The Idea of Order: Theater of the Absurd?

AKA: When your training program is a load of questionable shenanigans…

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I generally stay out of much in the way of commentary on hot button issues here, but I announced a horse show this last weekend and while I saw some lovely riding, I also saw some real shenanigans.

I think most of us who have ever trained a horse can agree that there are times when it just isn’t pretty; an awkward moment, an overly exuberant youngster, a momentary lapse in judgement (horse OR rider’s), or a random mistake — essentially crap happens.

But if those awkward, ugly moments are making up the majority of your ride, then I think you perhaps need to do a little honest self-reflection. And if you’re consciously producing said moments, you’re probably just a jerk (even if you are a ‘good’ rider). While I’m not a Grand Prix rider (yet!), and I acknowledge that I’m not an expert on training horses to that level, it seems to me that this sort of ‘riding’ is just unnecessary bullshit. Adjusting a horse’s balance and lowering the neck momentarily (with still forward riding!) has a place for sure, but making him play a sadistic form of equine Twister is something else entirely (think not only ineffective, but also cruel). The fact that it continues to slip through and be rewarded (score wise) is a real shame.

Morgane Schmidt is, among many things, an equestrian who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. Author of Life with Horses Is Never Orderly, she knows all about the madness that comes with the equine territory, having owned and competed horses in eventing and dressage for years. A lifelong fan of the classic equestrian cartoons penned by internationally renowned artist Norman Thelwell, she began her own comic series in 2011, sharing deftly funny reflections on life with horses on Horse Nation as well as her personal website. A native Floridian, she spent a decade in Reno, NV, where she was able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless (she has since regained her sense and moved back to the Florida swamp). Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She has completed her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking, her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now beastly 12-year-old Dutch gelding, and Milona DG, a 6 year old KWPN chestnut mare (you can make your own inferences there…). Visit her website at