Cross training is something that should be done more often... My pleasure horse does the usual pleasure horse events - showmanship, pleasure, horsemanship and we're working on trail. We also do English Pleasure and English Equitation at local shows. When we feel like a break, he also (surprisingly) trail rides, can dabble in games like barrel racing, and even plays polo. He does it all quite well, really - his only problem ever is not being able to relax enough to really perform.
SlowPassinTime had other questions about self-carriage, but that subject is HUGE , will take lots of thought on my part and could go on for days, so I'm ducking it at the moment. But the subject above caught my eye and my A.D.D. brain. So I've been chewing on that one for several days.
I'm thinking about the muscle development we achieve in our horse through training for a specific discipline and how it affects performance elsewhere.
I know that a well-bred pleasure bred horse will hit the ground carrying his head level and stepping deep with a flat kneed swing. His muscles are longer and flatter than other horses.
A cowhorse is compact and agile. She's born with a lightening fast response to outside stimulus. As a weanling she will put her head down and cut back and forth with her siblings, sit in the dirt and slide or roll-back like a champ, just for fun. Her muscles are bunched and strong, developed for explosive forward movement and sudden stops.
My daughter has a cutting bred foundation colt. His parents are cutters and so is every generation behind him for about ever. He naturally travels with his neck extending dead level from his short back. His hind legs step way underneath himself and he'll track anything she puts him on with his nose in the dirt and his eyes straight in the eyes of whatever he's after (Yes, he's totally cool). His lumbar muscles are heavily developed and his semitendinosis is extremely long and developed, reaching well-down into the back of his leg.
All of these horses are developed further by the type of training done on them for the sport they were bred for.
The cowhorse will travel uphill from tail to poll and her back, belly, hindquarters and neck will develop accordingly to make this easier.
The pleasure horse will develop strong abdominal obliques to help him carry his long low frame while maintaining correct drive from the back and lift through the shoulders.
I'm certainly not saying cross training won't work. I am saying that if I develop my cowhorse's muscles to work like a cowhorse, she will be extremely uncomfortable trying to frame up like a pleasure horse. Not to mention she'll look like crap.
If I try to take a seasoned pleasure horse to a cutting I will lose my entry fee.
They are not bred or conditioned to cross over.
So I guess my thoughts are along the lines of, what is fair to expect of our horses? Is SlowPassinTime nervous and high headed because he isn't physically capable of everything being asked of him?
Could the arena anxiety and spooking come from not knowing what's expected? Could he have actual discomfort from being asked to perform in ways he just isn't meant to?
I'm not picking on you, Slow Passin Time. I don't know your horse well enough to really form an opinion, I'm just thinking out loud.
I do know Pleasure is incredibly demanding, both physically and mentally.
So now I'm throwing open the discussion. Let me go get my popcorn.