Poll Recap: Training Across Riding Disciplines

Of the 305 respondents, 166 (54%) said they've cross-trained their horses by taking lessons outside their primary riding disciplines.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Have you ever cross-trained your horse by taking riding lessons outside your primary riding discipline? We posed this question in last week's online poll. More than 300 people responded, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 305 respondents, 166 (54%) said they've cross-trained their horses by taking lessons outside their primary riding disciplines. Another 64 respondents (21%) said they have not cross-trained their horses, and the remaining 75 respondents (25%) said they do not take riding lessons.

Additionally, more than 50 people commented about their experiences with cross-training:

Many people shared the different disciplines that they have cross-trained their horses in and how it has helped:

  • “I'm currently taking lessons from a dressage trainer for my barrel horse.”
  • “I'm an eventer, so have ridden with eventers, show jumpers, and dressage riders. Great experiences!”
  • “Constantly trying different disciplines; keeps horses from getting bored, and develops useful muscles.”
  • “I crossed over from western pleasure to dressage to learn more disciplines.”
  • “I love dressage, but my horse loves to jump so lessons for both and we team pen a few times a year.”
  • “In riding and showing hunters, I took dressage lessons and it significantly improved the performance.”
  • “I trained for barrel racing with dressage. It was so worth it!”
  • “I've taken western, jumping, and dressage lessons, but was for me more than my horse.”
  • “Yes, I show hunter pleasure and take dressage lessons in the off-season.”
  • “I have a fox hunter that events in off season. I lesson in all three disciplines.”
  • “Crosstraining makes for versatile and adaptable performance.”
  • “OPRC! Dressage fix-a-tests, cow-cutting, jumping, driving, eventing, and fox-chasing clinics.”
  • “Usually ride western, but have trained in driving, dressage, cattle work, and done gaming.”
  • “I started out western, but switched to dressage with no problems.”
  • “Started with a year of traditional dressage lessons to help a physically weakened western horse.”
  • “I took a cutting horse and turned her into a level one western dressage horse who loves jumping.”
  • “I consider myself primarily a hunter rider, but any horse can benefit from basic dressage training.”
  • “The RCMP training for civilians was world opening. My horse went from spooky to seasoned in one weekend.”
  • “It was extremely helpful and refreshing to do something different. It's why I decided to do eventing.”
  • “I use dressage training for my barrel horses. They're happy and calm.”
  • “I ride english. I’ll have western lessons to stretch and use different muscles in my horse.”
  • “I have a harness horse that went from racing to dressage.”
  • “I take dressage lessons on my trail/endurance horse.”
  • “I always cross-train my horses.”
  • “I first started with dressage and then added western instruction. Two instructors at same time for a year.”
  • “Recently took dressage lessons on my Quarter Horse trained in AQHA all events including hunter under saddle. Love it so much it.”
  • “I do cow work once in a while and versatility clinics for fun.”
  • “Dressage and hunter lessons with an endurance horse. Well worth it.”
  • “I ride dressage but took some jumping lessons for fun.”
  • “It was very pleasant. We did a team penning class, and we felt very happy with our horses.”
  • “I trained/took lessons in dressage to help my horse succeed in both hunter under saddle and western.”
  • “I have always utilized cross-training techniques. It helps students and horses advance better and quicker.”

A few people mentioned they have used cross-training, but not through riding lessons:

  • “Lessons are expensive, so I limit them to my chosen discipline: dressage.”
  • “No lessons, but we do incorporate training/skills from other disciplines to keep horses well-rounded.”

Some said they do not take riding lessons:  

  • “I don't take lessons, just trail ride from home. But if I had access to lessons I might.”
  • “I'm an advanced horsewoman, no lessons needed. I work and show in both english and western with my versatile gelding.”
  • “I break, train of my horses I train them for everything, from herding cattle, to roping, and trail riding.”

And others left general comments:

  • “The last time I took riding lessons was 48 years ago.”
  • “Trail riding naturally cross-trains to some degree.”
  • “Changing the routine and doing new things is fun and challenging and develops new skills.”
  • “Cross-training makes life interesting for horse and rider, better bonding!”

You can find more information about different methods of cross-training for horses, the benefits of cross-training outside your riding discipline, tips for conditioning your horse, and more at TheHorse.com! 

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The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.

About the Author

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer, is a lifelong horse owner who competes with her Appaloosas in Western performance events. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Communications and Leadership Development, and master's degree in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education. She currently lives on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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