The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 11:04 am 
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That's a really interesting article (I'm planning on reading the topic too, but I'm way to busy right now)...

Since my joints are well not as good as the should be I'm not really good for a posting trot... So I have to do a lot of sitting trot...
I always thought that in a sitting trot (yep, I use my new learned words directly and frequently), when correctly done, was as good as a posting trot (Am I even using them correctly now? Oh whatever) correctly done. When you see some people bouncing up and down in the saddle you can't imagine it being less worse for the horse then sitting :P


But, when it comes to the pressure on the back... posting trot puts the pressure (though maybe less shocking pressure) on one point, sitting (though maybe more pressure) on a bigger surface...

Well, I'll have to think this over again...

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 1:44 pm 
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Your point that because of joint condition you prefer to sit to the trot (sitting trot) and find posting to the trot (posting trot) difficult to do, or possibly painful, brought to mind a training puzzle I've been thinking about.

I've been critical of the Reining Horse world, and stock horses in general, sitting trot that I've seen throughout equitation, reining classes, in fact all western disciplines that require showing or riding at the trot.

They, meaning those people involved at all levels, refer to it as the "collected," trot. Except in rare instances it is not "collected," but merely a shuffle, the horse simply taking shorter steps, with very low energy and very low lift from the ground.

The difference is like the letter "O," seen in both lower case and capital or upper case:
o and O.

It happens that this slower, lower trot is quite easy to sit. I wonder if it is more comfortable for the horse as well, as rarely have I found a green horse I've trained doing it spontaneously and willingly without training. In fact, it's fairly rare at liberty as well.

Most horses at liberty, when they trot, tend either to extend, or to collect with what we know as true collection, that is to say, moving their energy inward from either end, and then upward, lifting their hooves higher above the ground and retarding their forward progress speed.

So, though I've criticized this particular kind of western horse and western rider trot as not being truly collected there may be a place for it. I've seen no studies of it because I believe there has been no discrimination between the truly collected trot and this western shuffle trot. Could it be this is a much more comfortable gait for the horse over other kinds of trot? A horse trained to it seems to be able to pretty effortlessly do it for extended periods of time.

I've not heard of any particular hazards to the horse's body being connected to it, nor have I seen any myself, though most horses tend to, especially if professionally trained in this trot, bend at the fourth and fifth vertebrae, to me an unsightly and questionable practice for the horse's health. Some can lift the back, and some cannot in this posture or frame. Or I should say that some do and others do not. Though most do lift the back and attain the rounded up frame that most trainers/owners/riders/handlers try to attain.

I wonder what others experience has been with this faux collected trot?

Donald

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 11:12 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:58 pm
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Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Hmmmm,
Donald I love the way you make me think.
Here we have a lot of saddler trainers. I am not too familiar with the terms they use but they teach the horses to have some strange gaits that are outside of the norm as we would think of classical dressage. My last horse was taught to gait and would walk at the back end whilst trotting with the front legs, going just about nowhere!!! In order to get this action on the front the horse puts it's head up extremely high and it's back is very hollow.
I think the action of the horse in trot is so variable depending on the breed. Some seem to lift the feet, others swing and others yet lift and swing. I would imagine this would be directly linked to the flexibility and condition of the structure of the horse.
Obviously the weight bearing of the horse and the roll over point will dictate certain changes, (race horses are trimmed to lengthen the stride) but I believe each horse has a limit naturally on the variabilty of each gait. (If he is to stay healthy). Those horses that sweep and seem to float nauturally are normally very comfortable in the trot. I am sure back length plays a big part too in the bouncyness of the trot, but again it's relative to the horse overall.
We have an old timer at the stables that is 34. She does this fake trot or what I like to call jog. She ambles in walk and then jogs to catch up. She can do this jog for what seems like forever and can transition smoothly to canter. She does this with no rein contact and is balanced but not collected. She does this jog at liberty too, I have never seen her trot properly, if you push for a trot she will run and fall into canter. Her jog is almost impossible to rise to and is extremely comfortable as it is so uniform and low.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
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I came to this thread on Leigh's advice to read about treeless saddles and their stirrup attachment. I'm finding a discussion that I'd love to continue if anyone is interested. It's the jog, or as Donald called it, slow-shuffle trot and it's training and function.
I used to think that it is all trained, and I guess in most cases it is.
But there are various levels of it. Blue, our horse, has never been trained to do a Western pleasure jog except by asking for up and downward transition with mostly seat and verbal cues when she was rushing at the trot. Her jog is not so slow as to not have a two-beat any more, much faster then required in Western pleasure classes, but it is very distinct from her trot both under saddle and in the pasture. It is very comfortable to sit and she seems happy to do it for extended periods of time. I can post to it but it's much more natural and relaxing for both of us to sit. I'd be interested to find out which breeds of horses do this more or less naturally.

