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Santas_Girl

Does It Bother You? Dressage question.

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Does it bother you when people refer to dressage as "just flatwork" or simply "training of the horse"? I realize that what we do in dressage is flatwork and that it is training, but it often times seems as though the people who refer to it in such a way that they seem to be downplaying the sport.

How do you see our sport? Do you see it as "just flatwork"? And if not, how do you elaborate about it to those who don't see it as a challenge. There seems to be an "anybody can ride a test" attitude out there--which anybody can, and that's a good thing...but to work one's way through the levels takes a lot of dedication and hard work. Dressage in and of itself is more than just riding a test.

[ 12-08-2005, 09:08 PM: Message edited by: Santas_Girl ]

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SG, are you writing a book or something?? [Wink] you ask the most probing questions...most of which I can't answer properly, but am curious as to how others respond.

My 2 cents worth: I've been around way too many people who take things way too seriously and as such can't be gracious and civil when the situation requires it. Present company excluded, of course--the HC crowd on this board. [big Grin]

I don't see dressage as "flatwork." I see it as its own means to its own end. Dressage principles can be applied to just about any kind of training and they should be. But there's nothing like the connection that you get with the horse when you know you're doing it all correctly and your horse is where s/he's supposed to be physically. Few other riding experiences I have had can match that sensation.

There will always be those who don't understand true dressage and will be less than supportive of it, just like with any other kind of sport. But dressage needs more people who can promote it in such a way that we can educate and illustrate what it can do for both horse & rider, instead of perpetuating the stereotypical dressage queen type of rude, snobbish, rod-stuck-up-the-you-know-where attitude.

And yes, I happen to believe that anyone can ride an intro test, if only for the feedback that you get. It's how I got started...and the rest is history. The hard work and talent is a choice and a development. One I know I can do, the other I'm not sure about yet...but to discourage the attempt is beyond unthinkable to my mind.

Hope this makes sense. Sorry about the soapbox but you had to ask.... [smiley Wavey]

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Dressage is very hard. It is training to perfection. It is most defintly a sport! It does annoy me if people say it is not it takes lots of time and work.

Jessy

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People that do not ride Dressage cannot understand the power of it. It is like me with jumping, I don't understand the thrill my jumper friends are talking about when they have the perfect jump over that cross country course.

I don't blame people when they don't understand dressage, but I also don't appreciate it when they refuse to try. My first dressage trainer (bless her soul) once asked me: "Riding is fun, but isn't it better when you learn all the bells and whistles?"

There is so much to learn in dressage, not just the how but the why. These are the things that make people really appreciate the hard work and dedication that we put into it.

Sorry for babbling.

Olivia

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quote:

Originally posted by deequeue:

And yes, I happen to believe that anyone can ride an intro test, if only for the feedback that you get. It's how I got started...and the rest is history. The hard work and talent is a choice and a development. One I know I can do, the other I'm not sure about yet...but to discourage the attempt is beyond unthinkable to my mind.

Deequeue, I hope you weren't thinking that I was advocating discouraging such an attempt. That's not the case at all.

I don't compete currently. But, I tried my hand in it a few years back and did an intro test and learned a lot.

In fact, one of the reasons I love dressage is because it doesn't seem real discriminatory.

I guess my point is that it seems a lot of people don't respect dressage for what it is. It was even suggested on another HC board that dressage shouldn't even be considered it's own discipline/sport.

Maybe it doesn't make me mad as much as it does frustrate me. I'm by no means a stereotypical dressage queen. Sometimes I just feel as though the sport is not given enough credit.

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Does it bother you when people refer to dressage as "just flatwork" or simply "training of the horse"? No and yes. One because that is what it is. Dressage is the training of the horse and it is flatwork. However it is HARD flatwork! [smile] . I'm the kind of person who doesn't really care what people say. They can "down play" dressage all they want, but lets see them ride "just a test". Of cource everyone can ride one, but not everyone can ride it right. i see dressage as flat work, but flat work that challenges the horse/rider physically and mentally. Also, with a proper use of dressage you are almost gareenteed to place in almost every sport of horsebackriding with a few slight changes. Hunters that win on the circut that I show on have a training/first level position and movement. Western is basically the same as dressage. Anyways I give up [surrender] I could go on for hours baout this, but you would get bored. [smile] .

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LOL - I drive and trail ride (which we all know anyone or any horse can do). I think everyone in every sport can relate to your question.

This is a question filled with a lot of grey area. Is it flatwork? Well technically yes. Unless I have missed something the dressage court is still without hills, dales other geography. Is it demanding on the horse? Yes, no question about that. Difficult on the rider too, there are so many suble body movements.

If you truly watch all sports each have their level of difficulty.

