Finding Dressage Instructors

    Hi, sorry for replying somewhat belatedly, but it is very much time consuming to manage all the websites, which I can do only in my spare time.

    Anyway, the issue of finding, or even recommending, a dressage instructor or trainer is very much ambivalent. There is dressage and then there is dressage, in other words what dressage are you talking about? 
    If you are talking about the genuine dressage you will have not only a difficulty to find an instructor, or even a person that understands it, but also it will be good for nothing if you want to compete. 
    If you are looking for a dressage instructor that will prepare you for the show ring, they are a dime a dozen and you can find them all over, some better at it than others. You must understand that the genuine dressage exists no more, and what exists is some form of riding that retains the name “dressage” while it in reality contradicts the genuine dressage in all major concepts.

    The problem here lies not so much with the riders or instructors, but mainly with the dressage judges, who are the ones responsible for the decadence of that style of riding. In short, in order for you to win you need to do what the judges like. Well, and the judges like all that contradicts the genuine dressage. 
    I will give you just some small examples. Lets take a simple so-called extended trot (long trot). In the genuine dressage attention is paid primarily on the following factors, the transition from and to the short trot (here called collected) during the long trot (extended trot). However, the most important part to be observed and jugged, which is also the most difficult part to execute, is the even balance of collection, mainly during the cruising phase in the longer frame of the long trot. 
    There are three phases to be judged and observed, the acceleration, the cruising and deceleration. The degree of difficulty measured during the execution makes the acceleration the easiest, the cruising most difficult and the deceleration second most difficult. In other words it is not about how long the trot is or how high the front legs go, but it is primarily about retaining even collection during the transitions and mainly during the long frame in the cruising phase. 
    Another very important fact to be observed is the balance of the horse, which can be seen in a simple fact that the hind legs follow the same wave line as the front legs in a harmonious motion. In layman’s terms the front legs travel in the same height as the hind. 
    Now watch the contradiction of the “modern” dressage. They pay attention to how high the front legs go and how snappy they are, completely ignoring the balance in the flow of the legs wave line, which should be identical in the front and hind alike. 
    Further more they pay attention to how long the stride is and often completely ignore the loss of collection during the cruising phase of the long trot. 
    Similar can be observed in the long gallop (extend gallop) where the attention is paid to the length of the stride rather than to the cruising balance of collection. 
    I am not sure of how much you are aware of, but the most difficult part to execute during this going is in retaining the balanced collection during the long frame while cruising. Most horses will fall apart after about four strides, which can be seen in the lack of hind legs action, mainly they are no longer set sufficiently under nor they are lowered enough in the joints, while they significantly travel in much lower wave line than the front. This of course will result in very heavy landing of the front legs and is even more increased, sometime to a critical point, during the deceleration (transition downward) back to the school gallop or the short trot.

    In short, complete greenhorns are judging dressage these days and they can judge it only but what they see. Since they understand nothing and see nothing, they notice only the things that any amateur notices. In addition to the longer stride they notice primarily the front legs snapping forth and up in an exaggerated and out of balance motion, which these fools find pretty, among other things.

    Remember a simple point when looking at riders and their horses. If the front legs are lifted higher than the hind legs, and vice versa, the horse is inevitably out of collection balance and out of harmony of motion, that is simple as that. 
    Now however, to the greenhorns the high stepping is attractive, they find it pretty and reward the rider. Unfortunately this turns many of the trainers to whip training, which is predominantly used in the circus for the same reason, since the non-horse public has no knowledge of riding horses thus finds it also pretty and attractive, especially when it appears with music as if the horse is dancing (absurd!). 
    In the circus it makes sense, but in dressage it is absolutely absurd, because in order for the horse to travel like that, with the exaggerated front leg movement, it must be inevitably out of balance. 
    The teaching technique is also very primitive and simple and goes back to the silly minds of the baroque era highly corrupted society where everything was about fashion (the people believed then that the noble folks should not take a bath). 
    In short and simple, you smack (tap) the horse with a whip across its shin till it strikes after the whip, pet him and proceed to do the same to the opposite leg (similar is done to the hind legs when teaching piaffe off the whip). After a while the horse will strike at the sight of the whip alone (that is why stallions (male horses) where preferred, because they have greater tendency to strike than the female). 
    In time you incorporate this into motion, which is noticeably very jerky-like, but to the greenhorn pretty. So when you sit on the horse you will point the longer whip toward the horse’s nose and it tries to strike after it while going. Then you implement the spur prior using the whip, which the horse promptly associates and here we are, going like some comedians. 
    It is all extremely simple and in the eyes of horseman grotesquely absurd, but in today’s amateur world of dressage it is highly praised, unfortunately.

    This is why I say that there is no dressage in existence, and because of it there are no dressage instructors or riders. The judges and the politics of the sport got rid of it all in the last fifty years. So now, how do you expect to find a dressage instructor or rider that is familiar with and understands the genuine dressage? Since it is non-existent I would recommend that you do not take part in this activity anywhere, because in order for you to win or be successful in the dressage world today you will have to inevitably abuse your horse, because if you perform it in the genuine form you will not place.



Some illustrations:

It does not get any worse than this. Complete loss of collection at the end of the cruising phase in the long trot. Obviously a novice.
Imagine that this horse is so deformed and twisted that it has only one leg on the ground during the trot.
Same thing as on the left in a more "advanced level". The only time one could use the term advanced idiot is in dressage. Again, one leg on the ground during trot? Typical running over the front while dragging the hind behind, but the front looks "pretty", right? To whom? Mind you,  this is the Olympic level! Here even more exaggerated front while the hind is completely dead (nailed to the ground). What do the judges see? The front leg sticking out like a toothpick. This should be in some dressage cartoon for its absurdity.

     If you've been on a horse for just one month, and had no teacher, you are riding far better than any of the people depicted here, because the horse will not do any of this on his own unless he is pressured or forced into it, which is extremely obvious in all pictures. 
    No harmony, no elegance, no freedom of movement, just simple brutality of people that have no clue of what they are doing.

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