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Milo19
May. 30, 2010, 11:30 AM
Serious question.

If you know Richard Spooner or have seen him jump, you understand my question completely. If you haven't seen him or aren't familiar with him, just google him and check out some of the photos that come up.

So my question is... how in the heck does he stay on? He has a HORRIBLE leg, lays on his horse's neck, and seems to have no balance at all... over grand prix fences. Most people would be in the dirt if they rode like that.

It is a wonder of nature, to me.

Lucassb
May. 30, 2010, 11:38 AM
He has amazing balance, that's how. And he is quite capable of fabulous eq, over GP fences. If you can find the video of him riding a GP course a few years ago WITHOUT STIRRUPS it would be very educational. He had an injury and chose to ride without rather than putting weight in the stirrup at least in the first round.

Like a lot of fast riders over big jumps, his leg can slip a bit and he can pivot on his knee. Not at all uncommon.

Coreene
May. 30, 2010, 11:38 AM
Serious answer: because he rides better than 99.999% of the world could ever dream of.

Milo19
May. 30, 2010, 11:48 AM
I realize that he must have good balance in order to be a grand prix rider, period.

But compared to some other jumper riders, such as Beezie Madden or Mclain Ward, who, most of the time, have spotless equitation, how does someone like Spooner get away with such sloppiness?

Thoughts?

Lucassb
May. 30, 2010, 12:01 PM
I realize that he must have good balance in order to be a grand prix rider, period.

But compared to some other jumper riders, such as Beezie Madden or Mclain Ward, who, most of the time, have spotless equitation, how does someone like Spooner get away with such sloppiness?

Thoughts?

Perfect eq is not required to have a very fast round. Richard is known to be "the master of faster," because he can stay in such good balance on the horse to create a very efficient jump and tidy track. And for what it's worth a lot of the european stars have very similar form. I sure wouldn't call it sloppiness; they do what works for them and their horses and are extremely successful at it.

Equilibrium
May. 30, 2010, 12:06 PM
I worked for Richard one winter while I was galloping horses in California. While you may think he's sloppy and it looks that way, he was by far one of the best horseman I ever worked for and got the best out of some tricky horses by being a much better rider. He really is quiet and light at the end of the day. He taught me more in one winter than I had ever learned before and much of that was just by watching and seeing how he interacted with his horses. He is really amazing.

Terri

FAW
May. 30, 2010, 12:08 PM
He has very strong upper body strength which many men have. Interesting form considering didn't he win the USET medal final in NJ as a teen?

Coreene
May. 30, 2010, 12:27 PM
1988 was also reserve champion in both big eq finals. And he's won a class or two since then, so fortunately the OP's concerns are for naught.

Tegan
May. 30, 2010, 12:32 PM
As a kid, we gave him the nickname "floppy legs".

Does he have a son? I remember seeing a similar styled rider at a grand prix about 10 years ago, and as my sister and I were laughing and exclaiming "floppy legs!", a little boy came up and said "that's my daddy!"
Not sure if it was Richard Spooner or not though.

In all serious, I think it would be difficult to ride that way but he obviously does an effective job and has it worked out. I don't think it is sloppy, per say, but he must have a very strong upper leg and knee to pinch onto the saddle.

mroades
May. 30, 2010, 12:32 PM
its called talent

LeeB10
May. 30, 2010, 12:32 PM
Having seen him ride in many GP's I can't say I noticed his poor eq. I only noticed how lovely his horses looked, how well he rode them, how technical and clean he goes, the only criticism I can give is that he can't drive a stick shift truck in the Ride and Drive! ;) and I have video to back that up!

Glorybee
May. 30, 2010, 12:37 PM
It's so easy to criticize from the safety of a keyboard. No offense OP, I'd love to see a video of you ride! I know I'm not remotely close to being a GP rider. And, I'd be happy to have his talent and ability.:D

Equibrit
May. 30, 2010, 12:57 PM
You could say the same about the entire Whitaker family.
http://www.horseplanet.net/riders/riderinfo.asp?rider=John%20Whitaker

Getting a horse over large obstacles doesn't have a whole lot to do with looking pretty

Bravestrom
May. 30, 2010, 01:06 PM
I don't think it has anything to do with how the OP rides. I dislike watching RS ride - can't believe that GM even has him on the US team at times. I also think it is very bad for young people in the sport to watch him.

Personally, he grips with his knees and he is lucky he is so light and that the horses he ride don't stop.

Coreene
May. 30, 2010, 01:11 PM
Oh good lord, just shoot me now. He's on teams because he wins. It's not his responsibility to set an example for the equitation set.

SaturdayNightLive
May. 30, 2010, 01:14 PM
Richard Spooner is an amazing rider. Pictures taken during a grand prix very rarely show the rider's style accurately. Watch a video of Spooner sometime - he is fun to watch.

As others have pointed out, he did ride multiple rounds of a grand prix at Indio with no stirrups because he broke his foot in the warm up. I think he won the class.

I also think there is a video running around of him jumping into a triple, getting into trouble, and dropping his reins and removing himself from his horse's way completely so that they could get out safely. (That could have been someone else, I haven't seen the video in awhile, but I'm pretty sure it's Richard Spooner).

He's an excellent rider and an excellent horseman. That he sometimes grips with his knees doesn't really matter.

Lucassb
May. 30, 2010, 01:15 PM
I don't think it has anything to do with how the OP rides. I dislike watching RS ride - can't believe that GM even has him on the US team at times. I also think it is very bad for young people in the sport to watch him.

Personally, he grips with his knees and he is lucky he is so light and that the horses he ride don't stop.

Most aspiring young riders would do very well to achieve half the success that Richard Spooner has.

Grands prix, nations cups, etc... are objective contests based on who can leave jumps up in the fastest time. They are not equitation classes. What you are saying is a little like saying that a horse with an unconventional style shouldn't get to play either... which would eliminate a ton of very, very successful horses at the highest levels. While it's always lovely to see someone with a beautiful position win, these aren't beauty contests.

supershorty628
May. 30, 2010, 01:29 PM
Lucassb just said it beautifully (as have several other people).

Richard Spooner gets it done and gets it done quickly. Is he the most traditional and classic in his position? No. But does he leave the jumps up and get around the course safely and efficiently? Yes.

Equilibrium
May. 30, 2010, 01:37 PM
I don't think it has anything to do with how the OP rides. I dislike watching RS ride - can't believe that GM even has him on the US team at times. I also think it is very bad for young people in the sport to watch him.

Personally, he grips with his knees and he is lucky he is so light and that the horses he ride don't stop.


With all due respect, you haven't a clue. I'd take him over some pretty riders any day of the week. Don't know too many GP riders that take horses straight from the track and hop on to see what they are like under saddle and over fences. And quite contrary to what you say, horses will jump for him that wouldn't jump for other people.

He had a horse there when I was there named Bentley that I think was one of his first GPmounts. He got him because he use to stop all the time. Thing about the horse was that if you left him alone, let him find the distance, and placed him right he'd never stop. The moment you got in his mouth and were going to tell him how to jump was the moment he stopped. And Kirk was no picnic either. Doubt anyone else would have got him to the level Richard did.

I would suggest spending time with him on young horses or watching him at home before you make judgements as above. He expects much from those that work for him as well in a good way. He actually made me feel very good about my abilities but at the same time really got after me for of all things my form. You know being a crumpled exercise rider and all.

Terri

winfieldfarm
May. 30, 2010, 01:37 PM
I'm gonna throw my hat in this ring...

I don't jump so the names mean not much to me. The ranks don't either. I celebrate success so good for any rider that can hold his or her own at the top levels.

But....it is kind of funny how we all are brought up as riders having equitation preached to us. Then to watch many! professional riders, you would think they never had an equitation lesson in their life.

makes me wonder if all the geometry and physiology of the horse and rider working together against gravity really holds any water. Maybe equitation isn't really that important to ANY level rider?

SaturdayNightLive
May. 30, 2010, 01:44 PM
I'm gonna throw my hat in this ring...

I don't jump so the names mean not much to me. The ranks don't either. I celebrate success so good for any rider that can hold his or her own at the top levels.

But....it is kind of funny how we all are brought up as riders having equitation preached to us. Then to watch many! professional riders, you would think they never had an equitation lesson in their life.

makes me wonder if all the geometry and physiology of the horse and rider working together against gravity really holds any water. Maybe equitation isn't really that important to ANY level rider?


I think you missed the part where Richard Spooner has won numerous equitation titles in his time...

