March 22, 2019
Teaching feel to a rider is hard. Very hard.
Teaching the proper mechanics of position is also hard, but not as hard. And since trainers have to teach you something because “just ride better” frankly doesn’t seem to cut it for most people, it makes sense to start with equitation and hope that somewhere along the line you put the piece together and figure out how to effectively communicate with your horse.
I mean, I get it. But that doesn’t mean that I like it.
And judging by the people who are succeeding at the top level of the sport, this whole position charade might be, well, just that—a charade.
Here are my top 10 reasons why I think I should just ride however the heck I want because it doesn’t seem to be hurting these fine folks.
1. You keep telling me my leg position in the air is crucial but…
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Stuttgart WINNER Pieter Devos (BEL) riding Apart. ©FEI/LEANJO DE KOSTER
2. Short reins you say?
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, the only female rider to have achieved world #1 status to date.
3. Thumbs on top, schmumbs on top.
Scott Brash (GBR),Olympic gold medalist and 2014 Longines Global Champions Tour CHAMPION. ©Stefano Grasso/LGCT
4. If you don’t want me to grip with my knee why do breeches have grippy knee patches?
Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Harley V. Bisschop helping the Belgium team WIN the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final. ©FEI/Jim Hollander
5. Tell me a single thing wrong with chicken wings?
WORLD #9 Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Clooney 51. ©FEI/Massimo Argenziano
6. If Kent Farrington doesn’t need to keep his weight in his heels, then neither do I
Olympic silver medalist and former world #1 Kent Farrington (USA). ©FEI/Richard Juilliart
7. YOU stop rounding YOUR shoulders.
World #3 Daniel Deusser (GER) and Tobago. ©FEI/Arnd Bronkhurst
8. Maybe I should lean up my horse’s neck, ever think about that?
Olympian Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Iron Man Van De Padenborre ©FEI/Eric KNOLL
9. Looking where you’re going always seemed overrated anyway.
Italian Olympian Emanuele Gaudiano and Chalou. ©FEI/Manuel Queimadelos/Oxer Sports
10. About that leg…
Olympic silver medalist Maikel van der Vleuten. @Stefano Grasso/LGCT
Now, when you mention these obviously very valid points, you’re trainer is probably going to counter with something along the lines of, “When you ride a fraction as well and Meredith, Maikel or Kent, you can sit however you like!” But that’s just them being lazy. And/or right.
About the Author
Heather Struthers runs Ontario’s hippest tack shop, Performance Horse & Rider and writes about important issues like dating, pretend boyfriends and Scott Brash.