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Hi,

    I thought I share this reply to your post from the group in this forum (new thread), which could help to better understanding of dressage and the balanced horse.

    Your observations are to the point and correct, and as I’ve said before, one does not need to be an expert to be able to evaluate today’s horsemanship and riding. I would like to add that the term “engaging the hind end” is very much misunderstood. It is not about whether the horse engages his hind legs but it is about how he does it. After all the horse has to engage his hind to some point in order to move. The lowering of the hind legs joints is done primarily by the horse that is willing to do it (you cannot make them, hence spurs are of no use), which in dressage refers to just that. 
    In other words the dressage horse must be first and for most trained and conditioned to the required fitness, in which case he then feels like he needs to exert the “surplus” of energy, which when trained and ridden correctly is put into the required movement while satisfying the horse in giving him the outlet for his energy surplus. In other words the willingness of the horse does not refer to some willingness of the horse to submit to the rider and be obedient, but it mainly refers to a simple fact, the horse feels like doing that which is required from him. 
    This is also the reason why we do not turn out dressage horses, same as racehorses, because as the racehorse is trained and conditioned to feel like running (when trained by a horseman), so is the dressage horse conditioned and trained to become willing to exert the immense energy that it needs in the higher level of dressage. If horses like these are turned out they will simply explode out of control when free on an open field and more likely get injured. In addition to this they will strained their bodies to the point that the next day they will be sore which could take weeks to get out of the system. They will also discharge much of the energy build up in them during the conditioning process hence there is no surplus of it for the horse to put out. 
    The genuine dressage horse is extremely fit animal and if ridden incorrectly (bound up) it will simply explode under the incompetent rider and buck him off. One has to be a very advanced trainer and rider to ride and train dressage, which takes minimum of twenty years or more (several horses per day), while the time spent doing it does not necessarily guarantee that one even becomes good at it or gets to understand it.

    The biggest confusion among today's riders is that they are talking about horse putting his hind under, completely ignoring the lowering of the hind joints, which is what actually collects the energy and balances the horse. Horse can put the hind under in two forms, putting his head down below the impulsion line, hunch his back up which then causes the hind to go under in this deformed position. 
    The second form is when the horse lowers its hind legs joints which will elevate the head and the front end, causes the hind legs to go under, which in turn straightens out the back that concaved under the weight of the rider, thus the horse is not only collected but also balanced. So, those who ride the horse's head will get the first (most dressage riders today), the latter you will more likely not see this day and age.

    Just for short note, the dressage is for very advanced riders only. It takes about 10 years of riding several horses per day, under an advanced rider (teacher) supervision (working, not playing) before a person can say he or she is dressage rider, providing he or she had the talent to become one. This does not make him a trainer yet, that takes another ten years. To become a genuine teacher (instructor) that takes another ten years, which then makes such person 30 years full time employment as a dressage rider and twenty years as dressage trainer before he is qualified as a teacher (old days term master). 
    The concept of today’s dressage is preposterous and ridiculous. The dressage riders of today are like kids that skipped the elementary and high school education and bought themselves college books and after reading them proclaimed themselves college graduates, while making up their own and new standards for the graduation test. 
    All in all there is no dressage in existence, and as far as the balanced horse is concerned, when and if you actually see one, especially in dressage, consider yourself lucky and do not expect the horse to place well at these shows either. Reason for the latter is of course obvious, the interest of the dressage society is in promoting the industry and recruiting as many members as possible, while the furthest thing from these peoples mind is the improvement or at least the preservation of once used training and riding style. They have simply degraded the dressage level to some elementary riding level to make this more feasible for the nincompoops, especially those with money, because in the heads of these fools the dressage is some form of riding for the "highly sophisticated people" or the "uper class". 
    In reality it is equivalent as owning a very expensive poodle, while at the same time insuring some income for the dressage society. In short, the man or a woman that is successful in the world (lawyer, doctor etc.) is a complete idiot around horses and nature, especially those in dressage. As one time one trainer told me: "Lee you will never make it in this business" and when I asked why, he replied: "It is not about horsemanship it is about getting as much of the green stuff of these rich idiots as you can. They may be successful in their world, but when they enter the stable they leave their brains out and it is up to you to get as much money out of them as you can". Why would these professionals teach anything these people, if making them more sharp would mean making less money. 
    Hence they leave them to their self-absorbed intellects that thinks that can be educated in horsemanship by reading (study) and just simply take their money whenever they can. We used to say the "Horse World" today is like a pool full of sharks and when you jump in it you will get eaten, at least you will be taken for some of your money. In the horse world they do not walk the talk, they talk and you are doing the walking (dancing to their tone).

