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Trail Riding Pet Peeve

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  • Trail Riding Pet Peeve

    I've been riding for years. Beyond years. Hundreds...okay, not that many. You get the point though. I've trained Arabs and Thoroughbreds, and trained in Dressage, Show Jumping, Equitation, and a medley of other disciplines. (And of course Trail Riding)

    However, it seems as though anyone, regardless of their experience, can buy a Tevis-ready Arabian, hop on, and go ride. They may slump forward so much they almost fall off, yank on their horse's face each trot post, but they're treated as legit and no one seems to care.

    BUT REALLY?!?!?!

    I see probably about 50% of the Tevis Cup riders each year looking like they're experienced, knowledgeable, and can actually RIDE. And I'm cheering for them all the way.

    Then there are the, "Ooh! Cool! Horsey ride!" kind of folks, who just have the cash or connections to ride fancy fit Arabians. They make me want to absolutely puke.

    Basically, am I just completely insane? Or is Endurance Riding one of the equestrian disciplines which doesn't need experience or skill, just horse? It just seems as though the integrity of the sport has declined, and now it's just about how good the horse is, not how good the rider is.

  • #2
    I think there are other disciplines, too, where the actual riding ability of the riders isn't all that great. They just plonk enough money into the good horses and/or good trainers and figure they don't need lessons for themselves.

    I've seen it in "pleasure horse" riders at shows. The horse is so point-and-click that it pretty much knows the routine, and the rider's idea of "getting ready for a show" amounts to going for a haircut and manicure then driving to meet the trainer at the show.

    I've seen it in some of the barrel racers and pole-benders. Yeah, they go fast, but they look like they're just all over the place on their horses' backs, in the horse's face the entire time. Not saying they all do this. In fact, the ones who look the most "steady" on their horse's backs are usually the ones who win.
    Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.


    • #3
      Originally posted by JollyBadger View Post
      I think there are other disciplines, too, where the actual riding ability of the riders isn't all that great. ....

      I've seen it in "pleasure horse" riders at shows. The horse is so point-and-click that it pretty much knows the routine, and the rider's idea of "getting ready for a show" amounts to going for a haircut and manicure then driving to meet the trainer at the show.
      I will admit, I am fairly ignorant when it comes to endurance riding. I have shared barns with people who were dedicated and accomplished endurance riders – good horse people, and good riders.

      That said, I have watched some videos from the Tevis Cup- and wholly molly! I agree, some were good riders as I would expect, and some… umm.. it seems like they had no idea of how to even ride up a hill! The “better” ones at least gave their horse’s their heads, and let them figure it out. The terrible ones were an absolute hindrance to their horse, hanging on for dear life like a sack of potatoes, throwing the poor horses off balance, and just not helping AT ALL.

      While I agree with this statement (I have known some western pleasure riders who do just this… MAYBE lesson / ride once a month, otherwise the trainer works the horse, and “rider” shows up at the shows, gets on, and “looks pretty”.

      But there is a LOT more at stake at a ride like Tevis Cup. The distance and terrain demand some riding ability. Not exactly jogging around a “show pen” at 1.5mph.
      APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


      • #4
        so you're saying some of these people are paying someone else to "fit up" their horse for them, then they hop on and ride Tevis?


        • #5
          Hey, if you follow that gaming site WOW you'll find that weapons and characters are all available for a price. You may kill it off in the first half hour but by God you can play at that level for that half hour!

          The only endurance riders I've ever met personally were just as fit as the horse, but if Tevis is on your bucket list . . .
          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
          Incredible Invisible


          • #6
            It's in many disciplines but in some it's easier to get away with than others.

            For example there are a lot of TRAINERS in the show jumping world that have horrible riding skills. To me, good riding is not only accomplishing your goal, but doing it with a supple, collected horse. There are what I like to call "mechanical riders" who can do the 4'+ jumps and not fall off but they don't actually look good doing it and their horse never seems relaxed or supported. When a horse is truly collected and supported by its rider (and this requires extensive knowledge to do, even I have trouble with it) it not only does the jumps, but does them beautifully and with flow.

            I sometimes wonder how a lot of these people get around calling themselves professionals.


            • #7
              This is not uncommon when showing in many disciplines. Why should endurance be any different? People can afford to pay for a trained mount, then pay for (a trainer or whoever) someone else ride it and hop on when the " big day" arrives.

              It was also common in the days ( long ago) when I was at a boarding barn for many horses to sit for months on end in their stalls. The owner would come out with a group of people to ride the horse. It always amazes me that they weren't killed.


              • #8
                I, too, have noticed that when I watch endurance ride clips on youtube, especially the bigger,well known ones like the Tevis. Made no sense to me and I always chalked it up to a tired rider, but what you say makes sense. I know they do it in other riding disciplines, so why not endurance riding?? Crazy and not easy on the horse ... We'll just hope they are super sore the next day and don't want do it again for a long time!
                Horse'in around in Upstate NY


                • #9
                  Go to a local barrel race and you will see all kinds of people on horses. The ones that win ride well because they stay out of their horses way and let them get the job done. The rest are a wreck waiting to happen.


                  • #10
                    You see it in all disciplines. Dressage in particular people can go out and buy a very well trained horse and be showing FEI levels relatively quickly. I've seen a lot of "ammies" riding horses like that with a poor seat and just barely getting through it. Used to drive me nuts...now I feel sorry for them as most will pay a fortune to some trainer just to keep the horse rideable for them.

                    You don't see this as much in eventing due to the danger factor. I have not been to an endurance ride yet but it doesn't surprise me to hear it's gotten that way.


