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WP v. dressage riding

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This topic may have been drug around plenty already, but I thought I'd throw in another point of view for discussion.

I rode the AQHA circuit for quite a number of years, and have owned (and still own) my share of WP horses. Since starting dressage, I've had to learn how to ride all over again, and being a more "mature" person, it's been tough to break old habits.

Anyone who's ridden WP in a competitive setting knows that it's all about how broke the horse is. Keep in mind that most WP is riding a horse with big spurs and no contact. Draped reins and a deep seat are the order of the day. Think about it--unless that horse is trained to not move out and forward, as most are, you're relying on him sucking back and wanting to stay slow and sleepy. Spurs are there to keep him slow and in a "frame" more than to urge him on.

Whether you agree with this type of movement or not is irrelevant, it's just what IS. Now, take that same drapey-rein rider and put them on a forward-moving, big strided dressage horse, and it's a whole different ballgame. The instinct is to either grab those reins and create "contact" which of course a drapey-rein rider knows nothing about, or sit deep and watch a horse's head to make sure it's in a "frame." Learning how to use aids in a completely different way, but also a more rational and logical way, is a challenge since your body and hands are used to a certain feel or lack thereof.

My point here is, it's almost more difficult to ride a trained WP horse than a trained dressage horse, if only because of the way the aids are used. I've been struggling with this on Jag, and I'm analyzing why I'm having so much difficulty with it, apart from just being old and creaky. [Wink] My tendency has been to over-ride him, use too much of everything, instead of just feeling him and trusting that he'll relax and do what he's being trained to do.

If you agree or disagree, I'd love to read your responses.

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Great topic! I too used to show QH circuit, Congress, World Show, the whole nine yards. (I got completely burned out.) But anyway, I did primarily hunt seat and had halter horses and would catch ride my parent's WP horses when I was bored at shows. I can say I never really liked going slow and did not have the attention span to ride western very often and got burned out on HUS because I felt they often featured the same characteristics, only went a little faster. I putzed around the house on Winston for several years, going to a show every once in a while before I got the dressage bug.:-)

I like the fact I can now see their ears:-) The only real problems I have had to overcome are my crappy hands from messing with their mouths so much and allowing my body to move with the horse and stop being such a statue. I love the fact that there is no lunging horses, we like them to have energy and on a cold windy day if they are fast, who cares! I live in a neighborhood of WP/QH people and I know they think I am the freak with all of the high headed horses flying around. (Winston now included, he likes his new job). I can honestly say I don't miss the show scene at all but I will always have a soft spot for QH's. If I could find another Winston that could do dressage, I would love it. It is a very different world and I feel I am now exposed to so much more, so many new people: I don't know...maybe everyone has a clique and I will stay away from slamming training methods. Hmmm...all I can think of for now!

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