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You know SG, this happens typically in all disciplines. As you know, I ran barrels for years. Do you know how many people that don't run barrels put it down. They stereotype all barrel horses as being nutty and out of control and all barrel riders as being not able to ride. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not to say there aren't some like that, but there are some like that in every discipline. It takes a lot of time, energy and training to make a nice barrel horse and then go out there and win money, awards and eventually world titles, just as it does in dressage. One thing switching to dressage has done for me, is to make me appreciate other disciplines more now. Knowing how much time and effort it takes to accomplish one's goals in their chosen discipline. I think people that down grade dressage have just not ridden it for themselves. It is much more complicated than just getting on a horse and going and doing it.

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funny thing..i have conversations (more like debates lol) about this kind of this with my best friend and also my boyfriend all the time.

now first my best friend, god bless her soul..is sometimes, a little set in her ways about things and doesnt let me show or teach her about anything. She thinks that dressage is just a bunch of pansies running around in circles and that her horse could do dresage because he prances and "arches his neck" yes, any horse can do dressage but ive seen her horse and to compete, hed need some work lol. im constantly telling her there is so much more to it...

as for my boyfriend, he is a jock, mostly he just plays football now but he used to play just about every sport under the sun and we have our "debates" over whether or not horse-sports (particularily dressage since thats what i do) are really sports. usually we end up "debating" our points to his dad and usually i win when i explain the fact that just like any other sport dressage (and other horse-sports) take a signifigant amount of dedication, stength and ability. Not only do you have to physically and mentally train yourself but a 1000 pound animal too!

well, thats my horse sport rant.....

edited to say:

OH and another thing i hate (sorry for the long rants) is when people who dont ride or dont REALLY ride (if you know what i mean) always say things like "oh, all you have to do is sit there and the horse does everything; anyone could do that" its like do they not know how much effort is put into not only the training and everyday care of the horse but the riding. people always ask how i keep my figure and they are always suprised when i say "i ride, lots" i mean, if your really riding, it should be a workout.

[ 12-09-2005, 12:57 AM: Message edited by: Maple ]

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Hmm...

Interesting comments. While I'm not a dressage person by a longshot, I can honestly say that those who think it is easy and nothing.. are living in a dream world.

Before I became a computer guru, before I was a gallop girl at the track, I spent some time near Santa Barbara. I had the opportunity through a friend to work a bit and take lessons a few times from Charlotte Bredahl (I think that's how you spell her name). And I can tell you that OMG that was the hardest thing I ever did on a horse. Every freaking muscle in my body was in use. Now.. I've been on tough racehorses that took a lot of strength. I still think the dressage horse was much harder.

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SG--I'm sorry, I didn't think that's what you meant at all, I was just making the statement that anyone who is snobbish and exclusionary to the extent that they would discourage someone from taking their down-the-trail pony in to do an intro test should be, well, horse-whipped, if you'll pardon the expression. [Roll Eyes] I wasn't in the least referring to you or your question. [big Grin]

Boo--I can take your paragraph and substitute barrel racing for "western pleasure" and it would still be relevant. Except maybe the nutty part...most pleasure horses are just dull and bored, not nutty per se.

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"Oh, someone riding in circles, it must be dressage".

Anyone who thinks dressage is 'simply' or 'merely' anything has no idea of what's going on. The gymnastics involved in getting the horse (and rider) able to physically preform movements is very demanding, To preform them with beauty and grace is even more difficult and takes years of practice. The whole idea is to make the horse look like he is dancing without effort or aids used by the rider. So in a way for the uneducated it should look easy and simple. It doesn't bother me because these people don't have a clue.

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A great many of you made most of the points I would make, but there is one that got missed (or, in not reading thoroughly, I may have missed it!)

Dressage is not just a sport, not just difficult, not just challenging, not just training, and not just flatwork.

Dressage is a training SYSTEM. And I'd be willing to bet that ALL of us on this board do not understand the system completely; nor do we practice it thoroughly. It is a complex and demanding training system. And when asked what dressage IS, I sometimes find it useful to compare it to Parelli and his training system of games .... except that dressage is a system refined through millinia and belonging to no one person.

And Zakima going along with the thought that the majority of us do not practice dressage properly .... dressage SHOULD include working over uneven terrain, and even include some simple gymnastic (jumping) work. However, most dressage riders skip those parts. (Unfortunately.)

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quote:

Originally posted by Des:

Now.. I've been on tough racehorses that took a lot of strength. I still think the dressage horse was much harder.

The dressage horses may be harder, but those race horses on the track are a heck of a lot scarier if you ask me!! [Eek!] You couldn't PAY me to gallop a racehorse around the track. Scares the pants off of me.