Also, I think if you watch any of those riders go over a 3' or 3'6" course, their equitation would be pretty close to perfect. GP fences are BIG and GP horses are powerful. It takes strong equitation to even stay on at that level.

Equilibrium
May. 30, 2010, 01:49 PM
Hands up how many of us have gone over a big GP class or have ridden those types of horses even over one fence. Quite different than going around a hunter course. And no one isn't better than the other, but it is quite different. That back snap over big fences is amazing which I'm sure I don't even have to say but maybe some just aren't grasping that point.

Terri

farfel
May. 30, 2010, 01:55 PM
He has enough balance and strength to pivot on his knee to get out of the horse's way in the air...unorthodox but it works for him.

CosMonster
May. 30, 2010, 02:01 PM
I think learning proper equitation is important. As others have said, Spooner did compete quite successfully in equitation when he was younger. It kind of reminds me of what Mark Twain said about language (if I'm remembering right, and I know I'm paraphrasing :lol:)--you've got to know the rules before you can break them.

He knows classic good equitation, but he has developed a style that may not always be pretty but works for him and his horses. At least, that's my take on it. I've known a few other pros with "bad" equitation who that is true for as well.

sunnycher
May. 30, 2010, 02:07 PM
I just googled him - got richardspooner.net/video - watched a few rounds filmed at a show in France (where he won), and he had amazing eq. Darn, to ride like that!!!

Clarence
May. 30, 2010, 02:27 PM
I think the OP meant to ask how someone without proper equitation has managed to win so much. That is in no way the same as saying that RS is a bad rider.

Her confusion probably stems from the fact that the major American trainers (not European trainers) always stress the importance of proper equitation and sometimes even claim one cannot ride properly without a McLain Ward equitation.

I think this is a good question. Is equitation really that important then? There are a lot of European riders who don't have perfect equitation (and never learned or had it either), but who ride better than those with perfect equitation.

I know that, for myself, I always strive to improve my equitation as I am just not talented enough to get away with doing things wrongly. Hard enough when doing things halfway right. :-)

Ride'emCO
May. 30, 2010, 02:27 PM
It kind of reminds me of what Mark Twain said about language (if I'm remembering right, and I know I'm paraphrasing :lol:)--you've got to know the rules before you can break them.

Yes, yes, YES! Twain was a very wise man.

RS is a fabulous competitor and - from what I've always heard well before this thread - a wonderful horseman. He can break the rules of Eq if that's what works for him, because he's done the work to build his (exceptional) base of knowledge and he's earned his stripes with NUMEROUS and IMPRESSIVE wins, even in the Eq ring ;). When any of us have reached his level of education and success, THEN maybe we can criticize - though I doubt after all that work, blood, sweat and tears we would.

I can jump a 3'-3'6" course of fences with decent equitation. I doubt that I would be able to stay on if I were to get a horse up to a Grand Prix-sized fence (1.7 meters with up to a 2 meter spread?!? :eek::o)!

OP, how about you?

SaturdayNightLive I would LOVE to see a video of the "save" you mentioned! And Lucasb, the round with no stirrups! :eek: I can't find it online... :no:

mayfieldk
May. 30, 2010, 02:44 PM
I have a question, and take note that this is coming from a very-little-itty-bitty-jump rider (more dressage and flat)--whether or not it's 'pretty' isn't what I'm concerned with. Any time someone posts a video to critique there is usually someone that says equitation isn't just pretty, its functional.

Its to keep the rider safe and to me, more importantly, help the horse do what we are asking to the best of his ability. If we get in his way... we hinder his performance. But we are breeding very athletic horses to do things despite the rider at times (some young children hunter rounds, perhaps?). Does RS's technique fault one of these principles? Is he effective because he ignores his own safety? Is all that 'weight in your heels and don't pinch with your knee' bullpucky? Is that for the rider's safety? Is the 'crotch over the pommel' point moot when the jumps are that big and the horses are that powerful--EVEN THOUGH we see grand prix riders that ARE able to keep these 'ideals' intact over larger jumps?

Could his horses jump better/with less effort/more ease? Is our 'equitation' more of a fashion and not a functional thing? Very curious to see the responses! I has this same thought when someone posted a video of a slow motion horse jumping a very high course (couldn't tell you the height but the video should still be in the off course section)--and the rider's legs were seemingly everywhere.

Equibrit
May. 30, 2010, 02:46 PM
I think the OP meant to ask how someone without proper equitation has managed to win so much. That is in no way the same as saying that RS is a bad rider.

I think you'd be hard pressed to find anybody outside of the United States who would agree with the US notion of "proper equitation". Mr Spooner has been exposed to the outside world, where it doesn't matter how high your butt sticks, how your hands crawl up your horses neck, or how far back you leg swings. !

Saddlebag
May. 30, 2010, 02:59 PM
:confused:Those of you who have the temerity to make critical comments about Spooner's lower leg (over massive jumps in International GPs, no less) did not enjoy the privilage that I had to judge his riding in equitation and medal classes during his junior years, when he competed in Southern California. The first time I saw him ride, he was quite young, but (thanks to the efforts of his mother and Jamie Mann) he demonstrated natural balance, ease, and classical Hunter Seat Equitation. I happened to be at Indio the day he had a badly sprained leg, and still rode all four horses that he had entered in the GP...going clear on all of them! His classic leg served him well on that day! As it did a week ago when he won the Derby at Le Baule with the only clear round out of 45 starters.

How anyone could fault his riding is just plain creepy!:eek:

MistyBlue
May. 30, 2010, 03:00 PM
But compared to some other jumper riders, such as Beezie Madden or Mclain Ward, who, most of the time, have spotless equitation, how does someone like Spooner get away with such sloppiness?

Thoughts?

He's riding jumpers. Not hunters. And not Eq. (and when he rides Eq he looks like he;s riding Eq)

The three over fences disciplines here are very very different and have polar opposite riders and horses for each once you hit the upper levels.

Hunters is horse form and the rider who strives for perfection.

Eq is rider's form and the horse that's trained and moves to show that off.

Jumpers is neither about horse nor rider but the obstacles, the course and the best way to get through both in the time allowed.

When experienced and/or upper level riders ride each different discipline they ride the correct horses for that discipline and ride in the style that's required to win for each different discipline.

Look up some of RS's Eq photos...he can Eq with the best.
In eq he's going to be on a slightly flatter jumper with a slightly more easy-going personality so he can show himself off as the class requires.

In jumpers...well let's just say he's not known for wanting to ride the easiest horses. ;) And when the horses get bolder and the obstacles get higher...and when there are sponsors and a professional reputation to support...function is much more important than form. :yes:

He can still hop on an Eq horse and be first, believe you me. :D

But if he tried to Eq pose on the bolder horses he seems to prefer over larger more difficult courses...he'd be eating footing.

Not to mention that contrary to popular belief it is much easier to have a more eq look over a jumper course when you're small and short limbed on a large horse than it is when you're all arms and legs. A tall upper body as compared to the horse has to get the hell out of the way of the momentum and stay with the balance and motion of the horse. Same with really long legs. And the rider has to have the built in balance that comes from decades of training to be able to do that and stay with the horse instead of hinder it. Margie (my personal fave rider) isn't really worried about her upper body throwing a 17hh horse off balance or her heels bumping a jump rail. :winkgrin:

Elbows will stick out if your arms are very long...and will even stick out if you have to rate your reins often...because with jumpers yoou can't be sliding your hands up and down reins constantly for the enormous release needed and the tighter control on the flat between jumps. There isn't time. So if you need to move your body forward for that release or you need to plants your hands on those reins and when the head comes back towards you...well, your elbows go out because there's nowhere else for them to go. No time to be pinching with one thumb and sliding each hand up and down the reins as needed.

So no, for some long limbed folks jumpers might not look pretty. But it's effective as hell. As evidenced by his show records. And some horses aren't forgiving enough or calm enough on course for hand sliding...so the riders plant the hands and move the rest of themselves as needed.

And once you've been doing all discliplines long enough on many many different types and styles of horses...when you've logged literally countless hours in the tack on almost everything with hooves...you then have evolved past perfect position and can use what's needed when it's needed because your balance in innate at that point and you know what can be done to get the job done and never hinder the horse you're on at that moment in time.

JMHO of course. :cool:

Clarence
May. 30, 2010, 03:07 PM
I think you'd be hard pressed to find anybody outside of the United States who would agree with the US notion of "proper equitation". Mr Spooner has been exposed to the outside world, where it doesn't matter how high your butt sticks, how your hands crawl up your horses neck, or how far back you leg swings. !

