Hello. Alison here. In response to a few critiques Liza and I have received recently on our posts, I’ve decided to do an introduction of myself to my followers. I want you guys to know who I am, part of my history, and why I write and post the things I do. Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe not. But here we go.
My name is Alison. I’m a 21 year old senior in college. I’ve been riding for 15 years, mostly jumpers and equitation and mostly on the circuit in and around Atlanta. I rode IHSA on one of the more competitive teams in our region during my early college years until financial issues led me to quit the team in order to focus on my own horse. Early this year, I sold my horse to focus on graduation and applying to graduate school. Throughout my entire riding career, I’ve never had the most money, the fanciest horse, or the opportunities to go ride at the biggest horse shows. But I managed. And I’ve learned a lot.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that as a rider, you have to learn something from every single person you encounter in the horse world. Whether you take away something you’d like to try or something you think should be avoiding, learning is the goal. Isn’t that how we all improve?
Now, with that being said, this blog is my way of discussing my frustration with a trend in the horse show world. The trend of high performance hunter riders doing extravagantly wild motions in order to “help their horse jump better” is frustrating to me. For the reason that, as juniors, we are told to focus on equitation, told that a solid equitation foundation is the key to riding well. And then when we age out of the juniors, or even before, we see hunter professionals winning huge classes and riding amazing horses, all while demonstrating the cardinals sins of riding we are taught to avoid at all costs.
So no. I’ve never ridden high performance hunters. Maybe a rider does have to ride in ways that are opposite to everything I was taught as a junior in order to ride well in these classes. I don’t know. But from an equitation student’s standpoint, the entire thing frustrates me. Which is why I blog about it on the Internet in the first place, seeing as this is a free speech forum and all.
This is also not to say that I think I’m better than any of these riders or that I could teach them anything. They are at the level of riding they are for a reason. I am definitely still a student when it comes to riding, and I probably always will be based on my philosophy of life long learning. This blog is not about me thinking that I’m better than anyone or me thinking that I’m above learning and growing as a rider. Because that would be ridiculous. I have my own bad habits. I’ve ducked to a fence on more than one occasion. I tend to ride in a horrendous chair seat when I’m really out of shape. Sometimes my hands tend to turn and face down. These posts are not about individual riders and their own bad habits. They are about the trends in the hunter world that encourage the bad habits and frustrate me.
So thank you to everyone who has critiqued this blog and the way we write. It gave me a lot of things to think about, including writing this introduction. I hope this post gives you a bit more to think about as well.