~Shelly~

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SG - Yes, it is definitely frustrating to try to describe to the non-horse person exactly what it is that I do. If you take longer than 60 seconds, they zone out, and you have lost them for good. So how to explain all of dressage in 60 seconds or less and really get across the complexity of what it is that we do. Here is how I tackle the task, I say (and yes, I do use the horrendous term "flatwork" simply because they are complete non-horse people and they need things in easy to understand terms), "I do dressage with my horse. It is highly complex flatwork that does not involve jumping. Think of it as an elegant ballet on horseback where you strive for the ultimate communication and harmony between horse and rider." That is my 60 seconds or less sum up. The response I generally get back is, "Wow, that sounds difficult." Ahhh . . . just what I was going for!!! That also usually intrigues them and gets them to ask more questions. A dialogue is started, and hence an education is started. The people that I work with all now have a rudimentary education in dressage basics. They can understand enough to know when I talk about my rides and shows to know what was good or bad and why, and they ask questions. They actually follow my progress with Raz.

Now if you are talking about the horsey crowd that calls the dressage riders "just flatwork" - well that's just plain irritating. They SHOULD know better. If that is truly their opinion, then they are uneducated and do not deserve my ire. I respect their disciplines. They should respect mine. Therefore, I don't waste my time or energy on them. I pass them by. I have better things to do. Like school Raz to get even better at what we do!! [big Grin]

~Shelly~

[ 12-09-2005, 11:06 AM: Message edited by: smithereens_86 ]

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Well Rio, I do get to do a little bit of hill work when I ride out, but considered it more of a break for my horse, from the arena, rather than part of the training system. So now I have learned something new again! [big Grin]

I'm with you Smithereens, running a horse on the track can be quite scary. QH's have been clocked in excess of 55 mph on the track. The fastest barrel horses have been clocked leaving the 3rd barrel and running home at the NFR, at 30 mph. That I can handle. [big Grin]

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rio toller--love to read your posts. i recently saw a dvd from a parelli professional associate (i am not asking for, nor promoting, a discussion about his system) named karen ralf, who specializes in dressage. she talked about exactly this point--that it is a system of building blocks. she broke it down into a couple of very simple things to ask yourself: where am i going (line of direction), what gait am i in, (walk, trot canter), what is the elevation, what is the tempo (if i tapped my foot to the rhythm what would that be), where is the weight (level or on the hindquarters), is the horse flexed laterally or vertically or not at all, can i move my horse's hindquarters over here, his head and neck over there, and then can i do any number of combinations of these things. and then she demonstrated it--it was a lot of fun and very educational to watch.

s.g., i would suggest that you don't allow yourself to get angry over comments made by people who don't know what they are talking about. take that energy and go have fun and learn with your horse.

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This is a great topic btw. My opinion is that every horse should be able to do basic dressage. Collection, extension, suppleness, leg yields, turn on forehand/haunches, etc., these are all things that are done in EVERY discipline; whether these movements are called by the same terminology doesn't matter.

So commonly I am riding my horse and my friends who do WP look at me like I am doing something alien or foreign when I ask for a shortened stride, or a leg yield across the arena, or just make 10m circles here and there. Well, my question is doesn't a WP horse do the same thing? Same movements? shorten stride, lengthen stride, turn on the haunch, move off the leg?

Other disciplines share so much with dressage, and thats why I think its appropriate to call dressage "training".

Don't get me wrong, Dressage is a sport all its own, I just don't think of as uniquely until you get to the higher levels. But on a basic level, your just riding your horse.

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quote:

Originally posted by smithereens_86:

quote:

Originally posted by Des:

Now.. I've been on tough racehorses that took a lot of strength. I still think the dressage horse was much harder.

The dressage horses may be harder, but those race horses on the track are a heck of a lot scarier if you ask me!!
[Eek!]
You couldn't PAY me to gallop a racehorse around the track. Scares the pants off of me.

~Shelly~

Actually the good racehorses. were like cowponies while galloping. Baby horses were a bit wide eyed.. they just didn't know anything. Older horses knew their job and did it with no fuss.

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quote:

Originally posted by Des:

Actually the good racehorses. were like cowponies while galloping. Baby horses were a bit wide eyed.. they just didn't know anything. Older horses knew their job and did it with no fuss.

Heh . . . I have NO need for speed!! I'm a big chicken. A lengthened canter is as fast as you get me to go. [big Grin]

~Shelly~

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quote:

Originally posted by OnTheRun:

Collection, extension, suppleness, leg yields, turn on forehand/haunches, etc., these are all things that are done in EVERY discipline; whether these movements are called by the same terminology doesn't matter.


Actually,since collection in dressage is not incorporated until 2nd level, I don't think it is really considered as basic. I rode western for years and collection in western is nothing like collection in dressage. [big Grin]

[ 12-09-2005, 09:03 PM: Message edited by: Boocoo ]

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quote:

Originally posted by Boocoo:

quote:

Originally posted by OnTheRun:

Collection, extension, suppleness, leg yields, turn on forehand/haunches, etc., these are all things that are done in EVERY discipline; whether these movements are called by the same terminology doesn't matter.