Being a European I am well aware of that. :)

So, it really is all about the level according to the people here? Jumpers is about getting the job done, no matter what.
That still does not explain why there is a proper/best equitation being taught. THat is not just for the equitation classes, right?

mypaintwattie
May. 30, 2010, 03:39 PM
Just a thought- but has anyone noticed how tall he is? So perhaps his style evolved out of necessity to get his feet out of the way so he wouldn't knock down any rails:D Come on people, he is a great rider and also genuinely nice as a person, and his mom still runs a barn and gives lessons to many of tomorrows budding equestrian stars.

Aven
May. 30, 2010, 03:54 PM
I would think just ask his horses... If someone's riding is actually 'bad' vs not pretty then it will affect the horses. But looking at his successes I would say his horses are quite happy with how he sits atop them. (and that is who the final arbitrator of whether riding is good or bad should be, the horse)

equitationlane
May. 30, 2010, 04:05 PM
I judged Richard when he was very young, maybe 10 or 11. Rode with his mother and Mark and Victor. He was SO soft, had such an incredible eye, it was hard not to love his riding. You knew, that from an early age, he was going to be a good one.

DaisyHunter
May. 30, 2010, 04:10 PM
Interesting...when you watch riders overseas (Europe, elsewhere)... They don't all ride "huntery" lol. He's getting the job done and is advanced enough to use whatever custom style he prefers. I use to freeze up if I was encouraged to ride with "textbook" style. It's annoying and kills your feel sometimes. Look at plenty of frozen eq. riders you see who perch on top to hold form. I'm like, if your angelic perfect hunter spooks or misses a line, you're going to get dumped right out the front door. It does happen.

But you should still learn good eq.

TheOrangeOne
May. 30, 2010, 04:17 PM
Just a thought- but has anyone noticed how tall he is? So perhaps his style evolved out of necessity to get his feet out of the way so he wouldn't knock down any rails:D Come on people, he is a great rider and also genuinely nice as a person, and his mom still runs a barn and gives lessons to many of tomorrows budding equestrian stars.

A friend of mine asked him this question at a party (not sure how much alcohol was involved, it's for sure the type of thing I would ask after a couple cocktails) and he said that he started doing it riding smaller horses in jumper classes where HE was likely to pull a rail.

adhock
May. 30, 2010, 04:26 PM
How does he stay on?? Clicks his heals three times and says "I want to go clear!

Seriously, he is nothing short of amazing. He is totally with the horse and the horses do amazing things for him. I agree with Coreene--his balance is incredible, too. He is a fantastic horseman: For some reason, his mounts tend to stay sound and almost always look happy. And the people he's helped have really done well (Katherine Bardis, Ashlee Bond). Is he conventional or classical? Not so much. Is he effective! Holy Moly, yes.

Milo19
May. 30, 2010, 04:28 PM
I haven't read every single post, but I will just chime in to say that I, IN NO WAY, am saying that he is a bad rider. I sure as hell have never jumped a fence as big as he has... but my point is this:

I have seen riders who pinch with their knee and have NO lower leg support fall. Often. Because they are out of the saddle and off balance, and it's easy to fall. Over 3' fences. So my point is, how in the world does he stay on in that kind of position over these massive fences?

And I realize he is not an equitation rider. But to me, equitation is not about "looking pretty." The entire sport of equitation is based on the proper position in which to ride in order to be the safest and most effective. That's the point. I realize it's not about looking pretty - but it IS about safety and effectiveness.

Gestalt
May. 30, 2010, 04:35 PM
I think RS is a fabulous rider and his horses are such a variety of types, it would make sense that he learned to ride the type of horse, not the type of riding. (did that make sense?)

I wonder about the eq part of riding, when I first learned how to ride over fences I lost the "feel" I had when I was bombing around on my own. Now instead of sensing the stride/line I need, I have to count strides. Will I ever improve and really develop an eye? I don't know, somehow I think I've lost something.

MoJo
May. 30, 2010, 04:36 PM
I have seen riders who pinch with their knee and have NO lower leg support fall. Often. Because they are out of the saddle and off balance, and it's easy to fall. Over 3' fences. So my point is, how in the world does he stay on in that kind of position over these massive fences?

Because he's Richard Spooner and the other riders are not. In all likelihood, riding ability follows a normal curve, just as intelligence does. the majority of us are average, some are lower than average and some are above average, and a small percentage are superior. The most important thing to take away is that for most of us, pivoting on our knee will not help us win GP's.

Aven
May. 30, 2010, 04:38 PM
I watched some of the vids previously posted of him in France. Anyone notice the logo for the competition? :D

Watching him I found that his style looked more European... and the logo underscored my thoughts...

http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd125/Grey-Run/Clipboard01-1.jpg

hntrjmprpro45
May. 30, 2010, 05:42 PM
What many people do not realize is that there is more than one way to be an effective rider. In my opinion our "American" style of riding emphasizes a tight lower leg more than other countries (for example Germany has many knee pinchers out there). This does not mean it is better or worse, just different. As so many others have pointed out, its all about balance. You can balance over a 5' fence with a pinched knee, no problem (it happens quite a bit in the Grand prix ring)- you just have to be good.

Pretty equitation should not be confused with good riding. I have seen many people compromise good riding to try to look good (pose) over the jumps. On the other end, there are people who compromise looking good to achieve good riding (like Richard Spooner). Here is where we would get into the "Why don't professionals have good equitation? How dare them!!" discussion. Quite frankly the answer is you don't have to "look" good to ride well. Can you do both? Yes, but it isn't necessary and quite frankly, with many pros it isn't even a priority- winning is.

I do have one theory, that may or may not have been mentioned. I think, IN GENERAL, taller riders (or riders who are tall proportionally to their mounts) tend to pinch more with their knees due to how their leg hangs on the horse's barrel. I am tall and long legged, when I ride a pony over big fences, I pinch my knees badly, when I jump a large horse over big fences, my calf can actually take more contact and hold still. I think this may be partially the case with some of the taller german riders or maybe not. Its just a theory.

Trixie
May. 30, 2010, 06:02 PM
And I realize he is not an equitation rider. But to me, equitation is not about "looking pretty." The entire sport of equitation is based on the proper position in which to ride in order to be the safest and most effective. That's the point. I realize it's not about looking pretty - but it IS about safety and effectiveness.

Indeed, for us mere mortals. I wouldn't go insinuating that he's ineffective though.

For those of us who aren't professionals, aren't grand prix riders, and don't ride at the upper levels - yeah, it's best we do what's classically been proven to be effective. But I think that once you're at that point of being an obviously effective, obviously winning grand prix rider, you can have your own style, honed by years of learning what works most effectively for you.

Milo19
May. 30, 2010, 06:14 PM
Indeed, for us mere mortals. I wouldn't go insinuating that he's ineffective though.

For those of us who aren't professionals, aren't grand prix riders, and don't ride at the upper levels - yeah, it's best we do what's classically been proven to be effective. But I think that once you're at that point of being an obviously effective, obviously winning grand prix rider, you can have your own style, honed by years of learning what works most effectively for you.

Very true.

Coreene
May. 30, 2010, 06:17 PM
The minute the Europeans can make more $$ puting their own people through the eq ranks than they can selling Big Eq horses here, they, too, will run an eq division.

lalahartma1
May. 30, 2010, 06:26 PM
This is interesting, because I have been thinking about this whole 'form over function' issue. As a re-rider returning to fences it can be mind-boggling.
I just want to be safe and effective. Maybe one needs to have perfect EQ in order to disregard it for the ride?

Edit: so I just read the pretty is as pretty does and safe and effective posts.
I guess I'm on the right track! :)

MistyBlue
May. 30, 2010, 08:20 PM
That still does not explain why there is a proper/best equitation being taught. THat is not just for the equitation classes, right?

No, not just for Eq classes. :)
Proper form, position and equitation is taught to folks because it's effective and correct for both horse and rider...as the *rider* is learning.
And having the right form, position and equitation is the main basic that you will hone until it becomes second nature to ride that wa.
This can be a very short time for some folks, longer for others. And for many it will take a certain length of time and feel like second nature until they get on a different horse. ;) Which is a very common thing for many to most riders...it's not easy for everyone to have varied equines to ride on a regular basis. Either due to lack of time on the rider's part or lack of available horses for the rider to learn on. And a few riders will just refuse to ride the tough or "un-fun" ones.

