Please, folks, don’t ride like this…

I don’t usually comment on what I see at horse shows, but I have seen this person before (an adult, not a child–who might actually have an excuse) and every time I see her I want to run out in the ring and rip her off her horse and demand that she explain exactly what it is she thinks she is accomplishing.

I spent the day tending my portrait booth, but through the clubroom window I could see the ring for the stadium jumping portion of the eventing schooling show that was in progress. Thinking it a good opportunity to catch some photos for my ink sketch and watercolor projects, I took myself and my camera outside and was merrily snapping away when this happened…

Let’s torture this poor horse, who is really trying despite a rider who won’t let him use his head (or the rest of himself) to clear the jump. She is also in danger of flying off should he stop or prop.

It doesn’t get any better from the other direction. This horse doesn’t need spurs, but he’s getting a big dose of them anyway. Please don’t ride like this!


I don’t want to sound like a snarky online critic; however, if you don’t have the ability to remain in the saddle without bracing on your horse’s reins to balance yourself, you have no business jumping. It’s just not fair to the horse, who really has no say in the matter.

About Alli Farkas

Equine and landscape artist specializing in rural Americana
This entry was posted in bad riding, horses and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Please, folks, don’t ride like this…

  1. Paula says:

    that horse will be Sainted…. =(


  2. This is awful. The poor horse 😦

    I’ve seen some horrible things at horse shows. The judges and people who run them need to be more proactive about promoting proper horsemanship as well as sportsmanship. I’ve seen both teenagers and adults get extremely catty with each other as well as nearly beat their horses when the horse knocked down a pole even though the rider failed to properly set the horse up for the jump.

    While there are many wonderful people in the horse industry, there are just as many who lack all common sense and are downright cruel to people and animals.


    • Alli Farkas says:

      I’m totally with you on this one. Unfortunately nobody cares how riders ride in eventing except in the dressage phase. There was another rider at this show who totally failed to set her horse up for a triple jump and he refused. She didn’t beat him, but did deliver a mean kick. Eventually he will probably just buck her off rather than accept the unjust punishment. And it will go downhill from there. As Walter Zettl says, “it’s a matter of trust”.


  3. eqjournal says:

    I have looked at these photos several times now and I squirm each time. I am so curious to see how that horse would go with a correct rider.


    • Alli Farkas says:

      I would love to get on him and just let him have his head over the jumps. He is quite scopey, and very athletic. He pulled off these 3′ – 3’6″ jumps in spite of working at a distinct disadvantage. That’s probably why his rider can get away with it. An ordinary horse would be crashing the jumps unless it had enough good sense to refuse or run out. The only hint that he’s having trouble is evident in the top photo, where his front legs are mightily uneven. It’s not quite as obvious in the bottom photo, but you can see if you look carefully that the knee of the right foreleg is quite a bit lower than the left one. If he could use his head, his knees would probably be up to his eyeballs, as George Morris likes to say. In any case, riding a “hanger” like this can be dangerous as the horse is predisposed to catch his legs on the jump.


  4. Rayya says:

    Hey Alli,

    Thanks for tackling this very touchy topic. Negative reinforcement training are old school and we have come along way from then. People need to get with the times and use positive reward training. The worst bit about what you highlighted is that this poor horse was doing the right thing and being penalized for it—so what does that teach him?


  5. tbnranch says:

    Geez, this is called learning to be a better rider. Ease up.


    • Alli Farkas says:

      Learning to be a better rider for this particular lady (who I took great care not to identify) would require going back to little crossrails and practicing a correct position with and without stirrups so that she could maintain her balance without hanging on her horse’s mouth. If she needs to grab mane in order to learn this, that is perfectly acceptable and correct. Grabbing the reins and giving no release to the horse is not acceptable or even humane. It’s one of the cardinal sins of jumping. One can learn to be a better rider without sacrificing the horse. Practicing a long crest release would also be ideal for her to improve her position. I took a stand on this mainly because it’s totally unfair to the horse. However, I also happen to know that this woman is 57 years old and has been riding a long, long time…in other words, she’s had plenty of time to improve. What I don’t know is whether or not she is self-taught. I can’t think of any reputable trainer who would allow their student to ride this way, so maybe she has simply never had anyone to correct her. In any case, the main point is that one should not ride this way, not that the rider is a bad person. The reason I was so annoyed is because I have seen her more than once and have noticed no improvement. What I cannot answer is why this is the case.


  6. anne leueen says:

    Oh my! That is really painfull to see.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.