First off, I gotta say, this video (link is posted between photos) made my heart zing. Yes, the old Mort ridin', brush poppin', yee ha Janet of yesteryear's first reaction was, "I want to do that too!"
Then of course, reality set in. Old. Crooked. Shaky. Wrong horses. Wrong Saddle. Wrong country. Oh well.
Look at those cool horses! And the country side! And, and, the mud! Oooh, I want to run in the mud!
You get an idea where this video took me, I haven't used this many exclamation marks since my seventh grade creative writing class.
The riders are the Ballinagore Harriers from Dublin Ireland. I have watched the video a few times now and I think I'll probably watch it some more. I've got to warn you, I am not screaming "horse abuse" Not even a little.
I don't jump my horses--as in, with an eventing saddles over fences--but I jump logs, downed fences, ditches and so on when I'm out and about. I have scrambled up and down wicked hills and gullies that had my horses sliding on their hocks or sent them to their knees. So I can relate to some of this.
This is what I saw. The horses were calm, willing and forward, even the ones that biffed it. I liked their size, how sturdily built they are, and their matter of fact outlook. They were pretty too.
Their attitude seemed pretty much, "La, la la, another jump, yip!"
The refusals didn't start until after the first horse to struggle with the footing. Were the horses watching? Did the horse in trouble yell, "This footing sucks!" to the ones behind him?
The riders were a mixed lot, but one thing they had in common, confidence in the ability of their horses, which tells me they've tested it.
It seemed clear to me the footing became more treacherous with each leap. I would think the riders would see that, but it didn't appear to be so. It also seemed, the better riders jumped first, the more tentative or off balance were in the back. That's where I saw the most bit snatching and martingale leaning. The horses that weren't given their head...all struggled. Horses with an ill timed whack on the butt ... struggled. Horses with wet bags of sand on them instead of a rider...struggled.
Again, this stuff seemed to happen more, the further down the line we went. So I started to wonder, are the greenies, fearful, untalented (or God help em' all three) pushed to the back? If so, I'd be thinking about that. It means the experienced, talented, confident horses and riders get the good dirt. You know, the riders smart enough to say, "I'm not jumping that, it's churned up into a slippy slide and a cesspool." Do they jostle to the front to avoid the wreckage caused by the unwashed masses behind them? Does a rider earn their way out of mud flung in their face through skill and experience?
I have no clue, but would like to know.
I saw horses sliding in mud, but I didn't see a lot of trauma, either mentally or physically, to any of them. Except for some mouth snatching and the death grips, which we see on every dude trail in America. It looked like their might be a few sore riders though.
What do you think? Can anybody who knows more about this than me add their thoughts?