Because without half decent hands, there is no hope in hell of half decent contact. You get to post in training level, so you can do a pretty good job of faking some version of a seat. Even in the canter, you can still hover your ass around on the saddle as usual. If questioned, just make some excuse about the maturation of the young spine, and no one is likely to argue with you, especially if you say it slowly with a sugary smile and a whiff "oh, I am talking to a moron again" condescension - the go-to tone of voice to use whenever you are trying to convince another horse owner that yes, you do know what the hell you are doing. Even when you don't.
But if you are doing any of the typical weird hunter things with your hands and arms, it is kind of a screaming giveaway that you, in fact, don't know what the hell you are doing.
|If dressage lessons were like GolfTech Player Performance Centres|
In the spirit of Jeff Foxworthy, I would like to suggest the following. Please feel free to add in your own.
You might be a hunter rider if:
- Your arms appear to be elbowless sticks
- You have ever punched yourself in the knee while riding
- Your wrists flap like johnny on the spot doors at a fall fair beer tent as you ride
- If you have ever been asked if your horse ever says YES-YES-YES-YES just to shake things up
- If a video of you has been used during a pony club presentation as an example of "person with really long reins and busy hands way in her crotch, who looks like she is pleasuring herself".
- If you have ever been on the "pro" side of a conversation relating to the use of a chambon while riding
- If you have ever uttered the phrase "a pelham is pretty much the same as a double" in a non-mocking context
And so on.
Curmudgeon! Seriously. I have been riding hunters for years. I win the "show hack" class at every Trillium show. People are constantly asking me to get on their horses and frame them up. I think I know what I am doing.
Ahhh yes. The hack division. Perhaps you are a Showy Road hackin machine who puts the Pee in Pleasure. I have been there too. And I thought I knew what I was doing as well.
I know there are many of you out there reading this blog who have no idea what the hack division at a Trillium show is. You lucky ducks. Let me help you to understand.
Once upon a time - people went to hunter/jumper horse shows to actually ride their horses over JUMPS. Big ones. Sounds crazy, doesn't it.
But then, somewhere along the way, someone figured out that there was a rich, untapped population of riders and horses who wanted to go to shows and win stuff... without actually ever having to have learned to ride very well. At all.
And so - a whole world of new classes were created. Low beginner children's hunter. Modified low beginner adult amateur hunter. Modified low beginner crossrail children and relatively immature adult amateur hunter. Etc.
But - even though the managers of horse shows progressively reduced the height of the obstacles, eventually they were left with a rail on the ground between two standards with a few cedar boughs in front and some potted mums on either side. Yet there was still an plethora of people who could not ride their $50,000 import over this obstacle without a coach with a longe whip and lots of clucking.
And thus, the hack division was born. All flat classes, none of the hassle of actually having to leap over anything.
Who are these people who wake up at an ungodly hour to participate in not one, but three flat classes, you may ask? Well, they are a diverse mix of folks. Some are pros riding 3 year olds that don't jump stuff yet. Fair enough.
But many more are people riding horses that actually did jump stuff once upon a time. But then they learned that if you put little Suzie face first through the rails enough times, all of that nonsense comes to an end, and instead you get to hang out in the sun at horse shows after only 15 quick minutes of hacking around, alternating your speed now and then and holding your head and neck in a variety of different positions as prescribed by the amount of sawing on your face that your rider does at any one time.
Curmudgeon! You are on a tangent again. How does this relate to dressage?
Oh Sorry. Well, the problem is - the judge is supposed to be judging you on things that they call "collected trot" and "extended trot" and other terms that sound familiar to the average dressage person - but look alarmingly different. A horse pushed to Mach 5 in the trot until it flings its feet out in front to avoid snapping its fetlocks as it falls forward onto its face is not ACTUALLY doing "extended trot". And slowing your horse to a wessage like crawl is not actually collection. Unless you are in a wessage class (it is so confusing, isn't it?). However, if you are routinely rewarded for these things at the local shows, you may mistakenly get the impression that you are right on track to show 2nd level.
And so, when actual dressage folk recoil in horror when you sit down and start building that frame with a nice saw-saw-saw... well, don't worry. We have all been there. And - STOP IT!! You look like an idiot.
Keep your hands still - give - thumbs up - blah - blah - blah. Hands out in front. GIVE! Give from the elbow. Think of how gorgeous Charlotte's hands look! (no, seriously...you don't look anything like her. Don't be ridiculous. But try). Oh, and while you are at it... shorten your reins. (No, really - do it. I am sure you are not actually pleasuring yourself, but why not remove any doubt).
There. That's better. We can still tell you don't know what the fuck you are doing. But you are at least a little closer....