dressage vs hunter jumper

Last post 03-10-2009 7:38 PM by steinerangel. 13 replies.
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  • 02-18-2009 4:25 PM

    dressage vs hunter jumper

    My daughter has been riding Hunter jumper for about a year. We're looking for a different barn and have found two that she really likes. The problem is that one is a hunter jumper barn with limited turn out and the other is a dressage barn with unlimited turn out. Her horse would rather be outside than in the stall.

    She took a lesson with the dressage instructor today and has been taking lessons with the hunter jumper instructor for a few months. I know she'd like to continue with both instructors but because the disciplines are so different that can't happen. I'm looking for opinions on both. Is one better than the other? She likes to jump, so she's leaning towards Hunter Jumper, but dressage has eventing and she can jump there too. She liked the dressage lesson but if she takes that she'll have to relearn everything. It would be nice hearing from both the hunter jumpers and dressagers! I don't want any wars, just give your opinions.

     

  • 02-18-2009 4:51 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

    Dressage is a great base and you can take that in any direction you choose.  Can she still get H/J lessons at the dressage barn?  Will they allow that?  I would pick unlimited turnout over limited t/o anytime.  A good hunter jumper trainer will always throw some dressage in their training.  I don't see any reason why your daughter shouldn't do both if she can. 

    A good rider rides transition to transition, a great rider rides half-halt to half-halt!

    ~Robert Dover
  • 02-18-2009 5:09 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

    I definetly agree with BoyleHeightsKid. Dressage is great for fundamentals. Also if your horse prefers to beoutside, unlimited turnout would be a better choice.  And even if there are no hunter/jumper trainers at the dressage barn, maybe she could take few lessons with a hunter/jumper trainer occasionally if she enjoys it.


    9 year old 16.3 hh Appendix Gelding.
    He's my everything. <3
  • 02-18-2009 6:10 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

     One is not inherently better than the other.  It depends on the preference and suitability of horse and rider.  Dressage is a great base for ANY discipline of course, but keep in mind that if she is show-oriented, dressage and H/J have a very different seat, style, and focus.  For me personally, it would a no-brainer because the health and well-being of my horse is 100% TOP priority, so I would not accept a barn with less than desirable turnout.



    Solaris -- 16 hh Appendix Quarter Horse = MY DREAM COME TRUE!
    We Are Flying Solo
  • 02-19-2009 9:46 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

     True, you can do eventing. Dressage gives a rider a solid foundation for any type of riding. I ride at a H/J barn and many things the trainer does in our lessons is the same as dressage, just a different position. I disagree that it is totally different, lateral work is lateral work, centered balance is centered balance. You won't be heading for piaffe or tempe changes in HJ, but the basics are the basics. 

    I agree I would go for unlimited turnout as it keeps your horse healthier and happier. Learn dressage as a foundation, maybe you could trailer out for jumping or do eventing later. But you can't lose with a solid foundation that a good dressage instructor can give you.

    MorganRider
  • 02-22-2009 10:41 AM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

     I would absolutely choose unlimited turnout over limited. My horse's general well being is top priority and horses need to be outside as much as possible to avoid boredom and bad habits like weaving,cribbing and worse.

     I agree that the principles of dressage are a must in the hunter/jumper ring. If you need your horse to be on the bit, flexible, able to collect and lengthen on a course as well as in hunter undersaddle classes this is all learned through many hours of flatwork. 

      If she is going to event, she's going to have to learn how to adapt her riding position to the three disciplines that encompass eventing anyway. And so her horse will need to be well trained on the flat before jumping. So I would go with the dressage barn, start with a good foundation and move on from there. Will the other trainer go to the dressage barn when they are ready to jump? Any decent hunter/jumper trainer will use flatwork to improve jumping and agree that the work she would be doing with the dressage trainer was beneficial.

  • 03-03-2009 9:19 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

    Just as a reference - in the previous Olympics (not the most recent ones), the youngest member of the German show-jumping team was required by his father (who was a trainer) to take 3 years of dressage before being allowed to compete in jumping.

    Another note - I have a friend who's daughter has been in a well-known hunter barn locally.  Last year she was told by her trainer that before she could compete decently in the 3' class, they would have to stand her down and retrain her.  She would have to learn to use her seat, half-halts, learn lateral suppling, extension and collection.  What didn't make sense to me was that she hadn't been learning that from the get-go. 

    Of course dressage and unlimited turn-out are by far the better choice, for both her and her horse.
  • 03-05-2009 6:49 AM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

    This is the problem. My daughters hunter/jumper instructor puts a big emphasis on heels down, using a lot of lower leg, jumping in two point, and keeping the body stiff and straight. The dressage instructor told her to dislocated her lower leg (in a sense) don't use the lower leg and let the ankle relax, sit in the jump, and almost round the shoulders. The last one was to make her flow more with the horses motion. All of this makes perfect sense, but it's so different than hunter/jumper. The next day she went to the h/j class and was using some of the dressage positioning, which this instructor didn't want to see. She likes both disciplines but I think it would be really hard taking both classes at the same time. I hope this all makes sense. It's confusing even to me, lol.

