Tag Archives: Horse Racing

How to Explain Horseback Riding to Anyone

We all have friends, and friends are awesome.

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Some of our friends are horse people, and totally get what we are talking about all the time. For instance, you can say your horse “was a little up today, but only bucked a few times and was otherwise fine” and these horsey friends will nod in understanding..because that’s not jargon to them.

But we also have non-horsey friends…and to them that is pretty much a foreign language. Your non-horse friends are also awesome, but sometimes they try to ‘get hip with your lingo’ and stumble…and sometimes they just stare blankly and pray you talk about boys, or ice cream, or the latest episode of The Bachelor so they won’t have to listen to you talk about your horse again. And this can be tricky to manage, but here are some things you might hear, and how to address them nicely:

  1. “How was your race?” – Because mainstream media touts racing as the ‘horse sport’ of choice, this tends to cause many people to wrongfully assume that all riders are racers (kind of like how everyone assumes that anyone who lives in Texas must be a Country music fan). It’s ok to correct them a few times, but be nice. As a hobbyist group, we tend to not realize how defensive we are about our beloved sport…and can come off as jerks. So don’t be a jerk. If your friend feels the need to always ask ‘how fast’ you went, or if you raced anyone today…just smile and re-explain that your discipline has nothing to do with going fast (unless you actually do race horses, or are a jumper).
  2. “But doesn’t your horse do all the work?” – Don’t flip out, this is a common misconception. Because most actions that involve sitting are commonly misconstrued as ‘easy’, horseback riding is an easy target. For the same reason that Nascar is belittled for just being about going fast and turning left (see Talladega Nights), many people assume that things you do whilst sitting on your butt require little to no effort. Just calmly explain that what you do is a challenging physical activity, and that no, riding a horse is not like driving a car. If you still have difficulty letting this concept sink in, find a good ‘thrills and spills’ video on Youtube, and try having them watch that.
  3. “You horse is brown, so it’s a clydesdale, right?” – This one probably will only happen once, as once you’ve established that not all brown horses pull beer carts you should be good to go. Because Budweiser uses clydesdale horses in their ads, its only natural that most people assume horses that are big and brown must be clydesdales (your average person might have caught wind of the Romney horse and be aware that warmbloods exist, but it isn’t likely). If you ride a warmblood, feel free to explain what that means…and if you have a thoroughbred, be prepared for a renewed believe that you race and go fast. See 1. again.

For the most part, these are the only 3 annoyances you will probably experience. The exception to any of these, is the person that firmly swears by what they find in a Google search or from ‘sources’ like Yahoo answers and comments in YouTube videos. In the case of these, just don’t bother trying to explain to them that:

  • Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron is just a movie, and your horse is fine with being ridden
  • The Parelli method is not the only effective method out there
  • No, they cannot ride your horse without permission
  • Yes, even if they have been taking notes from old western movies
  • No, rearing and kicking out is the opposite of what should happen (those were stunt horses)
  • No, you cannot ride your horse on the highway
  • Yes, you are sure you cannot ride your horse on the highway, its illegal

Hopefully this helps!

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Omak vs. Redstone: Am I Being Too Sensitive?

As an equestrian, I have to wonder what kind of horse sports ESPN is supporting with their recent choice to profile the Chilcotin Nation’s downhill race. In the wake of plenty of other horse sports shunned by the Humane Society of the United States, America’s ‘Suicide Race’ phenomenon is among one of many that are quite unsavory to watch. It seems the ESPN loves writing about speed, speed, and speed when it comes to horse sports, but doesn’t seem to care much for tactical merit and adrenaline rush of show jumping or cross-country (I genuinely understand that dressage would be too slow). In a recent article, the tagline reads, “Mountain racing riders only know one way to go: all out” but what exactly is meant by “all out”?

Although not as steep as the famed (and feared) Omak suicide races, the horses are still galloped top-speed down rocky hills that are awe-inspiringly steep and quite precarious. The race, exactly like the Omak suicide race, involves galloping in and out of a body of water, and a lot flat gallop home over even terrain. So is this race comparable? Unlike the Omak, this race is only run with 4 horses (the Omaha is run with more than 10). Additionally, the inclined running space is remains the same width and incline for the entire ‘mountain’ portion of the race. I’m not actually sure how deep the water is where the Redstone Stampede mountain race is run, so I cannot speak to that, however there is no “chute” that racers must funnel through and the race is only held once a year (rather than 3 nights in a row). You’ve seen the Redstone stampede, now here is what the Omaha suicide race looks like:

So I guess what I’m wondering it, is ESPN unknowingly promoting an inhumane sport? Or are the two races distinctly different enough that I’m just being too sensitive?

Let me know in a comment!

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‘I’ll Have Another’ Upset Please

In yesterday’s Kentucky Derby, racing fans watched as the favorites to win, Bob Baffert’s Bodemeister and Michael Matz’s Union Rags struggled to make an impression on the field. Leading the pack in the last big push for the win, Ill Have Another, an extremely long shot nosed ahead for a stellar finish. Ill Have Another is the first horse to win from post 19 at the Kentucky Derby,often referred to as the ominous  ‘long long shot’ spot racing.

Image courtesy of the LA Times.

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