Proper correct eq will serve you for ages and ages and up through many levels and different disciplines.

Think of it like learning to drive...you learn the basics and get your license and can get from A to B. As the years go on with daily driving...driving becomes second nature to you. Then you only become more cautious again when driving a new/different/someone else's car. Years more of driving and yoou're pretty used to driving any type of car and do so without thinking about it.
But...put you in a formula 1 car, suddenly not so comfie again. :winkgrin: But you do know the basics for safety and if you stick to those you'll get that car safely around the track. Maybe not at 200+ mph, but you haven't crashed and burned.
Now add in years of practice and training with pros driving that Formula 1 car...adding in different track conditions...and other cars. Now you're zipping along handling your vehicle comfortably enough...but you're certainly not doing it with your hands at 10 & 4 on the steering wheel, not using your turn signals, etc. The basics have gotten you there but you've now scaled down what isn't any longer necessary to keep the car runing smoothly and faster than everyone else. Because the beginner years learning on the Kia and the later years getting comfie with a Mustang or SUV or pickup made everything second nature. You don't think of driving any more than you think about breathing. The extra training on the high performance vehicle by a top pro at higher level competition required the basics being learned and becoming second nature before you could start fine tuning the drive/ride to what wins and is still safe.

FWIW...ride a bunch of different greenies for a few years. Or take in for training/retraining a bunch of problem horses in a row. You'll notice your Eq has gone out the window because you're doing what's necessary for you to stay on, for the horse to feel comfie and to overall have the most effective ride possible. Elbows might come out, a heel up here and there, curling up a bit, etc. It's not just the top competitors who won't use proper Eq all the time...but also those who are fixing or making the horses for others. But yes, the right basics are very very necessary. But because horses are not all identical machines...as you progress you'll find you have to fine tune the basics to get the most out of each ride.

And not to stereotype...but overall I have noticed over time that even at top levels...female riders are more prone to keep a more traditional Eq look in the tack than males in general.

SnapyHappy
May. 30, 2010, 08:37 PM
a long time ago, I rode at his mom's barn. She is such a proud mother and talked of him constantly! (God love you Ginny!) He worked for Ian Miller and trained in Europe. His riding is not sloppy, it is what he learned and incorporated into his own successful style.

Try to be a little more open minded about different riding styles. To be successful at International Grand Prix, (it's a wonder he doesn't fall off) everything is precise, prepared, and the rider knows exactly what he/she is doing every second.

He's a super person and wonderful influence for anyone aspiring to become proficient in any discipline.

tidy rabbit
May. 30, 2010, 09:05 PM
There is WAY too much emphasis on being "perfect" and not very much on "getting the job done"!

I believe this is a bi-product of trainers in the US who want to keep all their riders paying amazingly ridiculous training fees to master the freeking 3' HUNTERS! YAWN.

Do what works for YOU! Find the horses you like to ride and get out there and start doing and stop worrying about "perfect".

tailgate
May. 30, 2010, 09:46 PM
Ha ha, look where Spooner is on his game, he could jump standing on his head for all I care, results speak louder than words or riding style. I wouldn't look at Rich Fellers for equitation either and wow is all I can say when you watch him ride.

It's not about sitting pretty, we have hunters and equitation for that.

pintopiaffe
May. 30, 2010, 11:58 PM
Can I just wander in from complete novice land, and say that I think the *question* can be valid, without at all inferring the TALENT or SKILL is lacking.

I've seen a photo or two--remember the header banner here on CotH one time?--where NOTHING is touching the horse in the air. The horse is jumping huge, the rider is hanging above them, and I think, DANG, how do they do that??

I can see a still shot of RS and wonder, DANG how does he do that, without for a minute taking anything away from his talent.

And that's what it is--TALENT, vs. skill. Skill can be learned. Talent you are born with and skill only hones it.

I actually was hoping for a little more mechanical/biomechanics answer to the Op's question, because I have had the same question more than once... and not necessarily with any particular rider.

last thought--of course Euro riders don't ride like hunters. They don't DO hunters.

claire
May. 31, 2010, 12:19 AM
Amazing, talented rider. With a very unique (but very effective) riding style!

http://www.ridingmagazine.com/riding_onlinemag/article_graphics/2009_05/worldcup18.jpg


http://www.hunterjumpernews.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/03/Spooner%20and%20Quirino%203%20Todd.jpg

gholem
May. 31, 2010, 12:41 AM
I think the following quote by Kurt Vonnegut about Mark Twain is appropriate here:

"His schoolbooks were steamboats and mining camps and newspaper offices and so on. His eventual greatness might almost be taken as an insult to formal education in America. It begs this question: 'What good is school?'

This is the best reply, I think: 'School is for people who are not nearly as gifted as was Mark Twain, who need lessons in counterfeiting gifts they do not have.' It is an unfair world."

Coreene
May. 31, 2010, 12:54 AM
Ah, yeah, except that he did have great teachers and did reach the pinnacle of the eq ranks. And could still throw down a much better eq round than almost anyone.

rabicon
May. 31, 2010, 12:54 AM
I say he adjusts well to what he is doing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UGsH2m1v3I

I saw the video where he was jumping and got into trouble and let the reins go and the horse worked it out. IT WAS AMAZING! Something most people wouldn't do. I give him props. I'm pretty sure it was at Spruce Meadows, I have it on my t.v recorded but can't find it on the computer.

Foxtrot's
May. 31, 2010, 12:56 AM
He has his own style, that's for sure. But he's balanced, talented, has timing and wins. I'm not sure why I am replying to a thread like this, must be a slow Sunday night. Maybe we'll discuss Michael Whitaker while we are at it; if we think we can do better we may have the right to.

superpony123
May. 31, 2010, 12:57 AM
http://www.clubequestrian.com/images/640px/132.aspx

i dont know, doesnt look to shabby. but yeah, to be fair, ive seen a looot of pictures of RS with a very scary knee pinching problem, but then again i've never watched him ride. i think we like to go 'HEY LOOK AT THAT TOP HUNTER/GP RIDER DOING SMOETHING GM WOULD SCREAM ABOUT!'

go ahead. look up pictures of aaron vale or whitaker. or really any GP rider. most of the time, you will NOT find what a picture of "lovely eq' is. i dont think i'd have nice eq either if i was getting a horse over a 5',6' fence.

but more obviously: clearly there must be something he's doing right.

JackMallory
May. 31, 2010, 12:58 AM
There's equitation and there's good riding. They often don't go hand-in-hand (thank God). Many people consider me a good rider but no one in their right mind would pin me in an equitation class because I have the curse of the round shoulders. But I really don't care--I just stay out of the equitation ring. ;)

Though I find Richard's leg a bit...disturbing when it swings, I too saw him ride a GP course without stirrups, and anyone who can do that will always have my undying respect. :)

mypaintwattie
May. 31, 2010, 12:58 AM
I say he adjusts well to what he is doing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UGsH2m1v3I

I saw the video where he was jumping and got into trouble and let the reins go and the horse worked it out. IT WAS AMAZING! Something most people wouldn't do. I give him props. I'm pretty sure it was at Spruce Meadows, I have it on my t.v recorded but can't find it on the computer.

Rabicon you beat me to it- I was going to post this link. It just shows that he can go from ring to ring. He is a great rider and amazing to watch, and Coreene is right when she said he had some of the best teachers. I love watching his mother teach the little up-downers their basic eq. I will admit I chuckled today pulling into the barn while his mom was teaching at the thought of what had been said on this thread. Hands down he is a much better rider than most of us will ever be.

Milo19
May. 31, 2010, 10:17 AM
Can I just wander in from complete novice land, and say that I think the *question* can be valid, without at all inferring the TALENT or SKILL is lacking.

I've seen a photo or two--remember the header banner here on CotH one time?--where NOTHING is touching the horse in the air. The horse is jumping huge, the rider is hanging above them, and I think, DANG, how do they do that??

I can see a still shot of RS and wonder, DANG how does he do that, without for a minute taking anything away from his talent.

And that's what it is--TALENT, vs. skill. Skill can be learned. Talent you are born with and skill only hones it.

I actually was hoping for a little more mechanical/biomechanics answer to the Op's question, because I have had the same question more than once... and not necessarily with any particular rider.

last thought--of course Euro riders don't ride like hunters. They don't DO hunters.

EXACTLY my point.

