Modern Pentathlon: What Did I Just Watch?

Perhaps its because I rode in the IHSA during college, and have witnessed similar “oh crap” moments when riders pull ‘that horse’ whose description reads something to the tune of “hold on and Jesus take the reins”, but after watching a clip sent to me by a friend of the 2012 riding portion for the Modern Pentathlon…I am genuinely curious to know why the riding is that horrifically bad.

Um….What…The….Shit? Image courtesy of VC Star.

If you are offended by pictures of terrible riding and some foul language….yea just keep reading anyway.


And here, demonstrating Couch-Potato seat is Gold Medalist David Svoboda, of the Czech Republic. Image courtesy of New York Times Syndicate

Perhaps it is due to the fact that these competitors must also shoot, fence, run, swim, and do so marathon-style….but what I find precariously odd is that the swim times don’t appear to be that fast, the jumps aren’t that high, and the distance running really isn’t that far. Though I get that the whole idea behind ‘catch riding’ or ‘luck of the draw’ is that to ensure fairness to all competitors, I have to wonder if some rule should be put into place that also grants the horses the same fairness. In not one, but several rides, the riders utilized what I like to call the “Oh Shit Brakes” or the “yanky yanky seesaw hands” manuever.

When you apply the “Oh Shit Brakes” your horse gives you the “Where The Hell Did You Learn To Ride” face. Image courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Riders with competent  (or at least non-total-shit) skills would know to utilize other aids such as the seat, voice, and body weight efficiently and effectively….well hell anything other than water-ski stance and spastic hands to accurately control their assigned animals. Non-abuse is supposed to be a core tenet of riding…but here apparently ‘get horse over jump’ is the only real rule in play. In the IHSA you sometimes see the “Oh Shit Brakes” applied, or the occasional “clusterfuck hipthrust” applied in times of desperation…but not at every fence. Another thing you rarely see is repeated refusals, 6-7 rails falling on the average ride, and horses flinging their heads wildly into the air (as though there is a mass martingale shortage in the Modern Pentathlon’s stables).

I mean, I’d have a witty caption, but this image is worth a thousand ‘WTFs’. Image courtesy of

However, for reasons unknown, more horses than is normal bunny-hop over what appear to be 3’ish (plus some) fences with their heads high in the heavens, perhaps praying the ride will end soon. In one instance, a horse bailed entirely before the ride had even begun.

Whatever the reason, I would just hope that future Pent riders put more time into their horsemanship skills….and the Pent stables invest in martingales.

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