Biggest riding pet peeve

26. Biggest riding pet peeve

Biggest riding pet peeve that I do: I still ride like a polo player. Polo ponies don't do leg pressure. They think any pressure with your leg is go, go faster, go more faster, or possibly turn, spin, or push sideways. This means I do not keep my leg on the horse when riding. I don't actually think this is terrible. I prefer horses that like to go and don't need to be kicked every single second. My jumper training in high school didn't involve a lot of over-use of leg either. Horses were taught to go forward when asked and maintain forward until asked to stop.

Riding a slow horse - why is my leg back here
This horse's name is Toaster and he was just as sensitive as his namesake
However, when I take lessons on horses that have been trained to rely on constant leg pressure, I don't do well at all. I've actually had a few lessons where, as the new person at the barn, I get put on the slowest, pokiest (safest) horse and look like I do not know how to ride. I tip forward and get unbalanced trying to keep my leg on all the time. As soon as I get to ride a decently forward horse, I get shocked comments from the instructors about how much better I look. And then I get to do bigger, better jumps and ride the better horses.

Forward horse - it's almost like I know how to ride
Biggest riding pet peeve that others do: only being able to ride push-button horses. Unfortunately, horseback riding is not a vey meritocratous sport. Sure, the very best riders may manage to scrounge their way up from the bottom, but at your average show, the people winning are the ones with enough money to pay a trainer to keep their very expensive, probably imported, push-button horse in daily training. They hop on once or twice a week for a lesson where the trainer works really hard to keep the client from ruining all the trainer's hard work and then they go to a show, drug the hell out of their horse, and hop on for a few rounds to win all the pretty ribbons. 

I'm not opposed to people having money or using it in the sport. If I had more money, I'd love to have consistent training. However, I don't think it's fair that we've come to such a stage where those without the money cannot even compete on a remotely level playing ground. It's not fair to the people who don't want to drug their ponies.

I spent years teaching young kids how to ride at camps and a met a lot of kids who loved horses and rode all the time at home, but could not handle the camp horses (rented and not always awesome, but really not that bad). They would have mental breakdowns when their horses acted up and could not apply themselves to solving the problem. They would just be reduced to tears and cry about how the horses they rode at home didn't do this. Not all of the kids were like this, but I hated this trend in riders.

I've spent some time talking to trainers and a lot of them see the same trends. They're all worried about the future of horses. I'm not saying everyone needs to break their own horse or ride through dangerous behavior,  but I do think a good rider should have to do more than just hop on and win a ribbon.