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Novice level dressage frame vs. Training level (pure) dressage frame

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  • Novice level dressage frame vs. Training level (pure) dressage frame

    I was having a lesson with my friend/dressage coach, who is a pure DQ and has cleaned up at the lower levels (up to 3rd) with her big Appendix QH and is now showing Intermediare I successfully. The only "eventing" dressage she has seen has been coming to a show with me.

    That said, at my last show, I was watching my video of the dressage and found that Sam (my Paint) was in more of a long, low frame, reaching for the bit, but his balance and his neck were quite horizontal. DQ friend said that his frame was completely appropriate for Training level dressage, which I figured would be the equivalent of Novice eventing dressage. However, judge really rewarded more of the "uphill" frames on horses - we only scored a 38, and I'm used to scoring lower than that. Comments on test were "need to be rounder", "need more suppleness", "Need more uphill balance".

    I took our current frame to my coach, who is a BNT at the four-star level, and she said that at Novice, the judge is definitely looking for a rounder, more uphill frame than what I was presenting. Of course, I'm riding a Paint and not a WB who naturally goes in that type of frame, but she worked us through shortening my reins and getting Sam to be more uphill and rounder in his neck, lifting more through the wither. Said trainer, btw, scored something like a 24 on her TB at NOvice at VHT, so methinks she knows what she is talking about.

    Just had a lesson with DQ friend and she disagrees - says that the frame we're working in now is too advanced for the level (Training). She said that it would be more appropriate for 1st level. I asked her if we were capable of it, and she agreed that we were, but that at a pure dressage show, we would be dinged for being "too advanced for the level". However, she agreed that if that's what the judge wants to see, then that's what the judge gets (if the horse/rider are capable of it).

    So, what do you all think? Do you think that the level of balance and the frame is more advanced than what you would see in "pure" dressage (I'm talking about Novice level, but I guess this applies to any level)? Is it common nowadays, with the infusion of WBs in our sport, that the judges are looking for more of an uphill outline?

    Here is a picture of us, fairly typical (before our "new" frame): http://good-times.webshots.com/photo...53515467MeWTQn
    (yes, I bought the picture - just haven't scanned it in yet). This test scored us a 31.5. Up until about a month ago, we still looked like that, so a more typical score for us would be about a 37. For some reason, when we first started out at BN, that frame would get us a score in the low 30s - this year, with better balance and suppleness, same frame/same kind of test gets us a score in the high 30s. NOt sure what the difference is - we haven't gone Novice yet, so it's not like there was a change in the test. We're doing our first Novice this weekend.

    Thoughts? I'd love to see pictures of you and your pony doing a dresssage test, and the score that accompanied it (for example, that trot scored us a 7).

    Thanks in advance!
    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

    So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."

  • #2
    This is how I always understood it - the horse should have a lower, collected and in a low frame. They are not really rounding yet, but going well and balanced.

    I have had the discussion before with my instructor that while this is how it is 'supposed' to be, regardless of it is eventing or dressage - many horses that 'look' more like dressage horses get better scores. We have seen this at the unrecognized, elementary division as well.

    It may be that the judges assume that the event horse is older and more experienced or just that they like seeing that dressage is apparently being worked on as much as the other three phases.

    I am not sure, but I have had similar discussions with my instructor. I don't have any dressage pictures as of yet - hopefully later in the summer I will...


    • #3
      I've had this discussion (or, at least, a very similar one) many times. My situation is that my mare and I ride mid-60's at 3d level at recognized dressage shows (qualified for USDF regional championships, etc) and show training level horse trials. The dressage at training level eventing is somewhat different than 3d level pure dressage but I always wonder whether I should ride a "training level" frame or a more collected frame at my HTs. Do I sit or do I post, etc. I tend to ride a training level test (posting, etc.) and generally score between 28 and 32 but always wonder if I could score even better if I put her in a more advanced frame. Frankly, I'm too chicken to try but would love to hear what you folks think. I hope I'm not hijacking this thread with my personal info, if so, my apologies but I think there are a lot of us out there who worry about this.


      • #4
        It depends. A more classical type judge will "ding" someone who is a more advanced frame.... but IME most will not. Even in pure dressage, the horses winning at Training (or even INTRO!) are on the vertical and uphill.