LaraNSpeedy
May. 31, 2010, 01:00 PM
I agree with the EQ drill thing. Usually a rider with good technical equitation has the right tools to ride better than one that doesnt - but truth is - there is a lot of FEEL that a person gets from experience, practice and sometimes just talent God given. Spooner could do the Eq - I remember moons ago schooling in his arena at LAEC and speaking to him - he was wearing a baseball cap backwards and jumping Robinson over a single 5 foot high pole. A few months or so later - cant remember the timing - he did have an incident where he broke his leg or something - and I was told he's wearing his helmet more when in practice....

But he's more like I was as a kid - I have a ton of pictures jumping over 4 foot - all guts - all balance - all feel - no helmet. Now I see the pictures and am like - what is wrong with this picture? NO HELMET all pony tail.

But seriously - he rides very well and his horses love working for him - so what if his eq is not perfect in the job he is doing- which is not Eq.

That said - I still love looking at my old old picture of Michael Matz on Jet Run...... love seeing someone ride a jumper course and it looks beautiful and in slow motion in a plain snaffle - and POOF the time shows a fast round....

Mozart
May. 31, 2010, 01:27 PM
I also think it is very bad for young people in the sport to watch him.


On the contrary, I think it would be instructive for young people to learn about a rider who's horses win, seem happy in their work and have long careers.

He is actually one of my favourites to watch, for the above reasons and because when God was handing out raw riding talent, he decided to give RS a few extra helpings.

fargaloo
May. 31, 2010, 01:58 PM
Unless you've just wandered over from a tennis or knitting forum, there can be no debate about Spooner's ability/skill/talent as a rider -- he has the record to prove it and then some. The intriguing question for me, and I think for the OP, is HOW he does it biomechanically. For example, pinching with the knee and swinging the lower leg back is biomechanically linked to tipping the body forward, which is why us mere mortals try to avoid it. When RS does it, he must be compensating in some way. Is his upper body so strong that he can compensate? Does his height factor in, as some suggested? And, even more interesting -- given the incontrovertible fact that he can have textbook eq if he wants to, is his signature style actually helping him -- a long, lanky man -- to ride rocket-launcher type horses over big fences?

Mozart
May. 31, 2010, 03:09 PM
The intriguing question for me, and I think for the OP, is HOW he does it biomechanically. For example, pinching with the knee and swinging the lower leg back is biomechanically linked to tipping the body forward, which is why us mere mortals try to avoid it. When RS does it, he must be compensating in some way. Is his upper body so strong that he can compensate? Does his height factor in, as some suggested? And, even more interesting -- given the incontrovertible fact that he can have textbook eq if he wants to, is his signature style actually helping him -- a long, lanky man -- to ride rocket-launcher type horses over big fences?


What do the other tall lanky types do? Ian and Jonathon Millar, Ian Stark, William Fox-Pitt (the fact that Fox-Pitt can stay out of his horse's way on c.c. is, imo, miraculous)

I am going to guess that he is less pivoting off the knee than maybe balancing off it?

That plus a inner mechanism that keeps him over the horse's centre of gravity?

lyndaelyzoo
May. 31, 2010, 03:50 PM
This is amazing

http://www.usef.org/images/wir/hitsca09spooner-quirino.jpg

claire
May. 31, 2010, 05:01 PM
I am going to guess that he is less pivoting off the knee than maybe balancing off it?

That plus a inner mechanism that keeps him over the horse's centre of gravity?

Mozart,
Going by these front and side views, it DOES appear that he is balancing off his knees. He does not appear to have any lower leg on at all?

Front:
http://www.ridingmagazine.com/riding...worldcup18.jpg (http://www.ridingmagazine.com/riding_onlinemag/article_graphics/2009_05/worldcup18.jpg)



Side: http://www.hunterjumpernews.com/wp-c...203%20Todd.jpg (http://www.hunterjumpernews.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/03/Spooner%20and%20Quirino%203%20Todd.jpg)

Milo19
May. 31, 2010, 08:02 PM
This is amazing

http://www.usef.org/images/wir/hitsca09spooner-quirino.jpg

This is what I'm talking about! How in the WORLD... ?!

Wanderluster
May. 31, 2010, 08:36 PM
a long time ago, I rode at his mom's barn. She is such a proud mother and talked of him constantly! (God love you Ginny!) He worked for Ian Miller and trained in Europe. His riding is not sloppy, it is what he learned and incorporated into his own successful style.

Try to be a little more open minded about different riding styles. To be successful at International Grand Prix, (it's a wonder he doesn't fall off) everything is precise, prepared, and the rider knows exactly what he/she is doing every second.

He's a super person and wonderful influence for anyone aspiring to become proficient in any discipline.

I agree, we on the west coast watched him go from aspiring eq rider to seasoned GP rider . He has the versatility to adapt that allows him to gain confidence from all of his horses.
I saw him "spoof" John French's style of the lower leg swing then mimic another riders duck in the air etc. all while playing in the warm-up area.
IIRC the lower leg parallel to the ground is part of a strategy to stay off the horses' back over the bascule of the jump.
I do not have the finesse or balance to incorporate that into my ride . I suspect that few others have that ability to control their body with the deliberation he does.
Form vs. function is a delicate balance at that level.

Anyplace Farm
May. 31, 2010, 08:46 PM
I realize that he must have good balance in order to be a grand prix rider, period.

But compared to some other jumper riders, such as Beezie Madden or Mclain Ward, who, most of the time, have spotless equitation, how does someone like Spooner get away with such sloppiness?

Thoughts?

I think some people are taking offense to your question or at the least, being defensive but I totally get what you are saying. Here's what I say to myself when I see the Richard Spooners and Ian Sillitches of the world go - if I rode like that, I am certain I would fall off because even when I am busting my ass to perform perfect equitation (something that trust, me, I never acheive), I can feel some serious moments of precariousness.

They are freaks of nature and yes, have amazing balance and talent and confidence - something the rest of us just don't have naturally! At least I know I don't! I have to work, work, work at it.

I do envy them.:yes:

pintopiaffe
May. 31, 2010, 10:09 PM
This is amazing

http://www.usef.org/images/wir/hitsca09spooner-quirino.jpg

:eek: :yes:

And that is exactly why those of us who don't understand, would LOVE to know how the HELL he stays on!! :lol:

The lower-leg-parallel DELIBERATELY? I'd love to hear more about that.

I would be so... well, honestly, probably DEAD... if I ended up looking like that in the air. :lol: :p

*jumper*
May. 31, 2010, 10:35 PM
Richard is effective. For a long time I was critical of his leg, as well as how "snappy" he is with his body in the air (seems like he sits up super fast at times). But essentially, he's a very soft rider and his horses try their hearts out for him. Whatever he's doing is certainly working, and I've come to respect him a lot. Is he pretty to watch? Not really, but if you look past the leg, he lays down some of the most beautiful trips out there.

winfieldfarm
May. 31, 2010, 11:58 PM
SaturdayNight - didn't miss at all that RS is ragingly successful in eq. Just saying that I wonder if a rider is able to be this talented and change shape and style based on need, that maybe we don't "need" equitation form as much as we are led to believe for ANY discipline. Ever notice how eq sorta goes out the door when riding bareback. Many riders sit a chair seat while bareback and the balance is better, not worse for it. hmmm....

MistyBlue - I think it was you that did the car driving analogy. That spoke volumes to me and makes perfect sense. Another example - teaching the alphabet to a child where all the letters are very distinctly outlined. As life goes on, we learn different fonts and can read many styles. Letters are all the same. Just a different look and purpose.

I also concur about the long legged rider having to carry the leg differently than a short leg. Once the knee joint passes the widest point of the the rib cage, the leg ceases to lay naturally along the horses rib. It now becomes a learned leg control to keep the thigh closed. Think of the little leadline kid on the big pony. Those little legs just seem to lay naturally closed from crotch to calf on the big beach ball pony tummy.
And when said child outgrows said pony, the most obvious sign is the long legged, open knee, dangly leg position. Time for a bigger pony so child's leg fits the horse.

So perhaps his height has more to do with his high jump style than we think? So does it still come back to physiology? Easier to pinch and balance off the knee than to "hold" the leg on a rib cage of a big jumper? Or is he really Richard Spooner-man, caped avenger, able to leap grand prix jumps in a single bound...sorry, getting a little slappy, it's late.

Seems the thread has gotten back on track to just the basic analysis of whether the biomechanics and physiology of text book eq really matters. I think in any technical endevour, there is the text book application of theory on the generic horse and rider. And then there is real life application and the law of "for every rule, there is an exception". Wonder what George Morris would say about this subject?

