Sorry, but I have to get this off of my chest. It's a topic that could go on for pages, but I'll keep it short. First let me say that I love classical dressage and I have a great respect for both the professionals and amateurs who pursue this discipline / art. My rant certainly isn't directed at everyone using the term and not at any of my fellow bloggers here.
Lately I find the term 'classical dressage' is being usurped more and more by people who, in my opinion, are badly off track. They try to make it about baroque horses, the riding and gaits put forward as good are awful, and they heap vitriol on anyone outside their 'group' who they hope to feel superior to. This makes me mad.
Honest to God, from what I've observed at times, even riding your horse on the bit must be abusive. Apparently the only way to avoid riding behind the vertical is a half loose rein held like a china tea cup - never mind that it's whacking the horse in the mouth with every stride. And the fact that the beautiful, sensitive horse has hollowed his back and stuck his head up in the air isn't related to this either. No that's caused by some vague, grey, as yet undiagnosed training issue that can probably be fixed with a different bit, or no bit, or more riding from the seat and core with even less rein (Guess what? You need both). God.
This can go on for years. The horse develops incorrect muscles, with all the accompanying problems, but of course this isn't being negligent or careless about the horse's welfare. They drop training levels instead of gaining them, but hey, those levels are part of the whole crazy, modern dressage world anyway, right?
Look I know there is lots of room for improvement in competitive dressage, but there have been huge positive shifts too. Also I love classical dressage (thus the blog name, which I may now change) which makes me angry that the term is being taken over by flakes.
This new classical community (an oxymoron?) has lots to say, criticizing 'modern dressage'. They are all over the Web. They can and will do damage to dressage. I wish they would shut up, stop trying to out do one another in pointing out what's wrong with every other discipline and rider in the world, and focus on getting their own horses going correctly.


Karen said…
I cannot agree with you more. I have found that the type of people you are talking about have very little grasp on the realities of training horses. And they tend to shame those who move up the levels (they must be doing it wrong!) ... and yet they stay stuck at the same level for years and years and years. I dunno. I could go on and on about this topic, too. haha
I agree with you. Over the years I've seen more than my share of people who haven't a clue as to what they're doing. And their "trainers" don't either. Unfortunately, everyone has an opinion even if they are misinformed.

AmityBee said…
I do get you vent, but as always, there is good and bad in every discipline.

But really, uniformed and misguided "classical" dressage riders do not give "competitive" dressage a bad name. Uninformed and misguided "cometitive" dressage riders are quite able to do that all by themself.

Your vent only shows that uninformed misguided "classical" dressage riders give their sport a bad name. No surprise there either. ;-)

Lori Skoog said…
I have seen many horses abused in "classical" dressage (not to mention other disciplines). Pretty sad. Some riders do not want to take the time to develop good communication with their horses and just muscle them with shortcuts. When they break down they are discarded. It's pretty amazing how different teaching styles can be and the impact they have.
Anne T said…
yes, the term classical is misused by people who think it means riding around without contact and without understanding the concept of progressive training and gymnasticizing (is that a word) the horse. And BTW Arthur Kottas is the real deal.
Wendy said…
I was part of a dressage group on facebook and had to leave after I posted a video of my trainer riding my horse. My horse is an overly sensitive, easily excitable, drama king. Speed is not his friend as he falls apart quickly mentally from it. So he's going around at a very slow trot doing lots of leg yields and haunches out to get him to relax. Well you would have thought from the comments that we were torturing him! People who have no idea about my horse! Drove me nuts! So I just left the group because I was tired of the "I'm always correct" mentality. It really damaged me from wanting to post anything about my horse again! BTW - I work with an excellent trainer too! Jim Koford! Ironically, what Jim was doing was exactly what was written in a post on "Horse Listening"http://horselistening.com/2013/01/13/how-to-ride-your-excited-horse-in-5-easy-steps/
Achieve1dream said…
People think classical dressage should be done with no contact?? I missed that somewhere... lol. You can't have one without the other. You need to use your seat and legs to create the energy and then you need the contact to contain and recycle it... I may have said that wrong, but anyway you already know so it doesn't matter. That's crazy. I had no idea there were "classical dressage" fanatics out there doing all of that. Rant on girl! Rant on! :D
Cut-N-Jump said…

Not only is it little to no contact or the complete opposite, but their legs are anything but still. It's as if they are running a marathon in the saddle. Classical Dressage (at least to me) was when it looked as if the rider didn't hardly move and the horse did it all as if they were dancing. The cues were so light and subtle that as a spectator or bystander, you hardly noticed them.

I agree with AmityBee- there is good and bad in Every sport or discipline. The bad ones make the rest of us cringe while they give us a bad reputation.
It seemed like last year everyone around me jumped on the "Classical" cart.

They parroted quotes without ever having experienced the result of correct training. The majority of their information came from books, or from trainers who suddenly, out of the blue, became expert classical dressage trainers over night.

They came across as 'know-it-all', 'holier than thou', stuck up snobs.

And it didn't matter if a clinician had little to no qualifications to teach classical, as long as the clinician claimed to be "Classical" then he was god-like in their opinion. Nothing he said could be wrong, nor could anyone dare to not be awed by the guy.

It reminds me of the people that have to buy the designer labels, the McMansions, the high end sports cars even when they don't have the money or need for them. It's all about status and ego.

These people are obviously a bad sub-set of Classical dressage, but they soured me on the experience.

Riding 'classical dressage' is now a fad.... and with fads you often times get posers and wannabe's that make the whole endeavor look like a farce.
Carol said…
Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences and perspectives. I'm interested to note that other people have noticed this too.