I am very disappointed to hear that a number of people have inaccurately interpreted the messages in my last blog to the extent that I am being portrayed as anti-dressage.
I LOVE DRESSAGE
Let me make it 100% clear that I love good dressage at any level, and I am in love with seeing a rider and horse working in harmony and with real quality...to me each moment is then something of great beauty and still gives me enormous pleasure on a daily basis. Good dressage training is vital for event horses and is the core of the jumping training. Everything I have ever written endorses this opinion and I still spend far too many hours of my life selling the crucial importance of dressage. In addition unlike many event trainers I also find no difficulty with Prix St George training, as long as it is good quality unforced work and it is part of an integrated programme. I said exactly this in my article:
"The ‘higher level’ of dressage referred to by some as a potential danger is Prix St Georges, the introductory level for international dressage. Lucinda Green quotes Jack Le Goff as saying that doing dressage at this level is detrimental to a cross country horse….and certainly anything said by Jack le Goff should be listened to because he was an outstanding coach. However in itself I cannot see that this level of dressage is harmful IF the training is done with good steady progression and real partnership, and IF it is part of an overall strategy and programme that allows sufficient time for all aspects of an integrated training programme."
IT'S NOT EITHER/OR, IT'S INTEGRATED TRAINING
It is also totally inaccurate to suggest that I say it is 'an either/or' situation. I see good Event training as being 'integrated'....which is the point I mention in the quote above and the point I mention several other times in the article, with the connected suggestion that what is required is coaches who understand the demands of all three phases or coaches who teach all three phases. I see no difficulty in bringing together good dressage, jump and cross country training. Indeed I believe it produces a better, more efficient and humane training programme....a point also made by Reiner Klimke.
The article was not primarily about fifth leg training but once again to make it clear......yes it is not a new concept and yes many suggest a conflict here with dressage but I don't see it that way. Anyone who has read my articles on this subject will bear me out. Equally people forget fifth leg training and I will keep mentioning it until it is included in all major show jumping and cross country syllabi/curriculums....which at the moment it is not. (NB It is a vital part of winning against the clock show jumping.)
As far as I am concerned I make 'fifth leg' training part of every normal session for the horse even in dressage, in as far as self carriage is fifth leg training and working on varied terrain is very helpful, (in the same way that I make 'Feel' part of every session for the rider). So the dressage helps the jumping which in turn helps the dressage. I say this time and time again and my Barnmice blog 'Four Great Reasons to Jump Your Dressage Horse' was read by over 12,000 people last year and was discussed at length on all the major equestrian forums including the Horse and Hound and The Chronicle of the Horse. I am going to post this blog again later today. Once again it is all about an integrated programme and having the flexibility to choose from the fullest range of exercises to benefit each rider and horse combination.
This is my message. So I hope that further inaccuracies do not hinder communication and the important points in our joint efforts to inch towards a safer sport. William