Actually,since collection in dressage is not incorporated until 2nd level, I don't think it is really considered as basic. I rode western for years and collection in western is nothing like collection in dressage.
[big Grin]
srry i wasnt clear. Collection as an idea are identical in all disciplines, of course they cater to each riding style. Collection is a necessity for any horse to be "on the ball". It may not be incorporated into the tests until 2nd level, but that doesn't mean you start introducing your horse to collection until you have completed training and first does it? no. You touch on collection and extension from day one, by seat cues to shorten, lengthen, move from the hind. you get the picture.

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Um, im not a dressage rider. Respect the sport very much as not any horse can excel in it. Takes a lot of work to be good. Your horse is more trained than the average horse if you ask me. Just think about it, you horses uses more muscles where other horses did not know that they even had. Get what I mean. I would not get all worked up about it, but just explain to the person what it takes and how long it takes to get to the levels of dressage riding.

Marc

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I see dressage as a sport as well as an art. Kind of like the ballet of the equestrian world. As mentioned here it can and should be applied in every discipline, my best friends TWH who is shown and competed on successfully had some dressagy aspects in his training, and he as well as the trainer's other horses do extremely well in the ring.

like any sport it takes hard work and dedication, and it can be physically and internally good for both horse and rider.

Just my 2 cents.

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quote:

Originally posted by OnTheRun:

Collection as an idea are identical in all disciplines, of course they cater to each riding style. Collection is a necessity for any horse to be "on the ball". It may not be incorporated into the
tests
until 2nd level, but that doesn't mean you start introducing your horse to collection until you have completed training and first does it? no. You touch on collection and extension from day one, by seat cues to shorten, lengthen, move from the hind. you get the picture.[/QB]

Generally speaking, as all horses are different, the horse has to be built up to develop the strength to carry. Henceforth the levels that bring the horse up through the training system. So if a horse is schooling training level, they will not be working on collection and extension yet, as the horse may not be developed to that level yet, since training level's purpose is to confirm that the horse is moving freely forward in a clear and steady rythm and accepting contact with the bit. The collected trot for example has to be developed using systematic training of lateral and longitudinal excersises. Therefore an Intro or Training level horse has not gotten that far in the training scale. As for the extended trot, a horse has to learn to lengthen his stride at the beginning of training before he can be expected to be strong enough and supple enough to extend. Extension comes out of collection, so once again it is a little further up the training school than a green horse would be expected to be at. That's what I love about dressage. Being able to work through the training scale. It's just absolutely awesome! [big Grin]

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Boocoo --- if you think of your trail riding as part of your training system (whether you are on hills or not,) and not just as "a break from the ring," you will get a lot more benefits out of it. Trail riding is a really good opportunity to work on impulsion and power. Most horses enjoy working on trails and relaxation is the biggest challenge. If you can get relaxation and impulsion on the trail ride, you've really given yourself and your horse something to think about! You can also do lateral work on trail rides, but be careful and precise. You may find that you only want to ask for a few steps before straightening again. Don't get sucked into thinking "it's a long trail, I can do shoulder-in for the next half mile!!!" LOL

On inclines, a nice forward trot really helps them understand how to use their hind end (not to mention really working those muscles,) and if the incline is very slightly uphill, I find most horses love to practice extensions on them.

Nick --- [smiley Wavey] Hey there!!! How are you doing? Have you had a chance to look into my questions about Pepper & Salt lately? I was wondering if you'd had time to find him.

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All right, Rio, no shoulder in for a 1/2 mile! [big Grin]

This is great advice and I will put it to good use. Thank you! I am at a barn now where I have more access ot trails, at least getting down in the river bottom and there are some good hills along the way! Now that I am able to ride in the morning while my son is at school, I can trail ride more! My horse definitely has impulsion out there. Don't know about relaxed yet, but we will work on that!

[ 12-12-2005, 11:27 AM: Message edited by: Boocoo ]

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Haha, this is perfect timing. The other night, I was browsing dressage saddles on ebay, and my mom came over and asked what I was doing. I told her that I was lookinga dressage saddles, and her response was "I thought you didn't like dressage. Isn't it just boring and showy riding?" [Roll Eyes]

I told her she must've been thinking about Western Pleasure.

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quote:

"I do dressage with my horse. It is highly complex flatwork that does not involve jumping. Think of it as an elegant ballet on horseback where you strive for the ultimate communication and harmony between horse and rider."


Oh my goodness Shelly!! I LOVE it!! I always have such a hard time describing my sport to people!! Can I copy you and put it in my signiature??? lol [big Grin]

[ 12-14-2005, 07:09 PM: Message edited by: HorseCrazyGirl ]

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