"Now I say that with cruelty and oppression it is everybody's business to interfere when they see it."

~Anna Sewell

Monday, June 1, 2009

Where is the horse industry going?

It scares me, how low the standards have become for just about everything in regards to horses. Especially riding. I'm tired of seeing twelve year olds who have been riding for six months start jumping 2 foot verticals (and being allowed and even encouraged to do so by their instructors). It never ends. Riders with no seat, flopping legs, and never do so much as a low crest release while going over fences and think there's nothing wrong with that. Riders with little or no lesson time with a good instructor- particularly the haughty ones with huge egos. In today's world, as long as you get over the jump or around the barrel or even just stay on, it's considered "great riding".

I've talked to many people like this. And one thing I've learned is that you can't tell them anything. They're so set in their ways that they don't want to hear what others have to say, and they hate criticism, even from more experienced horse people. Cynthia is a perfect example (see other blog). Lorena has tried to give her advice, and she just blows her off every single time. It's like talking to a brick wall.

I talked to one girl recently who never released when she jumped. Her basic response was, "If I was doing something wrong, don't you think my horse just wouldn't jump?"

To me, she was basically saying, "Why should I try to jump correctly when my horse jumps just fine already?" All I have to say is she's damn lucky she has such a well schooled horse, otherwise he wouldn't put up with her. Honey, your horse is still jumping in spite of you because he's too well trained and patient to flat out refuse.

The philosophy seems to be this: Why learn to ride when you can just buy a dead broke lesson horse that will jump anything and go anywhere no matter what the rider is like? Why put more effort into it than you need to to get by?

What kind of mentality is that?

It's disgusting how low the standards of riding have become. The sad truth is, you can buy your way to the top in this sport. You don't necessarily have to be an exceptionally talented rider.

Another thing is the trainers and instructors that are happy to take your money and tell you to sit up and kick, and that you look great. This is what creates more mediocre riders. The more poor instructors I meet, the more I love my trainer. She's more in-depth than any other instructor I've had, and she accepts nothing less than 100% from me and my horse in every single lesson. If she sees that I'm doing something wrong, she's brutally honest about it. She's not afraid to tell me that I'm not a strong enough rider yet and that I need a lot of improvement. Every instructor should be like that, but unfortunately, most of them are not.

If you go on youtube, you can find endless videos of riders that are doing way more advanced things than what they're ready for, and they think they're great riders because of that. But the reality is, it's not what you're doing, it's how well you do it. I don't care if you can jump a 4 foot oxer if you can't do it correctly.

The philosophy should be: Why settle for "decent" when you can be an excellent rider?

It really worries me when I see so many people in the wrong mindset.


  1. I love this post. I just had my 4th lesson. Never had a private lesson either. So this is my 4th hour in a group lesson setting. And my instructore wants to start me jumping. I did. But next week I'm going to continue on strengthening my seat and whatnot before moving on. I want to be an excellent rider. And I am the one paying, so why should I have to hurry along?
    Great post!

  2. Exactly.
    My trainer had me doing flat work for 3 years before she let me anywhere near jumps. My first jump was about 6 inches. And there's still so much more to learn on the flat.
    I think it's very wise to take it slowly. Don't let your instructor rush you to do things you're not ready for. It'll pay off. ;)