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If you have a photo of crappy show riding, know of a jerkwad trainer or judge, or someone in the show world that is an abusive piece of shit then send the info to me. This blog is not anti-showing, it's anti-abuse. So there is no truth to the claims from the TWH, ASB, western pleasure and dressage zombies that I'm trying to shut showing down. Instead I'm trying to make showing more honest and to get abusive practices out of the showring! Email me at shameinthehorseshowring@gmail.com

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Whatever happened to equitation?

I know I keep harping on equitation, but I’m really disturbed that is seems to be missing from the show ring. When did people stop knowing how to ride? I’m not talking about children, or non-pros. I’m talking about money making trainers that ride like absolute shit. Look at any western pleasure trainer and you’ll see what I mean. For the record, I think the women riders look better than any of the male trainers. The leaning back crap is just so stupid. Do they not realize that their profile looks like they are trying to snort raindrops? It makes their horse’s back look concave and it really makes the line of the horse look awkward. To make it worse they poke their feet forward like they are stomping on the brakes of a 1966 International Truck.

Come on people, sit up straight and use your leg correctly. I realize that teaching a horse to spur stop relieves you of having to teach your horse how to work in a bridle, and leaning back makes it impossible for him to move out well, since his kidneys are screaming with every step. I’m so sick of “Drequitation”. Why do the judges reward this crap, unless it’s because they ride like that too?
What is it going to take to get actual balanced riding, both English and western, back in the stock horse show ring?


babieca said...

While I am not a western pleasure rider, and do not see what you mention, I DO agree that equitation has gone downhill.
I teach and train dressage, and I have seen riders with appalling equitation. One local instructor works more on moving the riders up the levels than working on equitation. The leaning-back-to-ride-sitting-trot is a phenom common in dressage as well.
One of my new students came from riding with an instructor who was essentially trying to get her to ride sitting trot on the small of her back. (I likened it to bronc riding; practically laying down on the horses back)
It IS ugly. And not balance, and not kind to the horse. I may not move folks up the levels fast, but I focus on good equitation.

exes blue eyed devil said...

We call it the "old fart's hunch" it is terrible, they look like you could just push them right off....

may said...

It's just as bad, if not worse in the big hunter/jumper barns. I boarded my horses at a big name barn for less than a year (they had pretty arenas, but it wasn't worth the drama) and I was appalled at the way they'd move the little kids up the ranks so quickly.

Lesson 1 - walk
Lesson 2 - walk/trot
Lesson 3 - walk/trot, ground poles
Lesson 10 - walk/trot/canter, jump 2'
Lesson 20 - walk/trot/canter, jump 3'

They didn't offer flat lessons, EVER, every lesson was focused on the jumping, and as a result none of these girls could ride worth anything! If it weren't for their saintly school horses, none of them would be able to make it over the 4' courses they were doing at the end of their first year. I don't think any of them could perform a low level dressage test with a passable score if their lives depended on it, instructors included.

babieca said...

May, you bring up a good point. I think in this day and age (more so than when I was a kid riding, I think) both parents and kids want instant gratification, and instant rewards. Look at all the strip mall martial arts programs; they are belting those kids left and right. And ignorant parents who know nothing about riding will just ask 'why ISN'T my kid jumping 4' fences after a month?'
Thank god those horses are saints. Too bad the kids who ride there and perhaps move on to other non-saintly horses will learn a harsh (and perhaps painful and damaging) lesson.

carriegl said...

I am no pro, by any means! I will train my own horses from weanling to basic riding.......they go on to higher education from here.

But as the owner of a couple of good, educated horses, I feel it is my responsibility to seek out a good, solid equitation education.

It does not come "instantly" for the rider or the horse. Horsemanship is about dedication and passion. We have all seen the "weekend rider" syndrome and the show person who has their horse trained, but not themselves.

I don't know where this "posture" came from, frankly I don't care..I will ride my horse properly, even if the judges look past us.

Carrie Giannandrea
Dances with Horses
Formula One Farms

cattypex said...

Heh.... when I was in college, I took some lessons at a gorgeous $$$$ h/j, CT & dressage barn.

While in a group lesson once, the horse I was riding had what I thought was a minor bobble.... got distracted, did a little crowhop, something like that. So I corrected him and life went on, but the fancypants girls with the $$$$$$ horses were gasping like I'd just sat a bull for 8 seconds.

I mean, this was BASIC STUFF.

Shadow Rider said...

What is especially bad, is the equitation we see in show rings today has no connection with true horsemanship. Those 'riders' are just unbalanced passengers on a patient, well schooled (or in most cases that I saw, lunged to death)mount. I used to have a small lesson program at a barn I ran. All my school horses I trained myself. None of them did more than 4-5 lessons a week. My kids had to catch the horse in the pasture, bring it in, groom them, tack then up, then we did lessons. We would start in the ring, but then would go out in the fields. When they were advanced enough, we would ride down the frontage road of the hwy, across the over pass, and into a park where we would swim the horses in the bay. All my horses were well trained, but they were fat, sassy, and not worked very hard. So my students learned how to work with a horse who wasn't deadened by 8 hours a day, 7 days a week of ringwork. It was really brought home to me when we decided to take in a rated show. I had been taking them to local fun stuff, and they all did great. I had a pony club instructor come in and show them what was expected for these type judges. (Even she admitted it was not good horsemanship, but it would pin)They did ok at the show, some ribbons, of course nothing high. But my kids warmed their own horses up, rode around the grounds, snuck off and jumped some X-country jumps that were off limits, and generally had a blast being kids with horses. The regular Rated show kids? They pinned higher of course, but their trainers lunged their horses for hours before they got on, they schooled in the warm up then were led to the ring. The horses barrels around the jumps with the kids hanging on with a death grip. Then off the kid comes as soon as the horse is out of the ring. I heard some parents sneering at my kids, but I mostly saw a lot of envious looks from the kids at how much fun we were having.
How can it really be Equitation if they can't ride thier horse?

cattypex said...


nononononononononoNO, Puppy Paw Girl Humping Her Saddle!!!!