There are many different pathways to be explored in the world of horse riding; but the big three I will be exploring in this post are: Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing. Each one requires different skill sets and mentalities from both you and your horse. Some people just know which one they’d like to persue, but for others its not so clear cut. Aside from your ability and confidence level, personality plays a large part in indicating how suited you are to a specific discipline. I will describe my view of each of the big three, and you can decide for yourself which world you feel you’d fit into best. It might help you to narrow it down a little.
Though it’s good to be a good standard for all disciplines, fine tuning your goals is useful for your progress as it means that you can focus your time, effort and planning into what you really want to be achieving this year.
Let’s start by entering at A and proceeding down the centre line. Dressage is big on accuracy, communication and discipline. Potentially the most difficult of the three to master, learning the art of dressage requires a lot of patience and even more practise. Dressage is often seen as less exciting and courageous as jumping, and while that may be so, the whole outset of it is a completely different thing. Just becuase it’s not as adrenaline pumping as the other two, doesn’t mean to say it’s no less impressive or rewarding. Feeling your horse lift and work through his back properly after months of long and low, or excecuting the perfect fifteen metre circle is just as much of a hair-raising feeling.
Is this for you? Well, of course! Dressage is for anyone, on any horse. Doesn’t matter if you’re doing Intro A or Prix St-Georges. Dressage is key in truly becoming a good horseman, and without it, your jumping would never be as good as it could be anyway. If you’re a happy hacker, why not try and work towards a couple of tests in the school? If you don’t have transport, there are a plethora of online dressage competitions. I use Dressage Anywhere – here I’ll even leave you a link: https://www.dressageanywhere.com/.
Focusing on dressage can be so rewarding, and does no end of good for your horse. Dressage is perfect for the perfectionist and for the determined alike.
The world of show jumping, I won’t lie, it’s a glamorous one. Show jumping is for the confident, the elegant, the showman. Speed is vital, balance is crutial and judgement is the make or break. It’s glitzy, so dressing the part will ensure you fit in. The great thing about show jumping is the result is black and white, there’s no subjectivity like there often is in dressage. You either cleared it, or you didn’t. Simple.
If you can take the time to give your horse experience over a variety of fillers and coloured poles, spend the time getting his strides adjustable and perfecting your jumping position then you have every chance of succeeding. Just do it, is my advice with show jumping. The more clinics and events you attend, the more experience you’ll have under your belt and that’s what counts. And progressing is simple – I mean, 70cm- 1m is only a ruler’s lenth appart, right?
Eventing – my favourite. Everything comined, just with cross country inbetween. What’s not to love? If you really love it all, then eventing is definitely the thing for you. It’s not for the faint hearted or the weak minded. The jack of all trades of horse riding, you can tell the difference between event riders and dedicated dressage riders or showjumped when pitted against each other for sure. It all boils down to the cross country, you’ve got to be brave and so does your steed. It’s safe to say that eventing doesn’t have the same stigma for arriving perfectly turned out like the other two, it’s all about giving it a go. A little more rough and ready, if you want to prove you and your horse can do it all then this is the one. After all it’s ‘the ultimate equestrian challenge’ as British Eventing say.
Of course, you have to be a good level at all three disciplines to excel at eventing, which means juggling your training time and money between all three. This requires careful and strategic planning so that you can balance out your strengths and weaknesses. Some weeks you may want to focus purely on dressage to boost your all important score, and other’s it’s out on the cross country field to ensure you leep up your horse’s boldness and endurance.
Whichever discipline you choose, the thing to remember is that just doing it is an achievement. It’s no good just saying you will, as that counts for nothing. Chosing a specific discipline is a valuable thing to do as it will motivate you to organise your goals and improve accordingly. Anyway, it’s not set in stone. You can decide to try something else whenever you want; But dedication is something that goes a long way in the horse world. Whatever you do, do it well.