Because I like to stir the pot and express my opinions about things, I would like to propose a (mature) debate/conversation about rider position over fencing.
Before we begin, for your winter boredom pleasure, read THIS post about how rider positioning affects the biomechanics of jumping that Dom posted on his FB, if you feel so inclined to do so. His beautiful self is featured in the blogpost, but I also found the information riveting, curious and thought provoking (adult words, yay!). A few of Denny's photos are also featured in the post, so there's a good one-two punch if you worship both men like I do.
Have we all caught up?
First off, if you're a Hunter and can't take the heat, I would exit immediately, because half of my post revolves around the riding techniques and practices I currently see in the Hunter show ring & you might not like what I have to say.
It is no secret that I *almost* despise the Hunter ring. No offense meant towards any of my lovely Hunter blogging friends, truly, I'm sure you all have your reasons for being part of the sport and that OK by me! Hunters just aren't my thing. And yes I've tried it, up to the B levels, and absolutely none of it was fun. From my experiences and my experiences alone, people were hateful, rude and full of spite. NEVER did I get a well wish for any round and half the time parental units would try and sabotage myself in the ring. WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DO THAT TO LITTLE KIDS. In addition, competitors would do everything they could to best you in the ring. Cut you off, crowd you, block you etc etc. It was heartbreaking as a child to have people treat you in such a manner when shows were supposed to be fun. Competitive sure, but also fun. Never once was fun. Luckily, I was pretty good at it and Spirit had the knees of a champ so we did win quite often, which softened the blow of poor sportsmanship around me.
Not one time has an eventer been mean spirited towards me or rude. Ever. Just sayin'
I also REALLY dislike the hunter look in general. Literally, everyone looks the same (Yes, I realize the same thing could be said for dressage, but at least in XC you can bedazzle yourself if you want and in the ring youre at least ALONE!) and in a ring full of horses its REALLY hard to stand out. Every. single. horse I see looks like they hate their life, poll below the vertical, or broken at the 3rd and a big fat fake tail. Just a few examples....
What I really came here to discuss is my absolute BIGGEST pet peeve in the entire horse world. And that has to be judges pinning bad/incorrect riding.
Who determines such as "incorrect or correct" though?
I *like* to think that old timers generally have the right idea about things (enter Denny Emerson) and new age riding has REALLY gone downhill. I know I'm not alone either. Just today I saw a huge thread on FB about the decline in Arabian showing integrity and how depressing it is with the steep downhill fall horsemanship has taken lately. Dressage too. All I see nowadays is people complaining about rollkur and false contact, yet ALL I see is people riding with false contact and judges rewarding them with flawless scores! Its mind boggling! Don't even get me started on western pleasure and peanut rolling, dead tailed horses. Not picking on any one sport here either; I recently posted about the ridiculousness of eventing safety and the turn MY sport is taking too.
Getting back on point.
The article outright called out hunters (and some jumpers) in the very first paragraph noting that the most common form over fences is to throw oneself up the neck so as to get out of the way of the horses mouth.
Personally I find this incorrect.
The blogpost I referenced supports my way of thinking.
When I was a hunter, I was TAUGHT to throw myself up, jam my heels down, arch my back and push my hands as far forward as I could. It was called "the snap". It used to look like this...
However, no one told/showed/understood (me) how this affected the horse over fences. Also, no one taught me the correct way to ride your horse. I was taught the "yank & crank" method. Bad bad bad.
So I grew up thinking this was how you rode. And this is how many many people still ride. So thankful I switched disciplines. Changing your way of riding is hard and takes years and a ton of work. Ask me how I know.
Not getting into "yank and crank" today, but I would like to discuss positioning over fences and the "winning" way vs the "correct" way.
Not naming names here, but today on COTH I watched 2 videos of Thewinning rides at The Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular. HERE is the link if you're curious (I recommend watching).
DISCLAIMER. I am in NO way bashing the young lady as a person, or even her skill. Just speculating on the JUDGING of these classes. Also, all photos taken from google stock images using "hunter eq". (trying to adult here and cover my bases in case anyone gets a little overly sensitive about things)
Her horse looked asleep (apparently preferred?), she was getting tossed out of her saddle on every landing and her jumping ahead was very consistent. Just the facts there.
HOW is this winning?
Seriously, hunters, enlighten me? What in the hunter world do you strive for in a winning round these days? Was this a class not based on EQ and merely the horses' form? (If that was the case...theres a lot to be desired in that horse, for me at least.) I actually don't know if the Hunter Spectacular had to do with EQ or not.
On the other side of this, HOW is this considering winning riding in EQUITATION? WHY are judges rewarding this?
|A winning round|
Seriously, just read the damn Blogpost. Much better at forming coherent, smart sounding sentences than I.
That being said, I do not consider myself an expert by any means. Not even close. But that doesn't mean I can't strive for perfection and perfection to me is riding that is not only effective but also looks beautiful.
So what do you guys think? Who and what determines what is correct and what isn't? Is it science and biomechanics or is it judges and what they're looking for in a winning ride? Who sets the standards? What are your opinions/experiences?
It was pointed out that the differences across the realm of hunters can't quite be compared in this post because breed shows are wholly different from eq or even the COTH video show. That being said, even though I used stock photos, I've seen that "look" everywhere, not just breed shows. I tried to pick a variety of photos, not just your typical QHs.Sure the QHs are different from others but the general low head, on the forehand way of going seems to be a trend across all boards. Especially when I showed. From 4H to B shows, I saw this look being emulated. That being said, I havent shown hunters or been "in the scene" for years so take that with a grain of salt.
In addition, the entire post was more about the effectiveness of rider positioning in jumping even though I discussed my dislike of the hunter look briefly. All across the board, jumping ahead seems to be the standard practice and even accepted. Especially if it's not an eq class as one commenter mentioned. That's insane to me! Wouldn't we all want to ride effectively and out of the horses' way?
Just my opinion.