Sunday, February 19, 2017

In Pursuit of the Perfect Horse

Recently I have seen two important things circulating on Facebook.

One is a commentary in regards to doping in the hunter/jumper industry and how that it is commonplace which no one really thinks twice about.

The other is a photo of an Arabian hunter pleasure horse in a what appears to be a too tight flash noseband, draw reins, and a thin training snaffle.

Both point out that the we are in pursuit of the perfect horse.

How have we created a situation where horses cannot have any bobble?  Too much expression?  Not enough expression for the English Pleasure horses that have had cocaine drug violations! 

Can we go back to the idea where the best horse may really enjoy his or her job jumping the fences?  Maybe the Arabian hunter horse for half a millisecond comes from slightly behind the vertical to almost on or in front of the vertical? 

If a tent blows over, is it so terrible if it's OK if a horse flicks an ear, thinks for a second and then responds to his or her rider?  Isn't that truly the more responsive horse than the horse that requires so much equipment to be subdued that they truly never want to move his head off his chest for fear of punishment? 

There's certainly teaching tools that have proper use in proper hands, but why even permit them on the show grounds?

In this era of camera phones and instant media, more information is being exchanged than ever before. My Facebook is littered with hundreds of friends sharing happy horse selfies, pony hugs, and other such images on a daily basis.  When it comes to show season, I see the show photos, and most bring a smile to my face.

But why even put yourself in the situation where the situation could be misinterpreted in the case of that Arabian hunter horse?  Why use equipment that isn't show ring legal.  There are many that are rushing to the defense of the unnamed rider stating that it is USEF legal to use in the warmup (true), the person loves the horse (no doubt), the photo doesn't show the real situation (perhaps).

But why use such equipment at the show grounds in the first place, except for the pursuit and appearance of a perfect horse.  But to me, that demonstrates that perhaps the horse needs a different job, more training, or a different judging standard where leniency is allowed for momentary bobbles.

I attended a clinic once with an upper level dressage rider who told me he had a horse absolutely blew a movement and received twos, which is basically stating nice try, your horse didn't even really do anything, but great job staying in the ring.  He still won his test and received a respectable score regardless of this major bobble.  I think that's the way these judged events should be.


  1. I know what you mean, I've been in the search for a truly relaxed hunter, my last horse was that horse, and I know that horse exists for my next one. I also don't believe in riding in things you can't show in, whats the point.

  2. I hate practicing in things I don't show in... which is why I don't do it. To me, it doesn't make sense. Why would change your basic equipment right before you go on stage?


Please leave a comment if you like. I love hearing from readers and would like to know that I am not always talking to myself. ;)