        But, at one show where I was competing Prelim, where you would expect a more "2nd level-ish" frame, my mare was particularly tense, I let her go longer and lower (really what I would consider a Novice frame!), and the judge commented on how lovely it was that I wasn't trying to "cram" my horse and gave us a great score.

        Third Charm Event Team


        • #5
          It depends on the judge. I have a QH going at Training level in eventing, who is obviously not going to do a test like an uphill warmblood. Stock breeds also move with less knee, which can make them look more downhill than they are. Some judges LOVE him, because we do very accurate tests, he is very obedient and relaxed, has excellent transitions and a 10 walk. Some dont like him as much, because he isnt as "up", he isnt as fancy, and he doesnt have that big energetic look (also partly because of the way he moves, flat knees).

          That said, he generally kicks butt in dressage, so despite the other horses being fancy TBs and warmbloods, his downhill, goose rumped, QH self can hold his own.

          I think the long and low is definitely appropriate for N. But, if someone did a similar test as you but with a rounder frame, I woudnt be surprised if they beat you. Its all about the competition. I think your frame looks perfectly good for your level, but you cant control what everyone else is doing.


          • #6
            A horse should be in a natural balance, up (relatively for the level) and slightly open (in the throatlatch. In training level the horse is only required to 'accept the bit' vs be 'on the bit' (first level and above). When the horse is long/low or forward/down/out, that is an exercise (in some of the tests after the horse is 'on the bit') to show the horse will seek the hand.

            A horizontal position (ie like western) reflects a horse which is rather on the forehand. The question is whether you would ride to a fence like this. If the answer is no, why do it on the flat. Judges do not reward upper level frames, but horses which are properly balanced.

            A 62-69.5% is not bad, but 'rounder' is created by the hindquarters folding, not by the rider taking the horse btv or lower by shortening the reins. If those pix are representative of the work at the moment, it is incorrect. Look at the rules (in the general guidelines and for each gait) it is suggested that the horse (in general) have the poll the highest point and is in front of the vertical. This horse has the third vertebae the highest point. Of course the pix could be a moment in time. IF the horse is taking proper hh the hindquarters fold and the neck is lifted/arced, not the other way round. Always ask yourself if you would ride a horse to a fence like you have it in dressage.

            As a judge, it is not a 'too advanced frame' is is an incorrect outline all together. The hh are not going through (because if they were the horse would be up/open). The most problematic part is that this kind of outline will tend to lessen the gaits, tend to make them impure, and remember the forefeet can never be placed beyond where the (line of the) nose points, so the more btv the more the horse lands shorter and the forearm freedom is suppressed.

            He looks like he has a very nice natural stride which helps with the satisfactory/fairly good scores no matter what the (degrees of) carriage.
            I.D.E.A. yoda


            • #7
              Thank you, ideayoda!

              I was hoping you would show up. I started to reply with the BTV/Poll discussion, but thought I better hit refresh just in case someone more knowledgeable than me might've already gone there...


              • #8
                What about a more forward and relaxed (lower) frame versus a more collected frame that is not as forward? Many lower level event horses tend to lose impulsion when put in a more "collected" frame. Are the judges looking for more forward or more collected - assuming the collected frame is not quite as loose and forward but otherwise fairly correct? I guess my question is do we ride for the judges or for the actual requirements of the test? Training level is sort of right a the crux of the two ways to go and I'm just not certain what is best. I'm certainly not complaining about scores in the high 20's and low 30's but I am curious as to what is the true, appropriate way to ride the required movements.


                • #9
                  I have one that has never spent a moment behind the vertical in her life, and one who likes to hide there. The one who likes to go behind the vertical, even though she's a MUCH more unimpressive (to put it kindly) mover, gets better scores across the board.

                  I've never seen an eventing judge (either scribing or getting a score sheet) say "frame is too advanced for the level". They seem to reward FORWARD and LIGHT and RELAXED more than anything, in my nonscientific observations. But I see an awful lot of behind the vertical horses winning the dressage, almost never one that is simply accepting the bit unless it's a GOOD mover, ridden very lightly with no resistance.
                  Click here before you buy.


