Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Not as Easy as It Looks

Hey SunnySD, neat blog post riding the Western Pleasure lesson horse. I'm linking it up here, so the folks who don't frequent your blog can see. It reminded me of a short story from championships that's worth retelling.

We were outside after the awards ceremony. A lady was sitting on her horse near me and Harley, a higher-level rider/horse pair than us for sure. Another gentleman was riding a gorgeous paint horse in an arena just beside where we were, warming up for an Open Show in another arena at the showgrounds. The paint was toodling around at a western pleasure lope, as the rider was gently guiding her off his leg and the bit in small circles. The horse would give to the bit and leg, collect up, and he'd release the horse down the rail. It looked relaxed, slow, and fun to ride. The horse's eyes were alert, ears looked happy, and I didn't see the slightest sign of tail-swishing in frustration.

The lady barked to me, "I hate how they ride those horses! They torture them to make them go that slow. Worst riding style ever. They make those horses do awful things to make them go that slow. Look how he's banging on her with his spurs!" I glanced over, and noticed the rider gently rolling his spurs up the horse's side, and the horse lifted its back quietly in response.

I responded to the lady, almost laughing, "No worse than the rollkur dressage crap. There's torture in every horse competitive field, with bits, with spurs, with stupid riders. Don't act like we're so exempt."

1 comment:

SunnySD said...

Hi Jennifer - Thanks for the mention! Good story, too - I didn't mention in my post, but when Eric was explaining how the rein/contact thing works in WP, I asked about weighted reins (one of the few things I recalled from some long ago reading). He shook his head and said that weighted reins were a training fad from a couple decades ago, back when WP trainers were starting to look at dressage frame and want to emulate the collected look. Inevitably, some trainers took short cuts for the proper "look" - and ended up with a headset, but without actual collection. That's a relatively mild example of what I've heard goes on in some barns (regardless of discipline, as you say). One of the reasons I like going to Eric's for lessons is how happy his horses seem to be - they're quiet, calm, and responsive, and they nicker and stick their heads in their halters readily. And he doesn't seem to use any "magic" devices to get results. Just plain old bridle, saddle, know-how and practice - lather, rinse, repeat - lol.