     

  • 03-05-2009 8:16 AM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

    steinerangel:

    This is the problem. My daughters hunter/jumper instructor puts a big emphasis on heels down, using a lot of lower leg, jumping in two point, and keeping the body stiff and straight. The dressage instructor told her to dislocated her lower leg (in a sense) don't use the lower leg and let the ankle relax, sit in the jump, and almost round the shoulders. The last one was to make her flow more with the horses motion. All of this makes perfect sense, but it's so different than hunter/jumper. The next day she went to the h/j class and was using some of the dressage positioning, which this instructor didn't want to see. She likes both disciplines but I think it would be really hard taking both classes at the same time. I hope this all makes sense. It's confusing even to me, lol.

     


    Ideally, of course, the two could co-exist. I rode hunter-jumper on and off for nine-years before recently making a switch to dressage-based riding. (I still have plans to jump, and possibly event, but I'm working on a solid dressage base right now.) 

    Unfortunately, I understand your daughter's problem all too well - some h/j trainers, including the ones I had, have an entirely different method of getting results. For example, a lot of my h/j trainers would just say "heels down" and, as a kid, I jammed my heels down in response. It made my riding a little "prettier" at the time, but completely threw off my actual position. My current trainer focuses on correct leg position, and feeling the weight sink into my heels. A lot of the flaws that I developed from h/j (leaning forward, lack of elasticity in my elbows, etc.) aren't necessarily because of the sport itself, but rather (I feel) because I was pushed a lot more quickly to progress, progress, progress. Whereas now, taking dressage lessons, we will spend the entire hour long lesson on one concept if necessary. I have spent entire lessons at the walk, just to nail a certain concept. 

    Sorry that was long-winded... my main point is that I understand that it is going to be difficult for your daughter to take both lessons at once because I know from experience that although ideally the disciplines are not too far apart with their bases, in practice they often are. 

    I agree with the others on the turnout issue, as well. Unlimited turnout is so much better than limited, and will make for a happier horse. 
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  • 03-06-2009 2:29 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

    I started out Hunter/Jumper as a teen - grown now and ride dressage. Both disciplines are NOT mutually exclusive. In fact the young lady that rides one of my horses loves to jump but I ride and teach dressage. She went to a summer college camp for hunter/jumpers and the instructors there told her she was the best rider.

    She rides once per week if she's lucky.

    Dressage teaches the rider how to control their body and the horse body - making it easier, when applied properly, to jump. The young lady mentioned above actually rode one horse the "show jumper" teenager couldn't get to "go" - because she knew how to 'explain" it to the horse. So why not board at dressage barn and trailer to other barn when you want a jumping lesson. Horses usually shouldn't be jumper more than 3 times a week anyway (bad for their legs) so she can "flat" (aka dressage) in between and learn how to better regulate her horses tempo and rythmn.

    Dressage R US
  • 03-06-2009 2:46 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

    Thanks for all of the great feedback. So much to think about. Don't worry, we decided against boarding our horse at the facility with almost no turnout. He would be miserable, which would make us miserable. I feel a horse should be a horse, able to graze and be out with his friends.

  • 03-09-2009 8:08 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

    If you're still confused, then understand that most kids like h-j because of the excitement.  And it's taught badly most places, because they push to get their kids showing and the kids push to do better than their friends and the parents push to get their kids to excel.  And everyone thinks that the answer is bigger jumps or brighter ribbons.  

    I teach all my students dressage before I ever allow them to jump!  The jammed ankle and stiff hip and arms of hunter-jumper (unless taught well) make riding after 30 a real problem.  All the flexibility and balance that one has as a kid are gone, so technique has to take over, and if you didn't learn it as a kid, then you've nothing to fall back on!  Kids, of course, don't think that way, but when you're 60 and still riding, it does matter, lol!  Dressage is the only sure way to make a life-long rider
  • 03-10-2009 6:23 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

    So here's a question that hasn't been posed yet: What kind of horse does your daughter have? Is her horse happy doing H/J? Is the horse happy doing Dressage?

    The horse is a large part of this equation. A specific example of something that may prove frustrating is the canter departure. Hunters are taught to sit with your inside leg at the girth, lift inside rein, cue for canter behind the girth on outside. Dressage riders are taught to half halt using outside rein, guard haunches from swinging out with outside leg back, flex horse slightly with inside rein, and cue for the canter with the inside leg at the girth. I know my H/J horse gets mad every now and then when I cue him in a dressage frame of mind, and I have to back off and recue in the H/J manner. He is learning, but I feel bad retraining him from something that he is so good at.

    It's not just a matter of turnout time. It is a matter of suitability and your daughter's interests. Does your daughter want to continue H/J or Dressage, is the barn your looking at a Dressage barn or an eventing barn?

    I also have the experience of going from one lesson to the next and having one instructor telling me to relax and flow and the next tell me to pose and make it look pretty. That is partially because I'm showing a lot of horses that are for sale, so I am riding hunter-type horses that are not going to make eventers and I have the most hunter riding background and can pull it off. But I'll perfect my two point two strides out and hold the position for a stride after and then go to one of our big jump lessons and my instructors is yelling at me to ride to the base, relax, let the horse move me, don't pose, sit up, ride forward, etc. So I understand the confusion. I personally have found that eventing is more fun, but I like the cool calm quiet of hunters for sure.

    Katie

  • 03-10-2009 7:38 PM In reply to

    Re: dressage vs hunter jumper

    Wow, so much to think about. I know that my daughter really enjoys H/J and I think her horse does too. He hasn't had any training in Dressage so it's hard to tell.

    Both barns are specific to the particular discipline. The H/J barn has an excellent instructor that my daughter loves. That's the barn with almost no turnout. If this barn had sufficient turnout we would move her horse there in a heartbeat.

     


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