More Talk About Eventing Dressage
|Hold on to your face, my friend. We're wading back into the deep end.|
Just a notice, though. I grew up eventing, but have not actively competed in the sport in many years. In the meantime, my experience has been restricted to spectating and working many recognized and schooling events in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. My thoughts are based on my observations and experiences, but I think they are interesting topics of conversation.
I'd also like to address an issue with my previous post. I do not think eventing dressage needs to necessarily become "harder" or weighted more. Instead I was merely suggesting it better reflect the training the level is supposed to be asking of the horse and rider. Eventing dressage never needs to be as collected, supple or obedient as pure dressage. That is counter to the needs of the sport. I am not suggesting that eventing horses all need to be doing upper level dressage, or even demonstrating collection. There is a time and place for those things, and that's fine.
|Pictured: Dressage side eye champion.|
1. The type of horse typically successful in eventing tends to do better with a more complicated flatwork pattern. (Please note, more complicated does not mean more difficult.) Hotter or more intelligent horses typically enjoy being 'kept busy' when in the ring. Frequent changes of direction, changes of bend, or transitions help keep their attention and create a more supple and forward thinking horse.
With this in mind, are dressage tests written more simply to be more difficult for your average eventing horse? Or should they include more changes of direction or transitions? Keep in mind that the Intro tests have transitions that come up much quicker than transitions within Novice A/B. It's not as if adding in a few more transitions would increase the supposed difficulty of a test. Some additions of transitions or changes of direction might encourage more active forward and accepting horses, and more engagement from riders overall. What do you think?
2. Eventing dressage tests lack a purpose, unlike all USEF dressage tests. A purpose statement in a pure dressage test indicates the training being emphasized in the test. It gives guidelines for how much the horse should be expected to accept the bit, or show bend or collection. Basically, the purpose of a dressage test gives the baseline for what is being evaluated in the test movements.
As these purpose statements are lacking from the eventing tests, I find the expectations for judges and riders to be much more unclear. I wonder if this leads to inconsistency in scoring? Or to a lack to a lack of focus in rider and horse development when it comes to this phase? It definitely makes things difficult to evaluate how the tests relate to each level.
|Warm up ring at Surefire Farm during Prelim/Intermediate dressage warm up. Nearly every horse in this shot is behind the vertical in some capacity.|
|Those eventers aren't alone. I also struggle with a backwards riding.|
I wonder if the community took a look at how dressage is judged in eventing, and why backwards riding isn't penalized higher if that would help the jumping phases. Some people mentioned in my previous post that a higher emphasis on dressage resulted in the sport becoming less safe. Is this because the dressage being rewarded was backwards and discouraged a more forward horse who accepted the bit? Or was it for other reasons?
With this in mind, should the tests be written in a way to encourage this sort of riding? Should the sport educate its average rider on what a good test looks like, rather than emphasizing extravagant movers? Is the overall education in the sport when it comes to what correct and forward flatwork looks like as well as how it applies to jumping lacking? What does this education look like in your area?
|Bast says he could use more education. Me too, haha.|