I'm relaxing today in my big, comfy chair, and perusing the Internet, when I stumbled across this video on YouTube. I can read just enough French to know the title is, Who Says Equitation Is Not A Sport?
I'm not a jumper or eventer. I've never jumped a horse over anything taller than my own knees (and the first few times I did that, I squeeled). I can tell that these riders look off-balance, their hands and arms are twitching about instead of giving the horse guidance, and most of them pull back on the reins at the worst possible moment (from being off-balance), breaking the horse's forward impulsion.
And yet, despite the technicality of what they're doing wrong, I can see two really important, higher-level errors these riders are making.
One is that many of them look like they do not believe the horse can really take the jump. They don't commit to the thing. You can't gallop down the slope, find yourself staring at a brick wall and think, holy cow, how are we gonna make that? If you don't commit, why should your four-legged partner?
The other thing that stands out is they are not working in tandem with their horse to make the horse successful. Part of this is the technique, their balance, etc. But they lean back when they should be moving forward with the horse. They don't look like a team. The most beautiful riding is when it looks like the horse and rider are one, each giving the other what they need.
I ride trail. The poles are on the ground. Nothing I do could result in my head being slammed into a wall, unless the Fates are unusually unkind and God's holding my lottery ticket that day. And yet, this video showed me, in no uncertain terms, that my horse and I need to be a team, and no matter what the pattern, I need to believe we can do it.