As you know, I ride huntseat and soon to be hunter/jumper. And I'm really starting to question whether or not I want to be involved in this discipline, simply because of the majority of the people involved in it. Especially in the schooling shows. It's all just bratty little whiners who have mommy and daddy to buy them $50,000 ponies when they can't even ride.
I was at a hunter show a few years back and my mom got talking to a horse show dad. He was telling her how his daughter just upgraded from her pony and her new horse was imported from Belgium. O_o Cha-ching. $$$
This photograph was taken at a very prestigious show barn in my area, and I am appalled. Someone has a major ducking problem.
Notice the rider laying across the horse's neck and her ass sticking out in the air. And she's looking down as if to say, "What a lovely fence. Looks like cedar, doesn't it, Breezie?"
Now, a lot of the photos are actually very impressive. But the ones that aren't are just as glorified as the good ones. The picture above is what people today consider "great riding". Even in equitation classes.
Click for larger view. It's enough to make your eyeballs bleed. The caption for this one is, "OMG this new mane conditioner smells sooo perdy!"
Y'know, I'd be willing to bet money that 90% of these riders have ridden nothing but schoolmasters their entire lives. If you put them up on a less-than-perfectly-schooled horse, they would not know what to do. That's why they get away with their scary equitation. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not that great of a rider, and I would scarcely even qualify as a "decent" or "pretty" rider for that matter. But you will never see me flopping through courses or doing anything else that's above my level and I would certainly never go to shows looking like that. And I don't have a good ole' schooling horse to take lessons on. I'm stuck with my knuckleheaded (but lovable) lunatic who thinks trot poles bite. I'm sure most of you can relate at least a little bit.
This is a direct shout out to all the hunters in the world:
STOP LOOKING DOWN AT THE FENCE YOU'RE GOING OVER. STOPIT STOPIT STOPIT. KTHANXBAI.
And on a side note, if you can pull off an automatic release, good for you. But you do not have to reach for the horse's elbows. You will look like a moron (i.e., the ass sticking out again). Mkay? So don't exaggerate it.
I know not all hunters ride like this, but enough of them do to make the rest of us look bad.
This one's the same horse and rider. So you know the last one wasn't just a bad moment. Gorgeous horse, but don't you just wanna crack the rider over the head with a two-by-four? I'm going to have an aneurysm one of these days from looking at all these riders.
What is with the ducking and looking down. Seriously. How are you going to plan the next fence? For those of you who ride English (and probably western, too), I bet your instructors are constantly shouting, "EYES UP! Where's the next jump?!" Eyes are extremely important. And I'm sure many of your instructors would be dragging you off the horse by your shirt collars if they caught you staring down at every fence you jumped. The thing is, it's really not that hard to fix. It's a bad habit, not something more complex like having something wrong with your seat. You just keep reminding yourself to keep your eyes up, and eventually it'll be second nature. But you have to keep your eyes up or your seat won't do any good because the horse won't know where to go. It's like a domino effect.
I also think people are confused about what makes someone a good rider. The truth is (and I've said it before), it's not what you do, it's how well you do it. A person that can clear a 12' cross rail with perfect form is a better rider than someone who can launch over a 5" oxer with chicken wings and a floppy seat.
Hear that, hunters? No matter what you jump, you are only impressive if you do it right. If you don't, you look like a total dickweed. That means you need to be solid in one level before moving on to more advanced things.
That goes out to parents and instructors, too. Do not put a kid on a horse that he or she can't control, and do NOT make that kid do things that are way above their skill level. Take it slow. Make sure you do it right. OK? OK.