    The main reason for dressage, or better-said riding in high collection for short periods of time was primarily done for the conditioning of the horse. In other words, a horse that was exercised in high collections had no problem to carry himself willingly (felt like it, became his nature) at all times in the so-called campaign level of collection and balance. 
    See pictures above (forum banner) and you will see the difference of the two horses, both have a lose rein, yet one is in the so-called campaign balance and the other not, the other being the easterner. If you click on the following link (here), you will see that the riders in that picture present complete opposite of anything that dressage actually stands for. Obvious things to see are that not one of those horses accepted the bit, which can be seen in the fact that the horses flex at the middle, or close to the middle of their necks instead of at the pole, as against the picture above in this forum banner. 
    This of course results that they are behind the so-called vertical (refusing the bit) and can no longer move in balance, to which you referred in the group as per your observations at the show. 
    This is how ridiculous the whole thing is, that people win medals and these Olympic riders were not able to accomplish a simple thing with their horses, as is the acceptance of the bit, which any half decent rider should accomplish on an average horse in about three days. That is the irony of the whole display which they call dressage. Absurd and ridiculous, very mild words to describe it, especially if these people think of them selves as some type of sophisticated riders, hence they look so serious and blown up, while before a horseman-rider they make absolute fools out of them selves. 
    Typical cases of how education can make people conceited and as a result of it turning them into complete idiots. An idiot is a person that receives education and becomes stupid on account of it. They say that knowledge is power, then turn and say that power corrupts, just how stupid is that? Reading and study provides knowledge and makes people knowledgeable, but only few grow wise, while most grow stupid from knowledge that they do not comprehend. Hence reading books on riding and horse training is detrimental to all who read about things they cannot do, hence cannot understand.  
    In some forums people made fun when I pointed out that those riding dressage have serious faces, and that it is not because they have a cold heart (as I've suggested, because they want to win) but it is because they are concentrating. Well, I've seen my little kids with a concentration of Einstein when they were taking a dump in their dippers. In short if you need to concentrate to ride and present dressage you really suck in it. 
    On one hand they compare it to dance and on the other they need to concentrate, some thinking that it belongs to some higher intellectual level of riding. Yes, it is like a dance, you float, you blend with the other's motion. What dancer needs to concentrate on dancing unless he is learning to dance? Once advanced it all comes from the music, no thinking, no concentration and no intellect. 
    A dance, just like a genuine dressage, has nothing to do with thinking or intellect but it is all about the harmony in motion between two individuals, only idiots think and concentrate during that process. 
    In the old days when you were learning how to dance things like a waltz, they draw the foot steps on the floor and one was stepping into them, learning the basic steps and concentrating. Now, did you ever heard or saw anyone competing in this level of dancing? Of course not, it would be ludicrous, but the dressage people today do just that when competing in all the lower level "dressage". 
    Now tell me, are the people competing in these "lower dressage level" highly intellectual or are they mentally challenged? The truth is self-evident, one just needs to look and see it. Do these people look like they are dancing or do they look like they are taking a dump or humping a broom stick? See for your self!

Thanks for the post.

Lee

Ps: There is an old saying: “Find me ten slowest horses in the world, then race them and one will be a winner”. Congratulation to the Olympic Team? We should rather say that we are ashamed of you! Ashamed for participating in such absurd and ridiculous display of animal abuse, and for the perversion of riding that once was the dressage. May be the dressage today should be in the “Special Olympics” for the mentally challenged.

Related Article:
What is Dressage?

Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a Lee Stanek