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Dressage Frame v. Jumping Frame --the same or different?

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  • Dressage Frame v. Jumping Frame --the same or different?

    I have a jumper who was recently introduced into the dressage world for cross training. Within 4 weeks he began to drag his rt hind toe.

    I have been through the gamut of vet/chiro/accupuncture/deep tissue massage -- and I think I have found the problem: his spine.

    I now believe that he might have always had a potential issue, but that it never bothered him until he started dressage training and was asked to lift and soften his back. Since he seems to have several vertebrae which get locked together, it was impossible for him to do this correctly, so the toe drag was the way he compensated for his back.

    I am now having an interesting conversation with a friend. She maintains that a dressage frame and a jumper frame should be the same, so that, if ridden correctly in dressage, he would not have had a problem (since he was always 100% sound as a jumper).

    I am of the theory that
    1. The ideal head/neck position is on the bit with the poll being the highest point, but that, often now in dressage, the horse's nose is behind the vertical and the crest is the highest point - especially in a horse just learning dressage, who has no muscling to maintain a classically correct head position. Ergo: The world is not a perfect place no matter what and so his head being lower and his nose being slightly behind the vertical was inevitable -- and it also created an increased probablity of stress on his back.

    2. The jumper frame (in back of the neck) is geared toward carrying 60% of the weight on the hind end, with a light front end and that rounded, supple backs are not the norm (nor the goal) in a jumper on course in a ring.


    My friend believes that a good frame is a good frame and there is basically no distinction between the way a horse should carry himself when put properly on the bit.

    (I hope that my friend will come on and correct me if I have misinterpreted her in any way. I have paraphrased her in an effort to distill a long conversation down to a BB post.)

    What say you all? I know that x/c is a different kettle of fish, so I am leaving that discipline out of the discussion. This is purely a question of dressage and show jumping frames.
    "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

    Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


  • #2
    As a starting point, I'd say one of the key questions is dressage-at-what-level? There is an enormous difference between a horse going in a correct first level frame and one with the strength and carriage to do the upper levels in dressage. Hence why the focus should be on the horse's body and legs, and not on the actual position of their nose - if they are come through from behind and lifting as appropriate for their stage of development, than the head and neck will work itself out (all debates about rollkur aside).

    That being said, the good jumper folks I've ridden with often stressed the same things as the good dressage folks: ride the horse from back to front and engage the hind end (at whatever level the horse is ready for). Just as the good jumpers shift their weight back, the good dressage horses do as well - and a necessary component of this is lifting through the back and releasing over their topline. In fact, I had a clinic with Katie Prudent a few weeks back where we spent a good 45 minutes working on flatwork (in her words) - which was pretty darn equivalent to many dressage lessons I've had, albeit in a jump saddle. Shoulder in, haunches in, leg yield, lengthen, shorten. The key in all cases is not where the head is per se, but what the body and hind legs are doing, which, with a soft hand, necessarily dictates what the neck/head do - and I think that's fairly consistent at the mid and lower levels of both disciplines (at the very upper levels, the skills diverge as they become more specialized).

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by GotSpots View Post
      That being said, the good jumper folks I've ridden with often stressed the same things as the good dressage folks: ride the horse from back to front and engage the hind end (at whatever level the horse is ready for). Just as the good jumpers shift their weight back, the good dressage horses do as well - and a necessary component of this is lifting through the back and releasing over their topline. [emphasis added]
      Thanks for the great reply. I have edited your post down to the meat of my issue:

      IS it necessary to lift though the back and release in the topline in order to shift the weight back?

      I think that this is where my understanding is muddy (to be kind).

      I have seen a lot of GP jumpers go and, while they may be flatted like dressage horses (many of them do, indeed, have a high level of dressage training -- it is just not called "dressage"), with a light and supple back, it seems to me that, when they go in the ring, especially for a speed class or a jump off, the rider wants/must have the weight shift. But there is no commensurate effort made to achieve a lift through the back and a release in the topline.

      Which is why I guess I am questioning your statement -- that the weight shift and the topline release must go together.

      In fact, isn't that why beginning dressage horses are taught to go long and low? -- to allow their spines to stretch and "release"? As a horse moves up through the levels, he is more and more able to achieve this frame with his head held higher and higher, until he can both hold his head with his pole at the highest point and his back lifted and supple.

      In dressage, isn't that is a goal? I don't think it is a goal in the jumper ring, though.

      But I am happy to concede the errors in my thinking if I am in the minority. That is why I brought this question to the BB.
      "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

      Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump

      Comment


      • #4
        the goal of a jumper is to leave the jumps up. Plain and simple.