Release First
Jun. 1, 2010, 12:18 AM
I think you'd be hard pressed to find anybody outside of the United States who would agree with the US notion of "proper equitation". Mr Spooner has been exposed to the outside world, where it doesn't matter how high your butt sticks, how your hands crawl up your horses neck, or how far back you leg swings. !

This is a video of a young French rider who is winning the big classes. Someone obviously has taught her some beautiful equitation.

Penelope LePrevost (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqdQ_Fpf954)

Richard is an amazing rider and an amazing horseman who spends a lot of time at home working on the fundamentals. His equit is beautiful. In competition, not so much but just watch his communication and timing with his horses. Watch and enoy.

sar2008
Jun. 1, 2010, 10:37 AM
This is amazing

http://www.usef.org/images/wir/hitsca09spooner-quirino.jpg

Aside from this photo being RS, If someone submitted this photo to COTHers to critique--they would get RIPPED APART :eek:

......Just sayin......:cool:

sar2008
Jun. 1, 2010, 10:41 AM
http://www.flickr.com/photos/appaloosa/15857262/

Remember "Robinson?" What a character...

simon74
Jun. 1, 2010, 10:51 AM
I audited a Richard Spooner clinic earlier this year. One of the riders was having difficulty with her horse, which to me looked like a not-terribly talented Appendix. He hopped on the horse, and after about 20 minutes, the horse looked like it was ready to step in the grand prix ring. He is an amazing rider and horseman.

Coreene
Jun. 1, 2010, 11:00 AM
He did the same one year on one of his mom's schoolies after a big A show at our place. Ten minutes later it was a GP horse that could work in at least a fourth level frame and blew everyone's socks off. I swear the horse was smiling, too.

Trixie
Jun. 1, 2010, 11:21 AM
He did the same one year on one of his mom's schoolies after a big A show at our place. Ten minutes later it was a GP horse that could work in at least a fourth level frame and blew everyone's socks off. I swear the horse was smiling, too.

That's only because that horse wasn't crooked in the womb. Otherwise, it's a whole different story.

Coreene
Jun. 1, 2010, 11:33 AM
That's only because that horse wasn't crooked in the womb. Otherwise, it's a whole different story.

Certainly. Then you're required to bring out the shadow roll and double dressage whips.

farfel
Jun. 1, 2010, 04:46 PM
Certainly. Then you're required to bring out the shadow roll and double dressage whips.

LMAO, those were good times.

I just had to pull the thread up....it was so funny: WHEW HEW!

:D

Coreene
Jun. 1, 2010, 05:06 PM
LMAO, those were good times.

I just had to pull the thread up....it was so funny: WHEW HEW!

:DYou had me at "whew hew."

Long Spot
Jun. 1, 2010, 05:23 PM
Because he's Richard Spooner and the other riders are not.

The above made me think of all the Chuck Norris Jokes...you know, death once had a near Chuck Norris experience...

Which then got me to thinking

The speed of light dreams of going Richard Spooner.
Physics wants to defy Richard Spooner.
A measuring wheel wants to see a distance like Richard Spooner.

Back to our reguarly scheduled upper level rider due to jealousy bashing. :D

loshad
Jun. 1, 2010, 05:38 PM
Whatever happened to poor, crooked from birth Chase? That thread was amazing, as was its spin-off (on another board) that was called something like "I'm sorry, Mr. Spooner." Good times.

The Centaurian
Jun. 1, 2010, 05:51 PM
Richard Spooner is an amazing rider. Pictures taken during a grand prix very rarely show the rider's style accurately. Watch a video of Spooner sometime - he is fun to watch.

As others have pointed out, he did ride multiple rounds of a grand prix at Indio with no stirrups because he broke his foot in the warm up. I think he won the class.

I also think there is a video running around of him jumping into a triple, getting into trouble, and dropping his reins and removing himself from his horse's way completely so that they could get out safely. (That could have been someone else, I haven't seen the video in awhile, but I'm pretty sure it's Richard Spooner).

He's an excellent rider and an excellent horseman. That he sometimes grips with his knees doesn't really matter.

I remember this well-- it was at Spruce Meadows-- he practically crashed the first jump, dropped his reins completely, and somehow managed to jump out of the combination without knocking another rail. Who cares about eq? RS has more talent in his pinky than most people have in their whole bodies.

CosMonster
Jun. 1, 2010, 06:38 PM
LMAO, those were good times.

I just had to pull the thread up....it was so funny: WHEW HEW!

:D

Haha, thanks for linking that. Spring cleaning is done and I can't do horse stuff due to an electrical storm so I was sitting around bored...that thread sure changed that! :lol:

SGray
Jun. 1, 2010, 06:43 PM
How does Richard Spooner stay on?


magnets???

make x it x so
Jun. 1, 2010, 08:32 PM
How does Richard Spooner stay on?


magnets???


I'll bet he got custom breeches with magnets in the knee patch that correspond to magnets in his saddle! Y'know, kinda like the OnTyte stirrups, only more like OnTyte britches and kneerolls!!!:lol:

RegentLion
Jun. 1, 2010, 11:24 PM
I think, a while back, or a long while back, GM did a "jumping clinic" column that included a GP rider with its legs back.

Basically, IIRC, GM said something to the effect of "He's staying out of the way of the horse jumping a huge effing fence so his legs can do whatever they want. He's soft and following."

That is the gist, as I recall anyway.

I'm thinking that once you get to the point that you're riding that big of fences...you've already gone through the basics and can "do" them and after that any changes you make are things that you know are going to help your horse jump bigger and better.

My trainer yells at me for locking my heel too low... because it ends up making my leg rigid and that negatively affects my ride. Not all "equitation" things are going to improve all horses.

At the end of the day, if I could ride like RS, I would, and I'd laugh at a bunch of ninnys on the interwebz whining over the fact that my leg wasn't locked, loaded, and still at the girth.

Milo19
Jun. 2, 2010, 10:36 AM
Aside from this photo being RS, If someone submitted this photo to COTHers to critique--they would get RIPPED APART :eek:

......Just sayin......:cool:

This is kind of my point as well... when I was comparing RS to Madden and Ward and other riders with excellent equitation. If he was anyone else, he would be torn apart for such equitation... so how does he get away with it?

Coreene
Jun. 2, 2010, 10:55 AM
Good lord, pages into this thread you're still asking? Because he's not "anyone else" and he's not riding in a 3'6" eq class. Really, it's not brain surgery. Teams are not chosen by how well a person keeps their heels down.

Mozart
Jun. 2, 2010, 11:45 AM
I actually thought about this a bit (shocking, I know). I think he wants to interfere as little as possible over the apex of the jump and for him that includes any unnecessary leg contact.

Therefore, he simply (simply lol) uses his knee as a balance point and because of his extra-ordinary balance he can maintain his position over the horse's centre of gravity with only that point of contact.

Anyone less talented and balanced would be levitating off their horse over the jump and then crashing back down on the neck or back. Remember that video of the saintly horse jumping with crotch destroying rider? That is what happens when mere mortals have no balance and grip with their knee.

Anyway, unless and until RS himself comes on to the board to explain otherwise...that's my theory and I'm sticking to it :winkgrin:

eclipse
Jun. 2, 2010, 11:58 AM
Good grief, certain people are STILL wondering why RS is a GOOD rider??? He just IS!! In my mind good equitation isn't about the posing and looking pretty, it's about getting the BEST ride out of the horse, and Richard Spooner certainly gets the best ride out of his horses. Is he pretty in the air? No, but those are some BIG fences and he stays OUT OF THEIR WAY!! He doesn't fight them, he doesn't yank on their mouths, so what if his legs swing???? Getting the best out of your horse....that to me, is good equitation...case closed.

Canterbury Court
Jun. 2, 2010, 01:27 PM
Richard does not have classic conformation for a rider. He has a relatively short leg length compared to his torso. That makes his center of gravity higher and moves it above rather than below the saddle. He compensates for that by great balance. He also spent time learning from one of the worst conformed and most successful riders there ever was - Hugo Simon. Hugo was told he would never be allowed on the German Olympic team. He then became an Austrian citizen, was on their silver medal Olympic team and won the World Cup times. He is still riding (and winning a Grand Prix this year) at age 67. Hugo does a tremendous amount of dressage and uses very classic techniques to keep his horse in front of his leg. Watching Hugo ride you can clearly see his influence on Richard. They both sit up and stay out of their horses' way so the horse can get the job done

That being said I would still love to tie knots in Richard's reins so that he could give his horses a bit of support on those few occasions they need it.