                  • #10
                    MHO from the pics posted is that you've got too much of a frame up front.
                    Look up the definition of 'working' gaits.
                    I wish the judges would carry a Dressage dictionary. They drive me nuts.
                    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                    • #11
                      As someone said, you'll hear the same complaint going on in the dressage world too. In fact, there was just a thread on the same subject on the dressage board this week. A dressage friend recently told me that in order to win Training Level regional championships, your horse had to be going in a Second Level frame. I went to regionals and watched - I think I have to agree. The nice relaxed training level horses got smoked by the impressive collected ones. There definitely seems to be disagreement b/t the horses that do the best (in a more advanced frame) and those that are closer to the test directives.

                      I'm happy (well, slightly embarassed, but happy nonetheless) to give myself as an example. Just took my horse to his first ever recognized event. A simple BN Test A. Turns out he was super "up" (and quick) for dressage. I thought the test went awful - really awful. Not at all the longer lower relaxed frame I had been working on. But, judge apparently liked him being up. Except for the bucking 4s and a couple crooked 5 movements, we got all 7s and 8s. Ended up in second after dressage. Here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O10-jzaGTMo
                      I still watch it and think it's entirely inappropriate for a Beginner Novice test.

                      (Feel free to comment or refer to; I'm nearly impossible to offend and I can guarantee you I've already ripped apart my riding and every aspect of the test)
                      Last edited by Raison d'etre; Jun. 3, 2008, 08:28 AM.
                      He heard the low voice of mercy, not the loud acclaim of glory.


                      • #12
                        I did not really look at the other posts, and it is late at night after a long day but...

                        I guess it depends. I have been working recently on getting my own Novice (and a Paint) in a more upper level way of going. I have never heard of a judge dinging a more upper level frame before. I see how that would make sense possibly, but I have known several horses who had done a few levels above Training drop back down with another rider and do amazing.

                        Personally, I wouldn't worry about it. I have been working on getting my horse in a more uphill balance and pushing for bigger steps etc. It makes him go better when he does this and even though we score well at Training dressage and Novice I want to continue to progress and get a little more brilliance in our work. It will help us out on cross country/stadium coming into combos and such when I can have up more up in front and even more balanced (he is a pretty balanced guy already but still...).
                        T3DE Pact


                        • #13
                          Yeah, this pretty much drives me crazy. I think a novice horse (or a training level dressage horse) should be fairly long and low. However after a number of years in the sport on a number of horses with vastly different conformation I can safely say that most eventing judges will reward a uphill frame at all levels, even at times if the "throughness" is compromised. Unfortunately, horses which are behind the vertical are also rewarded more than those who are soft and engaged but slighty in front (I have had both- and I would personally prefer a horse that has to really be ridden to the vertical than one who ducks behind.)

                          Look at the Rolex videos and imagine the trickle-down effect. 10 years ago at intermediate and advanced we were not asking our horses to go in these frames (of course we weren't asking them to do flying changes in the tests either)


                          • #14
                            I find this trend annoying. I recently took my young Connemara/TB mare to her first horse trials, at BN, and the standards have really changed. Round and overflexed seems to be the name of the game now, to the detriment of what is reasonable to expect from a young horse. She was obedient and forward, she's a nice mover, and our geometry and accuracy was good. She has scored well in training level dressage tests. But, she can pop above the bit in transitions, particularly upward ones. In the past coming above the bit briefly would have been scored as a 5 or 6, but this judge was scoring it as a 4. She also got some 7's, but I was surprised at how harsh the judge was. Every comment referred to whether she was above or on the bit. His overall comments: Needs better connection and to stay consistently on the bit. At beginner novice! I watched a friend in the same division ride a very quiet, slightly behind the vertical test. She went off course at one point, and after she came out she said she thought she would get dinged because it was so low energy and the error. But, the judge scored it 2nd out of 15 horses. May I also add that I hate the BN Test A, and think it's an unreasonable test for young horses. It's all half diagonals and circles, and too many tight turns in a short court.


                            • #15
                              This is the sort of round and round (excuse the lame pun) dialogue you have when you look at the "frame" versus looking at the whole horse. Some horses have a better working connection when more uphill, others when more downhill. You have to do what feels right at the time, on the day, in the five minutes you have in the arena.