        They will do what they can to help the horse accomplish that goal. Most horses jump better if they are not tight and tense in their back. BUT if they still leave all the jumps up....then you take what you can get and it will not stop that horse from being a competitive jumper. The jumper is not judged....so ultimately, whether they are "through" and soft isn't as important as leaving the rails up.

        You are making it more complicated then it is.

        They are not ridden or trained any differently....and what they work on is the same (straight, forward, supple etc)....but the end goals and what is most important is different. If a jumper is stiff and tight (or needs a double twisted wire to be rideable) but is still fast and clean....he will still be a good jumper rather than a lousy dressage horse.

        ETA: Although IMO you do NOT ride your jumper "on the bit" to the jumps....I'm talking about when you are flatting a jumper you really don't ride them any differently then you would a dressage horse of the same level of training.
        Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Aug. 24, 2010, 07:57 PM.
        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

        Comment


        • #5
          The way I think about it - and again, I could be wrong - is that the horse naturally has to lighten the front end and lift the back by the very act of weighting the hind end. In other words, think of the horse's body like a lever. As the horse swings his hind legs further underneath his body, he necessarily puts more weight on them and, just as importantly, lowers his haunches and hind end. That lifts the front end, making it lighter - just what you want in a dressage horse or jumper - you're placing the weight of the horse over the big "pushing" muscles of the haunches and making it easier to lift up in front. There's a pretty good set of drawings of this in (I think) Klimke's or de Nemethy's books - I can see the image of the horse outlines with a line through them that starts out horizontal or even a little downhill, but, as the horse progresses becomes steadily more sloped SW to NE. The ultimate progression of this is the "high school" of the levade and courbette - we don't do these tricks in dressage any more, but that's the logical extension of the training.

          Now, a jumper doesn't have to go to that extreme. But if you watch them, many of those horses take a bigger step behind and lower their hindquarters, thus lifting their front ends. Think of that tail-snapping canter you see a horse do as he goes up to a puissance wall - the front end is very, very light and all the power's shifted backwards. They may not necessarily be as soft in the jaw as you'd see in a dressage horse, but most of those jumpers are absolutely lifted in front and through their shoulder/topline to help get their front ends up off the ground.

          Comment


          • #6
            At the lower levels of dressage the horse only needs to show acceptance of the bit.

            What level are you working at?

            Comment


            • #7
              Quick Answer

              Dressage helps both latitude and longitude suppleness and strength. Which in turn helps a horse jump more balanced. There are so many roads to Rome to achieve suppleness that it would be hard to answer specifically why your horse has a hitch in his getalong. On my road, one is taught by moving the hind and front end ie shoulder in, haunches in etc. The other is achieved by transitions and changes within gaits. One of the two or a combination of them might have uncovered a physical issue, or even a minor difference in strength from one side to the other. I'd get it checked before moving on with either discipline.
              www.canterusa.org

              Comment


              • #8
                He could have very well always been ridden in a deep frame. It's easier.

                I work my horse daily in a deeper frame then what I show in.
                Competition position vs. schooling position.

                deep
                http://photos-a.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-...87894_6889.jpg

                the type of dressage frame you are thinking of
                http://www.oldenburghorse.com/images-success/Albano.jpg

                a CORRECT frame for Beginner Novice/Novice/ and even Training dressage
                (Training level and 1st level pure dressage discipline)
                http://www.useventing.com/blog/wp-co...ofDSCF0866.jpg
                http://kaboomeventing.com/
                http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
                Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

                Comment


                • #9
                  The term "frame" =

                  There's your problem.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    And, now to really throw a wrench into this, maybe the horse was "an accident waiting to happen" maybe his problem would have occured anyway and Dressage has nothing to do with it.

                    Carry on. . .
                    RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

                    "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Oooh, Aaah, a post by one of my favorites, Lord Helpus!

                      I know that Lucinda Green says a horse cannot see a fence with his chin tucked.

                      My instructor does not want my horse in a "frame" while jumping but "on his feet".

                      Many horses, especially warmbloods, are built and travel uphill naturally.
                      I think your horse has been stressed and forced and thus the apparent soreness and leg dragging. He probably always compensated for his back before, the dressage trainer/rider didn't allow him to "compensate".
                      Just my two cents.
                      Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                      Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        "Lifting the back" is not the goal of either dressage for show jumpers or dressage for dressage horses. The goal is to produce and eminently ridable horse who is responsive, obedient and in self-carriage. That may be too purist for most competitors of either sport.