Cita
Jun. 2, 2010, 01:37 PM
No, people are not wondering "why" Richard is a good rider. They are wondering *how* he is a good rider. As in what, specifically, about his style benefits (or doesn't benefit) the horse/performance, and what, specifically, about his style benefits (or doesn't benefit) himself and his ability to stay on over big jumps.

Nobody's saying he isn't a good rider. But when we're all indoctrinated into the belief that if you don't have your legs by the girth, heels down, and eyes up you will instantly not only fall off but ALSO DIE, you see someone like Spooner riding very successfully with a form that we have been taught is "wrong" and you start to re-think what you've been taught.

The thread isn't about criticizing Spooner, but rather learning from him. IMO at least.

foursocks
Jun. 2, 2010, 01:56 PM
Ok, for the nth time: balance. Mr. Spooner has an amazing amount of control over his body. He can use all of his aids independently of each other, use some, use all, use only one- it doesn't matter because he's not interfering with his horse.

What you see with his riding are positive aspects of nature and nurture, and I think he has gotten a generous portion of both. Watch some of the top riders- both jumpers and hunters- especially the tall men and you will see that their center of balance is very stable regardless of what the horse is doing. Just...um....well, stare at their bums and you will see that they move with the horse, never against (unless they want to use their seat to slow down or drive, of course). Do that long enough and you wont see the ducking, the weird hunched back some of them have, the swinging lower leg- you will see someone who is balanced and not interfering with the horse.

I spent all yesterday morning watching the pros ride at Devon and saw some of the "worst" eq. produce the nicest rounds, both in the jumpers and hunters.

I'm not nearly balanced enough to get away with any of that- I would be interfering with my horse and he'd be pissed off about it. When you see a horse put in a perfect round with a happy look in its eye, you know the rider is giving it a pleasant experience. That's the proof in the pudding, isn't it? The horse's performance?

So for those of us who don't have that amazing sense of balance and accuracy and judgment and sheer physical ability, we work on useful equitation to help us get closer to those things. Perching and posing and getting ahead are not useful, while a relaxed yet present leg wrapped around the barrel matched with a stable upper body and good hands- i.e. good equitation- are useful because they give us better balance than we would have without stepping into that framework. It's not rocket science.

Wanderluster
Jun. 2, 2010, 02:03 PM
I taught a few lessons to Chanda and Chase completely naive to the fiasco she started here.
She is very nice, the horse seemed fine , I had no desire to ride him. Thank goodness I would have given the poor girl a stuttering fit.
They do make a really fine bottle of wine, I was given a bottle or two along with my check.
Spooner has an extra vertebra in his neck BTW, that's what makes him stay on. :lol:

Right on Target
Jun. 2, 2010, 02:05 PM
I think it is a very interesting thread as well. It doesn't have anything to do with anyone's level of riding, the question is whether the form we have been taught as "correct" is the best or the only way to ride a jump efficiently.

It would be interesting to see a very slow motion jump to see exactly how RS is balanced at each point in the jump. Some computer/physics geek may be able to analyze whether the horse is better able to use itself with the rider barely anchored by the knees.

I too have pondered the ideal seat position because riding bareback, most people use a chair seat and it is very effective and natural.

In addition, watching GM ride, I notice that he sits in a bit of a chair seat while saying how he is perfectly lined up. Obviously he is older and not as flexible as he used to be, but I have been thinking that perhaps his chair seat is an efficient position for him. He seems to think his heel is under his hips, but it isn't.

I'm not saying that using RS's form or a chair seat is something for people to emulate, but there is value in looking at different styles and evaluting them on their efficiency.

Come Shine
Jun. 2, 2010, 02:09 PM
How does Richard Spooner stay on?

magnets???

Now - there's a marketing idea!!! Sign me up!

Equilibrium
Jun. 2, 2010, 03:18 PM
I can't belive OP is still asking the same question. OP you need to remember he rides a number of horse each and every day. He jumps in the big classes probably every weekend. What is old hat to him is a serioulsy big deal for mere mortals such as ourselves.

Equitaion gives you the basics to be able to ride properly. Once you get on in your riding you find a style that works for you the horse and the situation. I ride a lot of babies and horses just being started. If you would see me on one you would think "what a sack of crap". But then you might realize my legs are in front of the girth for a reason, my stirrups are longer for a reason, and my very giving hands aren't perfect for a reason. I can't be up there looking pretty waiting for big scary monsters to come. My center of balance is different to what I would need jumping a course. And over here in Ireland most kids grown up riding across the country and not in an arena. They might not look like classic riders but boy can they ride.

Terri

DMK
Jun. 2, 2010, 04:12 PM
Aside from this photo being RS, If someone submitted this photo to COTHers to critique--they would get RIPPED APART :eek:

......Just sayin......:cool:


This is kind of my point as well... when I was comparing RS to Madden and Ward and other riders with excellent equitation. If he was anyone else, he would be torn apart for such equitation... so how does he get away with it?

Aw, c'mon! For realz? ;) Our Olympic Standard should be "WWCS?" (what would COTH say) :D :D :D

Luckily for us, our Olympic Team members do not take an Internet Evaluation by a Horde of (mostly clueless) Internet Strangers as a path to Riding Self Improvement, to which I can only offer up a hearty ...

WHEW HEW!!!

:lol:

Phaxxton
Jun. 2, 2010, 04:15 PM
Aw, c'mon! For realz? ;) Our Olympic Standard should be "WWCS?" (what would COTH say) :D :D :D

Luckily for us, our Olympic Team members do not take an Internet Evaluation by a Horde of (mostly clueless) Internet Strangers as a path to Riding Self Improvement, to which I can only offer up a hearty ...

WHEW HEW!!!

:lol:

I REALLY wish COTH had an applause emoticon... :yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes:

lmlacross
Jun. 2, 2010, 05:37 PM
I've seen a looot of pictures of RS with a very scary knee pinching problem, but then again i've never watched him ride. . . .but more obviously: clearly there must be something he's doing right.

Superpony makes a good point. Is it really a knee-pinching "problem" when the guy lays down jumper rounds like he could do it in his sleep? What he has that most of us don't us a lifetime of experience with some of the greatest trainers out there-- some he's studied under, some are his colleagues. He has developed a style that allows his horses to perform well and is made possible (in my very, very humble estimation) by incredible natural (and learned) balance.

It is a level of confidence in the tack that most of us will never develop, and so we rely on the fundamentals of workmanlike equitation to ride the jumps safely. We need to-- it's a good application of practical equitation, and it keeps us safe. We must rely on our building blocks of eq in order to execute, no matter the discipline. Spooner has these building blocks--and I'd be willing to bet he still imparts them to those he teaches--but they are tools in a varied arsenal.

As to the OP's question of "how" can he ride the way he rides without compromising his security in the tack, all I can say is that he has developed an ability, over years of experience, with which most of cannot identify.

As for another poster's assertion that GM (or others) as Chef shouldn't allow Spooner to represent the US in international competitions b/c his eq sends the wrong message to young riders-- well that's simply assinine. Our job as a US team is to win, not to concentrate on textbook equitation rounds over 5+' fences for the youngters. It's the job of juniors' trainers to provide the fundamentals. It's the job of the US Team to WIN. Period.

Milo19
Jun. 3, 2010, 10:45 AM
No, people are not wondering "why" Richard is a good rider. They are wondering *how* he is a good rider. As in what, specifically, about his style benefits (or doesn't benefit) the horse/performance, and what, specifically, about his style benefits (or doesn't benefit) himself and his ability to stay on over big jumps.

Nobody's saying he isn't a good rider. But when we're all indoctrinated into the belief that if you don't have your legs by the girth, heels down, and eyes up you will instantly not only fall off but ALSO DIE, you see someone like Spooner riding very successfully with a form that we have been taught is "wrong" and you start to re-think what you've been taught.

The thread isn't about criticizing Spooner, but rather learning from him. IMO at least.

THANK YOU.

:yes:

DMK
Jun. 3, 2010, 11:02 AM
But when we're all indoctrinated into the belief that if you don't have your legs by the girth, heels down, and eyes up you will instantly not only fall off but ALSO DIE, you see someone like Spooner riding very successfully with a form that we have been taught is "wrong" and you start to re-think what you've been taught.

The thread isn't about criticizing Spooner, but rather learning from him. IMO at least.

