[RC] Dressage and Endurance - RISTREE
I have an 8 y.o. Arab/Trak with whom I'm competing in both dressage and endurance. Have been doing dressage for years; endurance/distance for only the last five or so.
I am fortunate to have been taught by a gentleman named Walter Zettl; you may want to pick up his book. It's entitled "Dressage in Harmony" and that is very much Walter's focus. I also have a local instructor who harangues me about my equitation and such and makes sure I don't get off track. They are both wonderful, and complement each other very much.
To me, some red flags with dressage instructors are the following:
Gadgets of any sort (draw reins, gogues, tight nosebands, etc.)
Battles which last more than about ten seconds. Sure, a horse may need to be corrected (for my horse, it is usually a request from my leg), but if an entire session involves pulling, kicking and forcing, it ain't dressage.
A horse which is less soft, forward, happy, swinging at the end than it was at the beginning of a ride.
Any direction which is intended for my aids to be MORE rather than less. That is, we should be striving to have lighter leg, seat, and rein aids. Might they need to be more firm or insistent momentarily? Sure. But then the goal should be to "forgive" or "make an offer" or "allow". This doesn't mean throwing the horse away, but the idea with dressage is to show the horse the way, then allow him to perform.
An instructor who does not appreciate that dressage is SIMPLE but not easy. If you aren't working on your own equitation, your horse's overall balance and strength, and the best way to stay out of your horse's way, you're not getting your money's worth.
Best of luck to you in your quest.
As an aside, shoulder in *is* a fairly tough exercise to perform correctly, especially on a horse new to it, or if you haven't ridden it regularly on a horse who is performing it correctly. All you really need to know if you've got it right is a person or a mirror right in front of your travel path to tell you if your horse is traveling on three tracks (outside hind is one, inside hind and outside fore is another, and inside fore is the third track). It is really easy to do a "neck-in" without actually bringing the horse's outside shoulder in from the track of the hind legs. I've done many of those! <chuckle>