For most of my life, I’ve ridden english. When I was very young and just beginning to take lessons and learn to ride, I rode my Shetland pony Daisy in a tiny western saddle. My pony came with that saddle, and I think my parents thought it would be easier for a 4 year old child to stay on with a deeper-seated saddle and that horn. There’s photographic evidence somewhere of 12 year old Stephanie dressed and ready to go in the local Bridle & Saddle Club’s western pleasure class, bandanna and all. But for the majority of my life, I have ridden english. I ride in an english saddle on trail rides, when I’m schooling a therapy horse at work, and when I’m tootling around the arena for fun. I’ve even attempted a barrel race at a fun show on Moe in my jumping saddle.
Although I’ve never been a western rider, I’ve never felt that western riders were somehow beneath me. Sure, I’ve thought that riding in western pleasure classes would be boring. Or that trying to gallop in a western saddle seems counter-intuitive. But I’ve never thought that people who choose to ride western are bad or less capable than their english counterparts. There are good and bad riders in every equestrian sport, right?
Unfortunately, two new employees at work don’t seem to share the same views. Both are rodeo competitors- one a barrel racer and one a roper. Both have the attitude that english riders are somehow less capable because we don’t chase livestock around and wear silly jackets. I’ve been on the receiving end of comments like “Dressage? That horse dancing stuff? That’s about the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen” and “The only good horse is one that works cattle” and derogatory remarks regarding the ability of english riders.
While Oklahoma is certainly cowboy country and horses are still an integral part of ranch life and culture, I am totally bewildered by the lack of respect for equestrians in different disciplines. I never tell these two, “Yeah, your horse must be so good at working cattle because he LOOKS just like a cow” or “If you didn’t have that horn on your saddle you wouldn’t stay on” even though I’m tempted to. I bite my tongue to keep the peace at my workplace, but it makes my blood boil to be treated with such contempt.
Have y’all ever encountered rude riders?