This really gets me that people will looks at a horse with a hefty bit in its mouth, straps all over it and it will still be bucking and leaping about and go "wow... that's a really good rider!" Surely a good rider would be able to stop these problems? I would say a good rider would be someone who can take a horse like that, re-school it and have it competing quietly and relaxed on a nice loose rein in a simple snaffle bit. Why does that not inspire awe? Why is it the gadgets and the bad behaviour that people admire?
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I think its because it looks exciting and to begin with people ride riding school horses and seek something more adrenaline filled.
My horse right now is four, and he is one of those horses that buck and leap about. Simply because for one he is young, he is of an excited nature, he is also nervous and also a bit scared. Young kids say 'wow' when he rears and bucks mostly because they are taken aback by how massive they are when they are up on their back legs, but to be quite honest its not as easy as getting him to go completely quietly on a loose rein. I've had him since June and I'm still very much at square one when it comes to his 'issues', but I will agree with what people have said about bits, the thought of putting something strong in his mouth mortifies me. He's in a french link and will never have anything stronger.
Even a good rider would not be able to stop a horse jumping about in most circumstances, sometimes you just have to ride it out.
I think people re-schooling and having them going quietly inspires awe to some, for example Woody on a quiet night at the yard goes as if he has been being schooled for years and years, which inspires awe in those that are there and have seen what he is usually like.
But I think the 'bad behaviour' and 'gadgets' are admired and inspire awe because people do not know the backing story to a horse or a rider. Because really no one knows the true backing story to a reason why a horse is doing something. People just assume that the horse is bad so a good rider has been put on it because they must know how to deal with it.
Its the difference between the rider making the horse do the behaviour and the horse needing the kind of rider it has been paired with.