good is good

There are like umpteen-gillion different horse sports. Each one has their own set of criteria for what is means to go 'well', and each one to some extent poo-pooing the other disciplines for not going 'correctly'.

As eventers, we cover a few different bases. We cross train so we dip into other disciplines, albeit with no great mastery. I've ridden with a pure dressage riders and pure show jump riders. Its easy to understand the relevancy of dressage and show jumping in our own sport, but we shouldn't stop there. It's silly that the disciplines are so compartmentalized. We can learn something from just about any other horse sport.

Last year, I went to world championship Cutting Horse Competition in Forth Worth. Those horses were incredible. They calmly walked into the arena, did their job that requires extreme precision, focus, strength, and speed, and then, when the job was done, they calmly walked back out of the ring. Those horses had to be fit and strong. They also knew their jobs and they were obviously good at it. Above all that, they liked their job. Horses don't get to championships unless they like their job. Yet as they walked into that arena with 30-ish cows in front of them, they never jigged or chomped at the bit or acted silly. They didn't get distracted by the crowd or the other animals. They simply did their jobs. I wish my horses would walk cool as a cucumber into a ring full of jumps. I wish my horses would come galloping down to a cluster of cross country jumps waiting patiently for me to say where to go rather than spooking off everything like a pinball as if to say "which one? which one? that one? how bout here?". Heck, I would settle for my horse standing outside the start box as they count me down.

And then there are the hunter riders who make it all look so easy. Hunters get a bad wrap sometimes, especially from the eventing crowd. And I'm not talking about the people who can make it happen with drugs, as seems to becoming more and more common these days (eventers aren't exempt from this either). I'm talking about the true horsemen. What hunter was originally intended to do. Loping down to a four foot fence and jumping is effortlessly. Finding a perfect stride to every jump. The low soft head and neck carriage and yet still being light as a feather on the front end. Perfection without doing anything. Equitation that doesn't interfere with the horse but only encourages the horse's good form.

A video went viral not too long ago of a reiner and a dressage rider switching horses and getting it done. I realize this was probably rigged on some level. The western guy probably sat on that dressage horse at some point and vice versus. That's said, sitting on those fancy dressage horses is not easy; they are so sensitive that they have buttons you didn't even know existed. I had the opportunity to ride some horses for Dottie Morkis a few years back and it was no easy feat. To my great embarrassment, I couldn't even get canter on some of them. I kept finding myself passaging or piaffing or doing some poor combination of the two. It was wildly frustrating. I'm sure the same would happen if I ever sat on a fancy reining horse. So the fact that either of those riders could do a semblance of the movements on the other's horse is very impressive.

What I'm saying is good riding is good riding. Good horse people are good horse people. Don't ever think you can't learn something from someone just because they don't ride your discipline.

I'm not a hunter. I don't ride pretty enough and I like going fast and furious. However, you better believe that if George Morris came to Starkville, my butt would be in the saddle.