I have been to several different types of shows over the past years. When I was showing, there was a standard set and you did your best to follow it in order to earn a better place in your class. Standards set the pace, not only to learn from your mistakes, but also to help you move onto the next higher class in order to learn more and be the best competitor you can be.
I have seen upside down spurs, "blingy" show saddles in ranch classes, stirrups way too short and too long, feet shoved to the heel into stirrups, sunglasses posed on top of hats... the list goes on. As one who observes every person and horse in a class, you learn to pick out those who will place high and those who might not place at all. My heart goes out to those who do not place. Whether by ignorance or arrogance, learn the standard for the class you intend to show in.
In recent years, some old standards have been replaced. WHY? I'll never know. I can say this, I'm appalled at this new standard for some pleasure classes. "Peanut pushers" = horses with their noses on the ground, horses that look like they're in pain, rather than showing a nice jog, or lope. The lope has been replaced by the "trope". There is no good reason for this new standard. It does not show the rider or horses talents at all. Instead what you see are riders constantly jabbing their horse or jerking their heads with the reins. Constantly bobbing the reins, hitting the horses mouth for every single, tiny raise of the head. This is not natural for the horse at all and forcing them into this position causes internal issues with muscles and breathing, not to mention strain on tendons and loins.
Mind you, I'm not judging anyone this is purely my observation based on a standard I had come to learn a long time ago. What is correct, and acceptable and what is not. Why judges allow this to go on is beyond me. Instead of being disqualified, they are being praised with ribbons.
In several other shows, mostly reining, I have seen riders who slap the saddle with their rear ends, rather than sitting down in the saddle or even standing up to prevent the saddle slap. This puts considerable strain on a horses back and causes damage to the nerves that run down the spine. (This is my judgement here) If you can't ride any better than that... don't. Please. For the sake of your horse, just don't. Not only is it not good for the horse, it looks awful. And for Pete's sake, quit flying like a chicken! If you can't control your body any better than that, glue your hand to your leg, or glue your elbows to your sides.
If you have to use "gimmicks" or other "aids" to get your horse to bring their head out of the clouds, or if you have to keep bobbing the reins to get their attention... If you have to jab the devil out of your horse with spurs for whatever reason.. drop your arrogance and take more lessons. Learn from those higher above you that don't use force as a means to train. We don't live in the Olde West cowboy days where you bronc'd out a horse to break it. You want a softer, more responsive horse, then be softer and release pressure at the right time.
Every time a rider is around a horse, they are either teaching or un-teaching. If you want your horse to do its best, then do YOUR best. When your horse refuses something, or in your eyes "acts up", or appears to not be listening to you, don't get after the horse. Figure out what YOU are doing wrong and correct it. Are you even sure your horse knows how to do what you're asking of it? Maybe your horse has crossed a bridge a thousand times, but refuses 1,001. Are you listening to what your horse is telling you? Or are you going to gouge it in the ribs and make it cross the bridge? Did you give the correct cue when opening that gate? Or did you give the incorrect cue and expected your horse to be a mind reader because he's been there done that?
I'm sure there are many things your horse knows how to do. I can guarantee at some point, the rider will give the wrong cue, even by accident and the horse not understand, or "screw up". Very rarely is it the horses fault. Only a person with an open mind, compassion in their heart and the willingness to listen will never blame their horse. You're never too old to learn. We all have bad days, even our horses. I suggest, if you're having a bad day, don't ride, don't show, don't even bother being around your horse. 1 bad day on your part, could very well mean miscommunication and broken bones on one of you. He can't read your mind, but he can read your body language. It would be beneficial on your part to drop your arrogance. Learn from your mistakes and help your horse through the situation instead of punishing him.
Maybe I'm being too critical? Perhaps, though I don't think so. I want to see people succeed and place in the ribbons. It's a great feeling! I just hope they do so with some dignity and respect for their horse who carries them through whatever the rider puts them through.
Thanks for reading. I appreciate you all.
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