                    • #11
                      There is nothing like a middle aged man, who has money, going and buying a cutting horse just because they have the funds to do so. They can't get their horse around the warm up pen on the correct lead to save their life, but that's okay, because the only reason they are in the warm up pen is their trainer is either showing another horse or working turnback.

                      If you have enough money, you can buy a trained cutter who will totally take care of you and do both your job and his! Plus, you even get to hang onto the horn and not get penalized!

                      It is true with every discipline! If you have enough money, you do not have to be talented!
                      "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White


                      • #12
                        And the gaited world...sigh!

                        In fact, if you want my opinion, THAT is where the pads/chains/soring REALLY got developed. See. I HAVE known some amazingly good gaited horses who, with time and development, can lift those feet and flash and STILL be in a smooth, 4 beat gait. It takes YEARS, and a horse that WANTS to work with a rider that is balanced. When you see that, it is amazing, and unmistakable. Look at some of the old video of the OLD TWHs.

                        But it takes WORK! Then came the lightbulb moment: A poorly gaited horse with too much lateral movement could be trained for months in tall grass, deep sand, etc. and go square and smooth OR you could slap on weight and "Break the Pace". AND the weight would make the hoof throw higher, too! YOWZA! Fixed in 30 minutes, not 6-12 months! Of course, the horse often acclimates, and the weight increases, the horse gets sore and resists, so the bit/spur is increased (which increases the ventroflexion, which increases the pace, which allows for more weight...) and all it requires of the rider is to pay the trainer, turn a blind eye to the look in the horse's eye, and cling like a monkey on a football to those 14" shanked bits.

                        And on a different note, you cannot IMAGINE how distressing it is to watch a sack rider decide they want to do Endurance, but they don't want to trot-THEY want to go GAITED! Yes, there ARE gaited horses who can do endurance, and do it WELL. (I'll make that argument at another time). BUT, even a well bred, well trained gaited horse has difficulty doing endurance with an unbalanced rider who does not realize their own deficiencies. IF you have the skill to develop a relaxed gait, and help your horse maintain it (adjusting to the terrain/footing), it is an AMAZING ride! However, if the horse that gaited beautifully when you test rode it loses its gait after you ride for 6 months (and for some, far less)...the problem is NOT the horse, NOR it's breeding, and likely is NOT its earlier training!

                        Sorry...but as someone who has spent years training horses for different disciplines and taking back horses that develop "training issues" that are actually rider/tack issues...


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by cutter99 View Post
                          . . .

                          It is true with every discipline! If you have enough money, you do not have to be talented!
                          Well, I can't see showjumping without some talent, or you'd be off at the first fence, but endurance is just a long trail ride right?

                          I don't think you can be a rank beginner and buy a horse that will save you in some disciplines, but lack of talent can be made up for by the "made" horse. I'll agree.
                          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                          Incredible Invisible


                          • #14
                            I've seen "packer" horses haul inept riders around lower-level eventing, so I guess with the right horse anything can be done.
                            But man, can you imagine how badly your butt and legs (and probably everything else) would hurt if you tried to do a 100-miler on a horse someone else prepped for you?


                            • #15
                              get over yourselves.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
                                Well, I can't see showjumping without some talent, or you'd be off at the first fence, but endurance is just a long trail ride right?
                                um, no. I'm not going to write a novel here, but I've learned more about tack, nutrition, equine health and metabolics, balanced riding, and truly listening to my horse in 3 years of endurance than I did in over a decade of eventing.
                                RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by candyappy View Post
                                  This is not uncommon when showing in many disciplines. Why should endurance be any different? People can afford to pay for a trained mount, then pay for (a trainer or whoever) someone else ride it and hop on when the " big day" arrives.
                                  Agreed. Some are people who don't want to "put in the time", while others are busy professionals who want to shortcut to the more interesting riding by throwing money at the sport. It's not at all uncommon in lower level polo for the patron to only ride in matches, and with little riding instruction or prior experience. And, heck, I saw some lower level barrel racing a few days ago where probably 1 in 4 riders hit the dirt, and many more would have without a death grip on the saddle. Bless ammie-friendly horses, and their willingness to do their job anyway!

                                  I *am* rather amazed someone would do it for a ride like the Tevis. I've ridden 30 miles several times, and even being used to riding every day was mightly glad to get OFF that darn horse. I can't imagine doing 100 miles without prepping the horse myself. Ouch!


                                  • #18
                                    Any one care to post a link?


                                    • Original Poster


                                      You'll find some pretty crap riding in there. Some is good, some is great, some is on the verge, some is kinda bad, and some is just BAD.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by BigHorseLittleHorse View Post
                                        um, no. I'm not going to write a novel here, but I've learned more about tack, nutrition, equine health and metabolics, balanced riding, and truly listening to my horse in 3 years of endurance than I did in over a decade of eventing.
                                        I guess if I'm trying to be ironic I need to put that little smiley in.
                                        My veterinarian competed in 1971 and somone else I know competed six out of seven years in the mid 80's. Neither of them just tossed a saddle on and decided to ride the Tevis without enormous preparation.

                                        I watched the link and what I saw more than bad riding was tired riding over rough terrain. Lots of walkers in some spots, not just resting their horses I'm sure.
                                        I'm not a "bad" rider but right now 24 hours of riding is not something I could do and stay balanced thruout.
                                        After watching that I'm revising my opinion to say that possibly some riders aren't Olympic fit but they cannot be a weekend warrior and hope to complete that race regardless if the horse is fitted up for them.
                                        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                        Incredible Invisible