                        No, I personally don't ride my event horses in a dressage frame for show jumping. I think there is a vision issue with horses being able to get the best view of the fence with a face on vertical. Yes, I've ridden with a BNT that wanted me to ride show jumping in a dressage frame. His justification was that if we want our horses to be round and using themselves over the jump they best way to get there is by riding them round and using themselves between the jumps. At first that might make sense. But the sport that produces the roundest jumpers of all--hunters--doesn't get those fabulous bascules from riding a dressage frame between fences.

                        Honestly, I think we eventers should be spending more effort jumping our lower level courses more like hunters than show jumpers...

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by subk View Post
                          I've ridden with a BNT that wanted me to ride show jumping in a dressage frame. His justification was that if we want our horses to be round and using themselves over the jump they best way to get there is by riding them round and using themselves between the jumps. At first that might make sense. But the sport that produces the roundest jumpers of all--hunters--doesn't get those fabulous bascules from riding a dressage frame between fences.

                          Honestly, I think we eventers should be spending more effort jumping our lower level courses more like hunters than show jumpers...
                          Mike Plumb prepared for show jumping (at the Olympics) by taking hunter lessons. He worked on making his eye work from long way back, so there was no snatching and grabbing and the horse was always presented to the jump from the same place off a smooth stride. We in the hunter world do have a lot of skills that other disciplines can learn from. Riding a top round on a good horse and making it look easy is incredibly hard.

                          Hi Retreadeventer!!!

                          I had composed a long post several hours ago and it got lost between my house and COTH's house. Here is the Cliff's Notes version:

                          My REAL question, (because I probably WAS overthinking everything) is, does a jumper with good flatwork use the same muscles as does a low level dressage horse?

                          When I began this trek several months ago, I would have said "yes". A horse with muscles for jumping should be able to do dressage work with no problem. That is because I believed the frames to be so similar that my horse would not be straining anything that he had never used before.

                          Now, I am not so sure. I now believe that when he started doing dressage he needed to use heretofore untapped muscles and, not realizing this, we took him too far, too fast since he seemed to be thriving on the dressage training.

                          If this premise is the correct one, then we come full circle to my initial question: In what way are the 2 frames different so that the horse has to use different muscles?

                          The bottom line here is that I need to figure out if anything I asked him to do caused the hitch in his gitalong. If so, then I have to know what it was so I do not repeat my mistake.
                          "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                          Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by subk View Post

                            But the sport that produces the roundest jumpers of all--hunters--doesn't get those fabulous bascules from riding a dressage frame between fences.

                            Honestly, I think we eventers should be spending more effort jumping our lower level courses more like hunters than show jumpers...
                            I can attest to this! As I'm retraining myself for the hunter derbies these days.
                            My horse was always a great huntery jumper but now it's just insane. It's so fun and I feel like I'm riding a really slow dragon. : )

                            Jumpers are worked on the flat usually the same way as dressage horses.
                            Horses should not jump in a dressage frame for the vision reasons stated above.
                            Some horses naturally go into a bit of a rounder shape because they are really supple, have long necks, AND/OR are sesitive to contact therefore not really galloping into the bridle.

                            there is nothing wrong with the term frame, or on the bit, or in the bridle as they all speak of driving the horse from behind into contact.
                            There is a problem with the term "head set". mmm-kay?

                            these threads are only a train wreck if people insist on always bringing popcorn and beer to the party. get over it. the OP asked an honest question and there are plenty of good posters that can add view points for the better of everyones education. The wealth of knowlege is why I come. Eat your popcorn and learn something.
                            http://kaboomeventing.com/
                            http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
                            Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lord Helpus View Post
                              My REAL question, (because I probably WAS overthinking everything) is, does a jumper with good flatwork use the same muscles as does a low level dressage horse?

                              Yes. Good flatwork for jumpers should be exactly the same as dressage.
                              http://www.MyVirtualEventingCoach.com

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Lord Helpus View Post
                                But there is no commensurate effort made to achieve a lift through the back and a release in the topline.

                                Which is why I guess I am questioning your statement -- that the weight shift and the topline release must go together.
                                Are you perhaps talking about throughness?


                                Originally posted by Lord Helpus View Post
                                My REAL question, (because I probably WAS overthinking everything) is, does a jumper with good flatwork use the same muscles as does a low level dressage horse?
                                If the same person is doing the schooling, yes. The horse/horses are probably getting the same work when being worked on the flat. I can't tell from your OP if someone else was riding this horse prior to you. If so, that could account for the problem.

                                If I get a horse from another rider's program, doesn't matter whether they are jumpers or dressage. They work the horse differently than I do, most likely and the change could cause weaknesses to emerge - whether I am better or worse, I am different. There are probably plenty of nice jumpers that never engage their toplines, we can also probably find a few 1st/2nd level dressage horses and say the same about those. Good riding is good riding. It crosses disciplines. I think GS and I had a conversation about this after the KP clinic.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Frame? Frame is a pretty way to win ribbons with the dressage scores, but I digress.

