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I don’t know if it is because everyone is watching the Olympics, or if I am just noticing it all of a sudden. But I just constantly seem to be seeing people bashing the riders at the Olympics, or certain pieces of tack etc. and it’s doing my head in!
Don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion and not like a certain style/method/aid BUT the majority of the posts I see have such badly educated arguments it really worries me! The majority of the people complaining about whatever don’t seem to understand what that is for/how it should fit and use that lack of knowledge to form their opinion.
So instead of repeating myself arguing with these people, who generally don’t want to know all the facts, I am going to write examples of what has been said and why they are wrong (and I will try really hard not to get too angry!)
“It really upsets me that all the dressage riders are wearing double bridles. Can they not stop their horse?” The first thing I have to say here is that a double bridle is not there to stop the horse. At this level dressage, the purpose of a double bridle is to allow the rider to have a wide range of clear aids for the horse to understand. And actually, when you watch a lot of the riders, the second (stronger) rein is often very loose in comparison. This is because a double bridle is COMPULSORY once you are riding at a certain level. Therefore many of the horses don’t actually need it and won’t be ridden in it at home. But they have to wear it for competition. Now this is a rule I think should change. I don’t think these horses should have to compete in a double bridle, it should be optional, like wearing a top hat or not. However, double bridles being compulsory does not make the sport full of fire breathing dragons who are preying on poor innocent horses. If you don’t think these riders care about their horses, just follow Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin on social media. If that doesn’t change your mind, you’re an idiot.
“All the dressage riders are wearing spurs! They should be able to make their horse go faster without them.” Again, spurs aren’t there to make the horse go faster. They are there to give clear aids or get the horse to listen to the leg. I would much rather see someone wearing spurs for dressage than them pony club kicking it round in the ribs… Plus I know first-hand that using too much leg because they aren’t listening/responding can rub the horse. Spurs or a whip back up your leg aids so you don’t need to use as much leg. Also, as with the double bridle, once you get to a certain level, spurs are compulsory. Again, I think this needs to change as not all horses need them, but a good rider wearing them doesn’t do any harm. The riders aren’t choosing to use spurs just to abuse their horse. I’m a bit worried that you think they are…
“Whips and Spurs should be banned in show jumping. If you can’t do it without them you should go back to ponies!” Whoever wrote this obviously has a very genuine horse who never looks at anything (and probably doesn’t jump very big or competitively!) Whips are a fantastic aid while jumping. A quick tap on the shoulder can remind the horse there’s a big jump coming up if they get distracted by something, like the hundreds of people watching in the crowd! I NEVER jump without a whip as sometimes your legs/hands/seat aren’t enough when you need to do something quickly. The spurs I understand a bit more because if you lose balance you can jab you horse by accident. Despite thinking me and Scottie would benefit from jumping in spurs, we have some interesting jumps and I don’t feel my leg position is secure enough in these situations. However, at this level, these riders are fantastically balanced. Many of them could jump this height without their saddles with the most perfect leg position ever! Yes they sometimes get things wrong. But how many every day riders can say they have never landed heavily, or used the reins to regain their balance or asked their horse to do something the horse couldn’t do. I will be shocked if anyone can say they have never made a mistake with a horse.
“These riders are horrible, jabbing the horse in the mouth cross country. They should all be disqualified and never be allowed to touch a horse again.” Please bear in mind that horses need to have their heads up to see the jump properly and that most of these Big Solid jumps are being jumped from a gallop. The rider needs to make sure the horse has the best chance at actually making the jump and not falling over it at that speed. And quite frankly, once the horse and riders adrenaline kicks in, horses don’t really want to slow down, they are having too much fun, so many of them do need a strong reminder. Which can result a jab in the mouth. But again, these riders aren’t being cruel. They would have asked several times before the jab and not had the response they needed. It’s like when you learn to ride, you squeeze with your leg, if you don’t get a response you squeeze harder, then kick, then tap. It’s the same method applied. You just can’t see the first few stages clearly.
“Using a flash is the same as duct taping a horse’s mouth shut.” This still gets me. No. It’s just wrong. So wrong. I hope this person never fits a flash to a horse ever! A flash isn’t, or at least it shouldn’t be, used to keep the horse’s mouth shut! It’s there to stop the horse avoiding a contact or getting his tongue over the bit.
“People who use training aids are lazy and don’t care about the horse, they just want results.” Really? People actually putting the work in to make sure their horse builds the correct muscle to be able to support themselves and a rider is lazy? Yes lots of people use them wrongly and used correctly they can speed up the training process, but is that a bad thing? Without my pessoa I’m not sure Scottie would be as consistently round and on a contact in walk and trot, and we definitely wouldn’t be thinking about rounding in canter. Yes this has improved our competition results, but most importantly, him building the correct muscle has massively improved his back and is helping to prevent him developing problems in his back!
Fair enough, everything mentioned above can be both good and bad, depending on who is using it and how they are using it. But still. The amount of pony huggers commenting on top level riders is crazy. And if you don’t like a certain piece of tack, don’t use it. But don’t slag off anyone who uses it or insult their methods, especially when you actually know very little about it!
Well that got a bit more aggressive than I was expecting it to get! But I can’t be the only one getting annoyed by these stupid posts and comments! Please share your thoughts and any infuriating posts you have come across!