You might be indoctrinated. I grew up around rodeos. You want to stay on a critter performing fantastic gyrations that make a GP jump seem almost boring, you will quickly observe it has absolutely zero to do with heels and calf position and a whole lot more with keeping your body's balance point/fulcrum in tune with the center of gravity of the animal you are trying to stay on.

It's not a mystery or even rocket science, but a leg in a a proper position is very helpful to the less talented among us to finding and keeping our balance and get it in sync with the horse. Some people are just born with more balance than you and they don't need the "crutch" that most people need, just like some people are born seeing the distance and the rest of us work to learn it.

loshad
Jun. 3, 2010, 01:59 PM
You might be indoctrinated. I grew up around rodeos. You want to stay on a critter performing fantastic gyrations that make a GP jump seem almost boring, you will quickly observe it has absolutely zero to do with heels and calf position and a whole lot more with keeping your body's balance point/fulcrum in tune with the center of gravity of the animal you are trying to stay on.

It's not a mystery or even rocket science, but a leg in a a proper position is very helpful to the less talented among us to finding and keeping our balance and get it in sync with the horse. Some people are just born with more balance than you and they don't need the "crutch" that most people need, just like some people are born seeing the distance and the rest of us work to learn it.

Word. And then there are some of us who were learned to jump from crusty old European guys (COEGs) who with great deliberation -- and no thought at all as to what GM would say! -- taught us to jump (and land) into our knees. I cannot begin to express the amount of time it has taken me to unlearn that style.

Foxtrot's
Jun. 3, 2010, 06:49 PM
Ah yes, the "Grip with the Knee" style. Once taught that, it is hard to get out of it. I even see instructors, who would never teach it, but put them on a horse and they revert to their old ways. Also, as I think Terri said, once a rider is at a certain level they can develop whatever style suits them and their sense of balance....if they still win, the horse is still jumpng, it can't be all wrong - but the point of the thread was not to criticize RS, but to wonder at the style.

Thoroughbred1201
Jun. 3, 2010, 06:52 PM
He doesn't always. I remember watching a memorable round of his at Spruce Meadows a few years go. He came down the big bank and ended up crashing his horse through the jump at the bottom. It was complete rider error due to his position, pure and simple. He pivoted off his knee and ended up on his horses' neck and buried him at the base of the jump. His horse tried to save them both and get the job done, but it didn't work. Spooner was on the ground, and that was that.

So no, he doesn't always. If I'd been the owner of the horse, I wouldn't have been happy.

However, he's got amazing instincts, an incredible eye, and great balance, so 99% of the time, those trump position, but not always.

nomeolvides
Jun. 3, 2010, 07:12 PM
This sort of reminds me of a submission to "bad riding" on livejournal. It was John Whitaker on Milton. I can't believe anyone can have the nerve to say Richard Spooner shouldn't be on teams because he doesn't have perfect "eq".

Fun Size
Jun. 3, 2010, 10:13 PM
You might be indoctrinated. I grew up around rodeos. You want to stay on a critter performing fantastic gyrations that make a GP jump seem almost boring, you will quickly observe it has absolutely zero to do with heels and calf position and a whole lot more with keeping your body's balance point/fulcrum in tune with the center of gravity of the animal you are trying to stay on.

It's not a mystery or even rocket science, but a leg in a a proper position is very helpful to the less talented among us to finding and keeping our balance and get it in sync with the horse. Some people are just born with more balance than you and they don't need the "crutch" that most people need, just like some people are born seeing the distance and the rest of us work to learn it.

Makes me wonder...maybe it IS indoctrination?

Not that I am at that point by a long shot out of a rocket, BUT, sometimes I wonder if some of the stuff I am forcing my body to do is really necessary.

Maybe we should all be working on balance, timing, and helping the horse more and looking pretty less?

FAW
Jun. 3, 2010, 10:51 PM
He doesn't always. I remember watching a memorable round of his at Spruce Meadows a few years go. He came down the big bank and ended up crashing his horse through the jump at the bottom. It was complete rider error due to his position, pure and simple. He pivoted off his knee and ended up on his horses' neck and buried him at the base of the jump. His horse tried to save them both and get the job done, but it didn't work. Spooner was on the ground, and that was that.

So no, he doesn't always. If I'd been the owner of the horse, I wouldn't have been happy.

However, he's got amazing instincts, an incredible eye, and great balance, so 99% of the time, those trump position, but not always.

He came down the bank too fast on Robinson. Also he didn't have a chin strap for his helmet and it came off as he hit the ground. He was pretty dazed and was carted off. Next time, he had a chin strap on . Some lessons are learned the hard way. I remember him going through that triple combination with no stirrups. Asked later how he stayed on, he said he practiced a lot without stirrups through similar kinds of fences as a kid.

DMK
Jun. 3, 2010, 11:22 PM
Makes me wonder...maybe it IS indoctrination?

Not that I am at that point by a long shot out of a rocket, BUT, sometimes I wonder if some of the stuff I am forcing my body to do is really necessary.

Maybe we should all be working on balance, timing, and helping the horse more and looking pretty less?

Well, I wouldn't be knocking proper equitation, but I think those of us that grew up hell bent for leather ... wait, make that hell bent for bareback, because we couldn't be bothered to put our cheap ol' saddles on our horses ... we might not be pretty in the tack, but our butts generally know which way the horse is headed well before our brains, and quite frequently even before the horse knows. That won't always serve you well in eq classes, but it's nice when you are riding a baby, a tough horse or you get yourself in a bit of a pickle.

However I say that as person who is long on stickability and short on form, so it could be I'm just jealous. ;)

Nah, I really think there's something to be said for both. Instinctive and finely honed balance has its place. Being able to lengthen your leg and use a seat bone like a finely tuned machine to achieve a subtle aid is a beautiful thing as well. Being able to use both without even thinking about it? Yeah, there's a reason why I have "ammy" on MY card!

sp56
Jun. 3, 2010, 11:56 PM
To me at least, it seemed that Richard Spooner might have been a "one hit wonder" so to speak with Robinson. I HATED his style, and could only think about how much of a saint Robinson was. I watched him at the WC one year try to slice a triple bar pretty much parallel to the jump and Robinson ran out (or rather, kept going straight and to the side of the jump). It made me so sad to watch him make a greedy mistake like that when he could have clearly won anyways if he had taken a slightly wider track.

But then I watched him about 6 months ago at a show. He had two mounts and I had never seen him ride better! The horses were collected, his position was much much stronger, and he put down two beautifully executed jump-offs. His rides were thoughtful and it was wonderful to watch as he galloped from one end of the ring to the other, jumped, collected for the inside turn, jumped and galloped to the other end to the last fence. Stunning.

After I watched him ride, I heard that he spent some time with a well-known instructor recently and I believe it because boy was there a change. I give him a lot of credit for looking to better his riding even though he has been quite successful.

I noticed that most of the time his legs swing over the oxers. Watching the video, it doesn't look nearly as bad as the snap shots. He does use the horse's neck for support. Momentum keeps him with his horse.

There's a reason why the equitation stops at 3'9". ;)

Although I do remember Anne Kursinski saying that Form Follows Function...

Mozart
Jun. 4, 2010, 12:47 PM
Word. And then there are some of us who were learned to jump from crusty old European guys (COEGs) who with great deliberation -- and no thought at all as to what GM would say! -- taught us to jump (and land) into our knees. I cannot begin to express the amount of time it has taken me to unlearn that style.

omg yes.
I still remember my old ex-RCMP Pony Club instructor teaching me this. Thanks Sgt!!!

Justice
Jun. 4, 2010, 02:01 PM
I generally stay away from these threads. However, every time I see this title it makes me cringe. And laugh. But then I cringe again.

Pure awesomeness is the flip answer. Outstanding skill is the second. Go take just one lesson with Jamie Mann who taught Richard when he won both the Medal and the Maclay finals, and I think you'll be confident that he has the skills he needs to McGyver himself and his horses out of any situation that might arise.

Additionally, Richard is always kind and friendly to others at horse shows, which means a great deal to the young jumper riders who idolize him. He often makes up nicknames for them and you can see their faces light up when they realize that Richard Spooner actually knows who they are!

IMO, kindness is highly underrated. It seems unkind to me to use a public forum to try to pick apart the "Master of Faster..." not to mention ridiculous.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jun. 5, 2010, 12:51 AM
Now that I've read this whole thread and the other one, AND stayed up past my bedtime, I just want to know if that girl ever rode in that clinic and what happened?

No comment on RS riding--I'm not qualified. But that French Derby footage was really cool.

Good Night.