Birgit


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:05 am 
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First Birgit, your Blue is probably doing a nice school trot, medium speed, slight elevation, and is built to care this off so that the rider has the pleasurable task of choosing either to sit or to post.

This trot, a decent school trot, (my name for it from doing lessons) is wonderful for both trail and schooling at the trot for new skills. You can post on the trail, but in the school you can sit to work on collection, fencing for western maneuvers, and especially for upward and downward transitions. It's already got impulsion so you have little effort to expend to increase energy for upward transitions or for collection.

Altea has a similar trot that I'm very fond of, as well as a slight tendency to "gait," at a movement more walk than trot and very smooth indeed. You are so lucky to have this to work with. Training a smooth school trot can be extremely time consuming and even unproductive with some horses. Just aren't build for it.


Annette, here in the U.S., and in other parts of the Americas we've bred horses to do this. Sometimes it becomes extreme. Certainly the training does.

I found that the gaited breeds, Saddlebred especially, to be wonderful to work with as though I was training and riding an English pleasure mount. Not even asking them for gaited movement. A nice side effect of the breeding program. One of the most energetic cow working horses I ever owned was a SBxArabian.

Very flighty until one put a cow in front of her. She thought she was a QH cutting or penning horses. She could work a cow faster than I could cue her, and her only fault was that she loved to work close, too close for competition work. She would almost be touching the cow with her nose.

Fabulous ride on the trail as well. And jumped. This was pre jumping days for me, but when I did begin I wished I'd not sold her before.

As for hollow backed going, I've never felt comfortable or for that matter safe on a horse with a dropped back and abdomen. I know why they are taught that, I think. It feels as though you have a lot of horse in front of you, a more secure feeling than looking over the lowered head and neck of one of the more head down postures I prefer.

There are, fortunately for them, a number of breeds that are used in this way that are in fact bred "uphill," so I presume they can handle this head up posture with less stress than say a TB might experience.

You made a wonderful point on this same issue, that horses bred for it can do it. And too, your observation about them being wonderful to ride at the trot is right on target.

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:43 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
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Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Have a look at this thread on Heather Moffat's forum site http://www.enlightenedequitation.com/ee ... ic=40674.0

This site has how to fit a treeless, how to fit a bitless and some comparison tests
http://www.freewebs.com/alternativehors ... itless.htm

I have an equistation endurance treeless for Arthur and a Barefoot London for Dan, but barefoot slips even with his proper pads under, I cannot remount unless I walk miles to find a gate or tree stump so he seems happy in Romany's old treed saddle. I feel happier knowing I can stand without posting and keep my weight off a saddle, especially on young horses. Otherwise I would be bareback would n't I?
Treeless, buy for your size not the horses, but with Dan's short back even a 16 1/2 inch can look too long. I paid nearly as much for two good treeless pads as I did for one saddle, but these are essential.

Treed saddles need checking frequently, most horses lose and gain 25% body weight through the seasons, so saddles need to fit, a polypad can help.

xx

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:46 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
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Thanks for the input guys. :)
I've looked up some of the references given. I have also found that the number of treeless saddles has hugely increased since I last looked. In the US there are far more Western type treeless. Surprisingly, most have gotten some very good reviews concerning both fit and quality of materials. One that I've tried to find out more about is the Libra Hackabout, made in England. It is very reasonably priced and the only limitation I could find is that rider weight without a very good pad is limited to 168 lbs. Libra makes a couple of other models, too that are even less expensive. I'd be curious if anyone has tried these saddles. I would consider one as an English all-purpose.

Donald,
I think I may have not described Blue's jog very well, should have said it's slow enough to where it's way more trouble to post it than to sit it. (Will have to get some video up soon). It has a regular rhythm but short stride and pretty slow. The trot is more like the school trot you describe but that one we have to ask for unless she's pretty excited to go out, she's just a little on the lazy side. ;)


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:38 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
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Well, I decided to buy my first treeless saddle. I decided to give the Libra Hackabout a chance since I found it used and at a very reasonable price on e-bay. Hopefully I'll get it before Christmas and will have the holidays to play around with it. I will probably have to stop using my treed Passier dressage saddle since Blue's shoulders have gotten bigger.
Not sure what kind of pad I'll use but probably a combination of a sheepskin and a wool pad that will help give me additional spinal clearance.

Birgit


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:22 am 
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I know you'll keep us informed as you explore. Can you point to some information about this brand of treeless?

