Auntie Mame

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              thanks

              I'm located in northern CA about 3 hours north of SF. The USDF site was helpful but the closest instructor listed is an hour and a half away from me and with working full time and raising a family that's a little far to haul for a weekly lesson. I do come from a background where a good solid foundation in the basics was key to achieving success at the higher levels in my former discipline so that's important to me. The instructor I clinic with a few times a year gets a kick out of me because we speak two different languages of riding though in the end it seems we're on the same page. Its left me feeling that I want to learn more though and the training and knowledge seems to be a closely guarded secret in our local area.

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              • #8
                I'm about 5 hours north of SF. I know exactly what you mean. I use Carrie Harnden and Elaine Kerrigan. I then travel for clinic rides.

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                • #9
                  --Someone sent me an ad for a local instructor who is an FEI level

                  'FEI' refers to the more advanced tests. It's like saying the trainer is advanced. It suggests he has trained and shown (successfully) at those advanced levels and scored well.

                  There are four national 'levels', each one harder than the last. Then above that, there are four international 'levels', each one harder than the last. There is a big difference between each level. The 'FEI' is the International Equestrian Federation, the organization that handles the international competitions.

                  MOST dressage riders never get past First (national) level. It's hard to go further. MOST dressage riders are pretty happy to just make First or Second Level a lifetime goal. Amateurs do go further up the levels sometimes, but they usually have to work pretty hard at it to do so.

                  --rider "German training system".....what does that mean?

                  In most European countries there is a 'system' for training and licensing instructors/trainers, Germany too. They usually go to a school, spend some time working for a trainer, and then take an exam (ridden and written) to get their basics, then they go on to work with a more advanced trainer...stuff like that.

                  USUALLY those systems do a really, really good job of training instructors to teach and train well. USUALLY it's a very, very good thing for an instructor/trainer to have.

                  --Honestly I just want the basics, starting from square one.....best way to find a suitable instructor? I do clinic a few times a year with a person who is (I believe) a more classical instructor but I need more steady instruction throughout the year to stay on track.

                  'Classical' is a funny word. You'll see as you go on. USUALLY, it means the instructor is very good, but people do misuse the word to misrepresent themselves, as in any business. We like to think it means they really know their stuff, aren't in a huge hurry or slapping on all sorts of bits and gadgets on the horse to force him to do things, but don't take forever to teach someone anything, and can successfully train a lot of different types of horses to do dressage well.

                  People just don't agree on what's the best approach. You'll have people tell you to find some local conveniently available person you get along well with, and just have fun. And you'll have people tell you you just must get a top notch coach with lots of experience showing nationally and internationally who is really skilled and has show wins, instructor certification, etc. No one really agrees on it.

                  For most of us, we're limited in time to travel and trailer to work with the more advanced or more well known trainers. We work with who we have access to regularly and can afford, clinic now and again, and do pretty well overall.

                  I'd like to say, 'pick an instructor with USDF instructor certification', but there are only about 140 of them in the whole country, and there might not be one near you.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree with checking them out. Go watch and see. It is always better to ride with someone you can understand and does know what it takes to get to the top. (Which is where I agree with a couple other posters.)

                    Good luck with your new career. I'm in the opposite boat and would love to find someone I knew was good at cutting and someone that's good at reining (I might have a lead on that one). I would like to try it before I get too old. (I got a taste of reining on a friend's horse.)
                    "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

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                    • #11
                      "german training system" is used to mean quite alot of things. Or nothing at all. People say alot of things in ads.

                      The best thing to do is go watch this trainer train other people and seriously contemplate the pros and cons of their methods. Any good trainer would be happy for you to come watch their lessons with others. It might be all pros...great! There might be some cons, like being particularly harsh to the horse or the rider. Talk to the trainer about what YOU want from lessons and what YOUR goals are. If the trainer can help you reach them...great. If not (and don't be put off it not), then perhaps there is another person around who can help you reach your goals.

                      It can be difficult to train in an area where there are few trainers but you never want to succumb to a bad trainer. Trust your gut. Go check her out. Good luck!

                      J.
                      Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        great info

                        and yes I will be going to check her out, can't hurt and it may be someone I'd like to work with. I'm not so concerned with a trainer who is not all "warm and fuzzy" as much as I want to be sure that I'm gaining a good solid foundation without short cuts and gimmicks in getting started on my journey. Since I'm not familiar with this discipline and the methods and jargon that go along with it I find it a little intimidating but so far most folks have been kind enough to listen patiently to my many questions.

                        at this point I still ride in my western saddle on my cowhorse though at the last clinic I did end up using my older fjord gelding who has been trained and shown in dressage by a former owner, he proved that he knows much more than I do. The clinician who comes to our area several times a year is young and enthusiastic and open to allowing me to ride and learn though we don't necessarily follow suit with the other riders and horses. And though I'm not savvy to the difference between classical, competitive, German, French, etc.....she seems to be a good horsewoman with a good eye and keen sense of timing and instructs well. I always feel like I've made some sort of progress with her no matter how slight.

                        And Velvet enjoy your new adventure into cutting and reining. I grew up with an "old school" cutting trainer and breeder who insisted on perfection at each step of the process and though we cut competitively we also used those horses for ranch work gathering cattle at home as well no matter what they were worth and some were worth quite a bit. I value the education I received from her and because of her have learned to appreciate many different equine disciplines and what it takes to succeed at the higher levels.....a good horseman is a good horseman no matter what type of saddle they ride in.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'd be concerned for your sake if I were to see someone advertising "German system," and knowing that you had a background in working western. I think you might find the German system rather heavy handed, and if you are using the same horse that you used for your western work, you might have a fight on your hands. I suggest that you go watch this trainer working some lower level horses...not FEI horses, and watch her giving some lower level lessons. See also if you can find someone in your area that teaches dressage more the "French" fashion. As you transition from working western to dressage, I think you might be more comfortable with a French training approach, ...at least until you are more familiar with the dressage discipline.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            There is nothing heavy about the german system, and there is nothing light about the french system.

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