ridecamp@endurance.net: [endurance] Endurance & Dressage

[endurance] Endurance & Dressage

Kevin M. Pfoertsch (safehavn@po.fast.net)
Wed, 10 Jan 96 18:42 EST

Yes, you most definitely can combine the two disciplines. In fact it is
absolutely the best way to train, soften and round the endurance horse so
that the muscles can be used most efficiently. The responsiveness to the
aids developed by serious dressage training (which after all, is simply
"training") and the synergy between horse and rider are translated into a
symphony of movement both on trail and in the ring!

However, you may want to ask yourself a few questions about your goals for
each sport. Not every horse is suitable for both disciplines-way of going
and attitude being two of the important points to consider. Our "old man"
is a spectacular mover, does piaffe and passage at freedom in the pasture,
and has an extension that is a joy to behold. BUT...his mind is simply not
there when we enter the ring. It is clearly a punishment to him--and not
even the finest trainers/instructors (including Col. Alfred Kitts) could
turn this amazing athletic ability into dressage suitability.

If you are just going to intersperse an occasional dressage show, perhaps a
schooling show or one of the adjuncts to combined tests, with some endurance
work, then a purebred Arab of suitable movement and temperament will do.
BUT...if you want to do some serious showing with an Arab, you will probably
have to limit yourself to Arab-only shows. Today's dressage judges (and I
say this despite the official proclamations from the AHSA rulebook or USDF
doctrines) are looking for Warmblood movement and presentation. It is sad
that not every breed can play on a level dressage field--but that is what
experienced cross-over riders have found (at least in my area--the East).

And again if you are serious and want to progress through the upper levels,
you will soon find that the demands of collection will develop a different
set of muscles which may not be suitable for the long, low, efficient
profile necessary for trail. However, there should be little conflict
through 2nd level.

I have found that the Morgan often offers the best compromise--almost
natural collection coupled with brilliant, correct movement (but watch out
for those bred for carriage-they often wing and that simply won't suit in
dressage). Another good choice would be an Anglo-Arab. You get good size
and movement, usually a pretty good brain and propensity to do ring work and
OK recoveries. And surprisingly Trakheners, if not too bulked up, can do
both jobs.

There is nothing that compares to an obedient, flexible, softly rounded
horse who floats down the trail--and dressage is the key to achieving, and
maintaining, a long career both on the trail and in the ring.


Diane @ Safe Haven (buried under 3' of snow)