We horsemen all have secrets. They are usually of two types-personal secrets, such as “I’m afraid to trail ride” or “I don’t really like my horse but can’t bring myself to admit it out loud because I’ve put in thousands of dollars into his purchase and training.”
and, the “Style of Riding” Secrets, where we adhere to our chosen and public style of riding and think the folks who ride ‘the other way’ are stupid.
Some of our secrets are that because we’re embarrassed to admit them, but others are secrets because we’re too well bred to openly disparage or sneer down our noses at the other side of the style fence. (Although there ARE folks who verbally disparage the other style. They aren’t nice.)
These styles are composed of many subtypes. For instance, there’s English, which has such styles as hunter/jumper, dressage, and plain vanilla English riding.
Western has subtypes as well, plain vanilla Western, western equitation, competitive trail, barrel racing, cutting, etc.
For the purposes of this post, I’ll condense them all to two: English and Western. You’re smart enough to understand which sub style I am referring to. The styles all seem to gravitate around the saddle, which makes for confusion when you consider the Australian saddle, an English saddle with a horn, a crupper, and lots of neat D rings to tie stuff to. Gosh, I’m not sure where to stick the Aussies.
So let’s go.
English riding people secrets:
Adding the word ‘dressage’ to anything horse related, from spurs to stallions, automatically increases the price by at least 150%.
We pretend to ‘like our horses a bit hot’, but wish they were as laid back, easy going, and obedient as your typical Quarter Horse.
We sneer at the Western Equitation riders who train their horses to travel with their heads below their withers, but then ignore it when it’s called “roll kur’.
No matter how hard you work at staying in shape or keeping to your diet, you know you’re always going to look fat in riding breeches.
Anal retentive and obsessive/compulsive folks seem to be drawn to dressage.
We wish we could ride our horses in hackamores or bitless bridles.
We know without a doubt that black leather tack is the only thing a horse should wear.
We know how to pronounce ‘breeches’.
We wish the breeches designers would put in a pocket large enough for our keys.
There’s just something too cool about a breed brand on your warmblood’s flank. It’s like a tattoo for horses.
We don’t say it (especially to owners and breeders), but we understand that there’s one breed of horse that is pretty much a shake and bake Warmblood.
Few, if any of us, have memorized what order the letters are in a dressage arena.
It makes no difference how many times we memorize a cross country course layout, we still look at the numbers and the colors at the jumps.
Those of us who love jumping don’t go into three day events because we cannot stand dressage.
Western riding secrets:
Western saddles can be just as expensive as a mid-grade English saddle, but the resale value is nil.
Western tack is not as classy as English.
The Quarter Horse is probably the mellowest breed of horse there is.
Our outfits for show classes make us look sissy, even more so than breeches.
We’re embarrassed to admit that some of our folks LIKE pink tack on horses.
We don’t really understand what a Warmblood IS.
Not all of us like western music, but that’s what is inflicted on you at any show/western venue.
We are grateful that we can take our QH out of the pasture, knock the big chunks off him, saddle him up and ride without having to lunge him for an hour before we dare mount.
A National Show Horse is the crossing of two breeds, Saddlebred and Arabian, combining the worst attributes of both breeds. We’re very glad most folks ride them English.
We love having that horn to grab when our horse gets into a wahoooo! moment.
We love that we can tie all sorts of stuff to our saddle.
We wish we could go back to the old days of 4-H, where the point was to learn horsemanship, and your grade horse and old, but clean blue jeans were accepted in the show ring. Now it’s a high dollar, cut throat competition where the pressure to win is the only reason for showing, one’s horse must be highly bred and registered, and one’s outfit counts for more than one’s ability to manage a horse.
If only western saddles wouldn’t squeak.
When no one is watching, we post.
The one thing we all agree on, but seldom discuss, is:
How in the hell does one ride sidesaddle and WHY does anyone bother?