Amateur riders. I think sometimes we can get a bit of a bad wrap. In recent media we've been called out for being fearful and to blame for 'dumbing down' the equestrian sport. In fact, it used to be that most horse showing was left to the professional rider with new opportunities for amateur riders.
In the last few decades we've seen the changes of more classes for amateurs, changing divisions, adding lower jumping heigh divisions. Personally, I think that this is positive progress and in turn is good for the industry. There are still divisions just for professionals but those pro riders also get the income opportunities by coaching amateurs of all levels.
While I was on my recent trip to Florida I felt like I got to sit back and watch many of these interactions. I watched rider after rider go into the ring with a handful of encouraging words, some instruction as they cantered past the gate, and a debrief post course to discuss what was done well and what they wanted to keep working on.
Many of the riders were very talented, they sat beautifully on a horse but just simple mistakes were made - a late lead change, seeing a smaller distance than the horse did, or cutting a corner. But when you were watching a class of professionals, it was obvious - the majority of these minor flops were not seen in that ring.
Which brings me to this week's topic I really want to dive into, the Amateur ride. What does that even mean? Those who are riding one horse three or four days a week versus riding four horses six days a week is hard to compare and I think as the amateur we can be really hard on ourselves about our misses. Which is why it is nice to have a mount that is amateur friendly helps make the most of your time during the few days you do get to the barn during the week.
While I was riding my new friend Kasey in Ocala and hopping over a few tiny fences with him and he gave me just a little sass when I asked for the lead change. Something that if I had more confidence and knew asking him for it better I'm sure would've gone smoother. However Cherie, the trainer, mentioned that when he exhibits behaviors like that she feels like he may not be an amateur ride.
How do I define the amateur ride? A horse that is forgiving, will flirt with your comfort zone not blow through it bucking and rearing, and one that is ready to go out and do the job you are hoping to do. That being said I think there is a fine line between the horse that doesn’t challenge you and the horse the is well, just too much horse.
This amateur is definitely hard on herself. Constantly yearning for more time the saddle and more funds to feed my hobby is the plight of the rider who keeps a full-time job and sometimes a house and family as well. But these are the limits we work in and that is why I think it is so important to find the right amateur ride for the individual rider. I'd love to hear your thoughts below, please share in the comments below!
Meet the Bloggers
Miranda and Julia bringing over 20 years of experience in the horse industry in a wide variety of experiences and disciplines. Here on this equestrian blog we'll share our horse experiences, tips, plus advice on surviving as an adult amateur rider.