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:38 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
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Donald, here is the website of the company that makes them.
http://www.libraequestrian.com/
You can find the one I bought under completed listings on e-bay if you enter Libra treeless saddle (meaning you'll have to sign into an account to see them)
I saw that they had several closeouts for sale a couple of days ago that did not get sold, they are also under completed listings on e-bay . Shipping from England is probably around $100.00 which is why I bought mine slightly used from someone in the US.
I looked at reviews at horsetackreview.com (under trail saddles) and they got pretty good reviews. I will still have to add stirrups and a dressage length girth.

I also looked at Suber pads, which seem to be popular with treeless saddles. They are made from cork pieces, sewn into a canvas cover and sell for over $150.00 . Sounds like the kind of thing that might be easy to make from recycled and shredded wine corks.

Birgit


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:46 pm 
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Birgit wrote:
Donald, here is the website of the company that makes them.
http://www.libraequestrian.com/

Couldn't get a hit on the link. Seems to be dead. I did find them on Ebay though, easily. Very interesting.
Birgit wrote:

You can find the one I bought under completed listings on e-bay if you enter Libra treeless saddle (meaning you'll have to sign into an account to see them)
I saw that they had several closeouts for sale a couple of days ago that did not get sold, they are also under completed listings on e-bay . Shipping from England is probably around $100.00 which is why I bought mine slightly used from someone in the US.
I looked at reviews at horsetackreview.com (under trail saddles) and they got pretty good reviews. I will still have to add stirrups and a dressage length girth.

I also looked at Suber pads, which seem to be popular with treeless saddles. They are made from cork pieces, sewn into a canvas cover and sell for over $150.00 . Sounds like the kind of thing that might be easy to make from recycled and shredded wine corks.

Birgit



Thanks for the information.

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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Love is Trust, trust is All
~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:42 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
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I just checked the url for the libra website. It's correct. I couldn't get on today either so their site must be down temporarily.

Birgit


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2010 3:39 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
Posts: 1072
Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
I have Raddery Equine Flex Ride stirrups http://www.bettersaddles.co.uk/acatalog/Stirrups.html and also flexi jumping stirrups http://www.thehorsebitshop.co.uk/produc ... 35&xSec=33
these help reduce joint pain, along with daily TURMERIC.

For my young horses I try not to sit which reduces the knee joint work as well as keep weight off their backs, and I stand in my stirrups at walk, trot and canter, helps fitten me as well, although I can't manage as much as when I used to ride for race exercise and on the gallops.

The choice is to sit, to post or to stand, or some of each, if we are only going to sit we don't need to waste time adding a saddle!???

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2010 3:52 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
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Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Quote:
It is very reasonably priced and the only limitation I could find is that rider weight without a very good pad is limited to 168 lbs.
and the manufacturer's that do not make that statement should include it. All treeless saddles need very good pads, Sue has already mentioned Christ pads, they make under saddle pads too, fit with shims if necessary but ensure fit of any saddle. Polypads can help with many at reasonable cost.
Leigh mentioned Ansur, in the UK these are Solutions saddles, worth a good look through their website pages even if you choose to buy elsewhere, this is the treeless standard we aim at, for eventing i.e. Horse Trials like Badminton, show jumping, endurance etc.
http://www.solutionsaddles.com/
especially see news scroll down to safety in eventing, and the why go treeless pages, if you don't have time to read the whole website. xx

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:00 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
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Susie,
thanks for all the links. I agree with you on the weight limit. I found one manufacturer that had a weight limit of 120 lbs for use of the saddle without specialty pads. Better to be safe than sorry.
There are so many good pads out there. Both the suber pads and the Christ lambskin pads look very comfy. But they are also very pricey. I suspect that with the Suber you lose the close-contact that is the advantage with a treeless. I'm considering using a whole sheepskin with furry side facing the horse as part of the padding. They are far less expensive to buy.
With many of the treeless saddles that I looked at I was also wondering what justifies the very high price other than the fact that they look very similar to competition type treed saddles.
I suspect that the first couple of treeless saddles that came out were more expensive to design and make and then other manufacturers copied some of the ideas and found ways to cut production costs, resulting in an ever growing number of far less expensive saddles. This is tough for the saddle makers but maybe good for the horses that can now benefit. This is why I'm so eager to find out if a less expensive saddle with adequate padding will still do a good job.
The one thing I can still not figure out is why some of the treeless saddles have no spine clearance or gullet. It seems to me that this would have to cause some restriction at least in the same way that overly tight clothing would for people.
To have panels that rest only on the muscles of the horse's back just makes more sense to me, maybe I'm missing something.
It was interesting to read that one of the more expensive saddles, I believe it was the Fhoenix, is made with memory foam. I've only used memory foam for dog bedding for arthritic animals and that type wore very thin in just a couple of years, makes me wonder how long even the more expensive types will last without compressing significantly.

Birgit


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