Why do show hunters, equitation riders and horse show pleasure riders so often lope along in that “dead zone” canter?

Part of the answer must be that the slower, more sluggish the canter/lope, and the less impulsion that the horse creates, the less “threatening” the gait must feel to those who are afraid of speed and energy.

That`s why kids need to be turned loose on ponies, preferably bareback, when they are young, supple and gutsy, so they don`t grow up with so much damn, paralyzing FEAR.

Horses gallop, and any rider who even pretends to think of himself/herself as a “good rider” ought to be able to gallop with balance and self assurance.

I don`t “get” any equitation class that doesn`t ask to see “the whole rider.” “Equitation” ought to mean the ability to ride the whole horse, not some attenuated, restricted version.

If I were designing equitation classes that actually MEANT anything, those kids would get stretched, not coddled in some damn little fenced arena, so their little anxieties can be assuaged.

Want to be a rider? Go do it all, not some safe little drug or strong bit or enclosed arena or all of the above induced fake versions of what horses can do.

Seriously, learn to ride, kids, if you want to be “equitation champions”, where that term means anything. That will include fast galloping, sitting the gaits without bouncing, as well as jumping anything out there that horses can handle.

—  Denny Emerson