                              Your horse might work 90% long and low, and then become a giraffe in the arena. So, do you just not compete until Neddy is totally secure and utterly perfect in the connection? (This might take years! And it won't necessarily help you both enjoy jumping around baby level eventing....)

                              Do you fixate on some concept of a "perfect frame" and not let Neddy deviate one iota? Or do you do what you need to do and maybe compromise a little - make Neddy a little rounder, neck a little lower, maybe sneaking btv, but with a soft connection and a relatively swinging back?


                              • #16
                                I'll attach a picture of my horse...we are schooling 2nd level, about to show at 1st level at a USDF show, and we have been competing at BN for the past year. Actually, this next weekend will be this horse's debut at Novice.

                                Linus typically scores very well at BN dressage - we've won the dressage phase a few times and, only once have we been below the top 5 after dressage. Anyway, this is how we (try to) present ourselves in the ring - definitely not long & low!

                                But I would like to say that he is working in a correct fashion - his hind end is clearly engaged, he is not behind the vertical, and he is not being hand ridden into a frame at all. But if ya'll see it differently, I'm sure you'll let me know.
                                Attached Files


                                • #17
                                  I know of trainers who cram their horses with draw reins just about every ride on the flat and she seems to be rewarded with good scores at the lower lvels. There is no relative elevation achieved by lowering the croup. They are invariably "leg movers" yet all she cares about is a "frame" with the highest point at the third vertabrae and behind the vertical and the judges reward it! Of course the wheels fly off as what few students she has move up the levels. In a way one almost can't blame her-if all you are interested in is faking it to grab a score. I blame the judges.


                                  • #18
                                    I also think it's a little artificial to assume Beginner Novice dressage is "elementary" just because the test is simple. One still wants a horse that is balanced, uphill and forward, because that horse has to go out and do cross country tomorrow. Yes, sure, the jumps are small and the speed is slow, but that may be the highest level this horse and rider will ever do. "Punishing" a horse/rider pair for being overprepared, overtrained, or whatever seems crazy.
                                    Click here before you buy.


                                    • #19
                                      I do think this is a bit all over the map -- I just got dinged on my greenbean BN horse for "restricting him" -- he was curling up because it was pelting rain on him, and I was trying to get him to uncurl a bit, but to no avail. -- but in other ways she quite liked him and was not looking for a horse that was really in self carriage at this point (since he isn't that strong yet)

                                      I did the demo ride for the Waredaca T3d last fall, and got to hear my 2 attempts at Training B critiqued by the 2 judges for the competitors. My horse was moving up to Prelim that weekend and has had a very good education in dressage well beyond your typical Training horse (before I got him!). We typically do 2nd/3rd level work at home although I have promised him I won't take him to a dressage show...

                                      The judges remarked on his uphill outline and self carriage and said they would NOT expect to see it at Training (but also that they wouldn't penalize it as it was correct). I do sit the trot for most of that test -- he goes better that way and has a good trot to sit; someone asked about this and they said that most of the time they see riders who shouldn't be sitting (or horses who are not strong enough for it) at that level, and they wished more people would post...but that if you COULD sit properly and the horse COULD go properly that way, by all means, show it off.

                                      I think the bigger challenge is at the lowest level -- it isn't reasonable to expect a greenbean to look like that -- but what does the judge do when presented with a correct horse "beyond" the level?
                                      The big man -- my lost prince

                                      The little brother, now my main man


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by asterix View Post
                                        I think the bigger challenge is at the lowest level -- it isn't reasonable to expect a greenbean to look like that -- but what does the judge do when presented with a correct horse "beyond" the level?
                                        Exactly. It's a slipper slope. How can a judge penalize more advanced and proper work? They really can't and they aren't. So then people start to aim for a more advanced frame at the lower level to be competitive.

                                        My solution would be that the more advanced frame receive the same score as a correct frame for the level. So, basically no "bonus points" for being more advanced if you know what I mean. The problem is when an advanced horse comes in and gets a good score and a correct training level frame comes in next. It's hard to give them the same score if you put them side by side. But they should. I think.
                                        He heard the low voice of mercy, not the loud acclaim of glory.