                                  I will ride a horse differently to a fence, because with the chin tucked in, you're taking away some of their ability to focus. Horses move their head to bring things into focus. Also, horses have a lot of variety in jumping styles. I'm very willing to adjust to what helps them get over the fence in a safe and sane manner.

                                  On the flat? They're all dressage horses by the definition that I expect them to accept the bit and work from their hindquarters. Aside from scores, it's the way to jump better and to help keep the wear and tear off the front half. When the rest of the pieces are in place, the 'frame' will come naturally. Some are better than others at coming into that picture of the dressage ideal. You've seen a problem, and you've had it professionally checked out. At the lower levels, there's no need to push it past what he can handle. The pretty 'frame' is just putting the head so that it's vertical. What you really want is that push from behind, and that makes a lot of difference when jumping.

                                  Others have put it better, just my two cents.
                                  http://thoughtfulequestrian.blogspot.com - My Ventures Into Eventing

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Lord, I keep thinking about the toe dragging. That's a function of the big muscles in the hip. Could come from the back and the bony structure but how the bony structure is moved is through the system of pulleys and wheels known as muscles, tendons, ligaments. To protect his back, he would have tried to use his hip (the bendable parts) more.

                                    Making him really bring his hocks underneath himself while working on the flat could have stretched and worked those big muscles. I have seen many a trotter (harness racehorse) sore in the hip and hindquarter from over-extertion. Too much pushing.

                                    I am also thinking that the carrying muscles underneath -- the stomach and underline muscles -- also have something to do with this. Your horse while jumping might not have been using these as much as with the "carrying" work of the dressage. I'm thinking jumping is sort of "longitudinal" and the flat work he's done, sort of more compact, expand, contract, expand. Like weight lifting type stuff (dressage) vs. running the hurdles stuff (jumping).

                                    One jump - one push.
                                    Dressage - push every step.

                                    Does that help?
                                    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                                    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      First I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to post. I feel that COTH is a great place to come for a variety of opinions, but recently it tends toward "what color coat goes best with my chestnut horse". That is why I don't post here much anymore.

                                      It is great to know that there are posters who have knowledge from experience and are happy to share it.

                                      Several things have come out of your posts:

                                      1. There were different riders for each phase of his training. I have seen both work with my horse (normally I would be riding, but this horse is too talented for me. I bought him as an weanling and he has turned into a lovely horse who has incredible potential. So I stick to trail riding him on his rest days.)

                                      Whichever poster it was who posted the pictures of the 3 frames really got me thinking. -- I am a visual person and the pictures really hit home. -- I have pictures of him being flatted by his jumper rider and his position and the way he is working through from behind is exemplary.

                                      His position as a beginning dressage horse is not what the picture of a lower level frame is supposed to look like, however. This rider did a wonderful job in many many ways and I am not taking anything away from her good work. However, now I can see that the frame she was attempting to put him in was perhaps too advanced for his level of musculature.

                                      I have heard dressage riders say that their horse has become stronger through his topline and therefore can do upper level dressage more fluidly than he could the prior year.

                                      I now think that was the problem here. The frame she was trying to get him in was too advanced and so he (good boy that he is) instead of arguing with her and fighting with her, began to compensate through his back and hind end to be able to carry his front end in the position she was asking for.

                                      I will proceed according to that theory and have him ridden like a jumper again. When he is ready, we will even go back to jumping small fences again.

                                      I will give him time to feel good under tack and get stronger and then I will decide if he is to be a jumper or a dressage horse.

                                      Either way, I am going to take it much more slowly with him this time.

                                      Poor baby. I think he was the victim of his own talent. He seemed like he was adjusting to everything being asked of him, and was proceeding at a rate that was dizzyingly [new word] fast.

                                      But you can't fool mother nature...
                                      "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                                      Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Lord Helpus View Post
                                        His position as a beginning dressage horse is not what the picture of a lower level frame is supposed to look like, however. This rider did a wonderful job in many many ways and I am not taking anything away from her good work. However, now I can see that the frame she was attempting to put him in was perhaps too advanced for his level of musculature...

                                        I now think that was the problem here. The frame she was trying to get him in was too advanced and so he (good boy that he is) instead of arguing with her and fighting with her, began to compensate through his back and hind end to be able to carry his front end in the position she was asking for.
                                        Sounds like very good logic to me. Good luck!

                                        Also, cool info about Mike Plumb, thanks. Come back and play with us soon...

                                        Comment

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