How riding has changed
As someone who rode in the 80s, quit and started up again in 2011, I noticed that a LOT of things have changed/are different now.
For example, in the 80s riding instructors used to preach at us about pinching with the knees. The harder and longer you could pinch, the better. Now riding instructors are advocating for a soft knee, that softly drapes around the horse.
What are some of the changes/differences you have noticed?
I took lessons in the 1970's and was NEVER taught to pinch with the knees, so I didn't teach my students to do that either. What I see is a current dependance upon saddles for form. I was taught that the best riders could ride and jump bareback, and you were considered sub par if you couldn't do that. I don't see any way to stay on a horse during a rough or slide stop or riding over rough terrain if you wrap your legs around him. I believe in long leg, deep seat and grip with your toes forward. Always have.
Also, we used to believe that you rode and spent time with your horse and your input made your horse better.
Today everybody assumes that:
1) they are at fault, instead of "Fluffy" (horse)
2) the equipment doesn't fit and that's why Fluffy bucks, rears or otherwise misbehaves
3) the horse that have just bought has been completely trained.
I guess there is always a lack of balance.
I think the knee pinching thing could be a regional difference, for which I could probably start a separate thread :) I learned to ride in Germany. They made us ride with coasters between our knees and the saddle to test our knee/positon strength.
I first took lessons in 1976. I distinctly remember the instructor telling us to tuck our bums under and sit as stiff as possible to sit the trot. I also remember doing most everything else pitched forward or up off the horses back. Lot's of forward inclined posting and 1/2 seat cantering. I agree things have changed. Seems for the better for the most part.
I rode in the 80's and early 90's. I remember "peanut rolling" was still the "in" thing for western pleasure (I hated it), and lot of western pleasure riders would "bump" their horse which seem to me like you were suddenly yanking a rein. I did WP for only a year or so before switching to HUS so not sure about the "bumpin."
HUS was more "pure" to me then all across he breeds. The horses moved out with light contact and you wanted a nice balanced mount. In the show ring we road as if were going to go over a jump, even in flat class. Nowadays In AQHA and APHA classes I have noticed that the HUS classes are ridden the same as WP so much that they look like a WP horse with Hunter Tack. Even the reins are practically dropped. I think it's a sad sad change. A hunter goes over fences when at "the hunt." You can't go over a fence when you are in a rocking horse WP canter with our nose at our knees!
The shows I participated in back in the day, with the exception of trail and fences, were all just w/t/c classes on the rail. Usually with a halt and reverse. Then you were judged. Now there are a lot of patterns, etc to be judged on instead, although there are still the old style rail classes too.
The way we see our horses has changed. Back then if they didn't stop, you put a harsher bit on them. If they didn't go, you put pointier spurs on. If they acted up, you sent them back to the trainer who usually ran their butt off in a round pen. Now we look for WHY the horse is doing whichever behavior and try to change what is wrong. Supplements, massage, chiro, etc. We never had a chiropractor out for our horse back in the 80's!
I rode from about 88 to 98 and I was also told that pinching with the knees was bad. Auto releases were also considered bad. Another thing that was different was that beyond the very novice level, school horses were supposed to be naughty because that was how you learned to ride any horse. Also, there were no separate "dressage" lessons – we called it flat work and it was considered a normal part of riding.
I took lessons from 1974 through 1987 in Norway. We were taught by ex cavalry officers.
We were taught:
-Soft knee but very snug and steady lower leg. One instructor put money between my lower leg and horse's body. Any bills that were still there after 20 minutes, I could keep.
- Deep seat and solid half-halts. We were certainly taught forward seat and 2-point as well (certainly for jumping), but all flatwork equitation was done with a deep seat and straight back
- We were taught not to rely on the saddle. We were either bareback or were given pancake saddles: flat, slick seats, no knee rolls, no knee blocks. It seems like we were without stirrups half the time, but it probably wasn't quite that much. We were taught seat first and foremost, and that everything else is just garnish and extra tools.
I had to look long and hard to find an instructor for my kids who will put them in pancake saddles and teach them to move with the horse and use their body and seat to ride the horse. Most places seemed very eager to put my kids in deep seats with lots of blocks and rolls so they would feel secure while learning to use their legs and reins instead of their seats (which are unable to move or feel the horse in those saddles).
I would say the biggest change I've seen is the findness for the deep saddles with blocks that put all your body parts right where they're "supposed" to be. I can't stand them. I want to decide for myself where my body needs to be for the riding I'm doing, than you.
And yes, I've been told I'm pig-headed. But I do stay on a horse with or without a saddle.
I'd like to see what these "pancake saddles" looked like lol.
I began in'68. My instructor and Freia's must have known each other lol. I spent more time without stirrups than with, we were yelled at,we were even scared to go sometimes, but boy did we learn a lot. Spurs had to be earned,I remember how proud I was when I was told to put them on, had my toes turned inward the whole lesson, so I wouldn't accidentally spur the horse. We, too, had frying pan saddles lol. Knees tight, yes, sit straight, even the broomstick behind the back, through both elbows. Looking down was met with" what are you searching for,I already found the 5$". That was in Germany.
Coming here I see a lot of, female, riders with butt sticking out..., seated, two point, doesn't matter.... strange... :-)
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