Choice of Riding ‘Style’

Probably the first or maybe second question out of anyone’s mouth after they find out that you are a fellow horse love is-what kind of riding do you do? Followed closely with-what kind of horse do you have? They’re really interchangeable and can be one then the other. But you will get them. Some people have yardsticks-if you aren’t into ________ and ride ________, well, you just don’t register with them as being significant in their world. I’m not going to put that down-I think it’s a bit short-sighted on their part, but it is their choice. No skin off my nose certainly.

As one man who came into my spouse’s office responded to that question: “Quarter horses! Is there any other kind? What have you got?” To which my spouse replied, “Well, I guess if that’s the case, I don’t have any!” (We have Arabian crosses and a TWH.).

Then you get into the (sorry, but it is true) snobbery of what kind of saddle your butt is parked on. Honestly,  I’ve ridden just about every type of saddle made with the exception of a jockey’s half saddle, a side saddle, and a vaquero/knight’s saddle. It isn’t the saddle that makes the equestrian. Any body can be taught how to be a passenger on a horse-that’s called being a rider. I’ve seen dogs, cats, goats, and monkeys do it. It takes dedication, hard work, willingness to learn, and the ability to admit your mistakes to be an equestrian. I see darn few who fill that bill. I see a lot who take the short cuts of tight nose bands, tie downs, harsh bits, heavy hands, and spurs. They are by no means amateurs-you can see them at the Olympics. If you see a horse with a gaping mouth even with a tight flash nose band or figure 8-something is wrong. If you see a gag bit-something is wrong. If you see a horse being yanked on, something is wrong. Not with the horse-wrong with the human.

I didn’t used to see this-but since I have seen horse do cutting, reining, roping, show jumping, trail classes, dressage, and liberty work either bitless or bridleless, it dawned on me-what have I been doing to my horses? All that must not be necessary if the necessary time is spent. All that stuff is merely shortcuts for humans and we rationalize our actions that cause pain to our horses. How dare we?