And why different one every time you ride?
I’ve asked Felicity George, Founder of my training institute Equine Behaviour Affiliation, if she can answer these questions. Felicity has worked in riding schools as a trainer before she founded the Equine Behaviour Affiliation, here are her answers.
« That’s a good question! Thinking of my times at riding schools as staff, and hearing or being involved in discussions on which rider got which horse, there are, of course, many possible reasons:
- to get rid of the rider is definitely possible
- because the rider tolerates being given these horses and others don’t
- trying to protect these horses, who seem more vulnerable, from the harsher riders
- thinking it benefits the horse in a ‘schooling’ sense
- wanting to show the rider up as not so good, setting them up to fail if you like
- thinking the rider enjoys the challenge
- thinking you risk losing others by giving these horses, but don’t risk losing this rider.
- wanting to prove the rider’s approach doesn’t work
That’s a few that come to mind.
I did feel there was a huge lack of regard / respect for the riders in these cases, generally. Just a « we don’t care if they have a bad time » or even « we’d enjoy seeing them struggle ».
Even where the horse / rider combination was for a positive reason, recognising that the rider could help or benefit from a ‘difficult’ horse, it would have been better to discuss their needs / wishes and reasons for choices.
I also wonder – if the reasoning was to see the rider fail / get frustrated / accept the need to be harsher to the horse – and it didn’t work as expected: that may have increased negative feelings towards the rider?
Or – if the rider’s work with these horses did improve them, that would cause discomfort, they would need to consider adjusting ideas and approaches more widely, which may have been too challenging.
The riding school industry is not just hard on horses, it’s pretty abusive to people too – staff and clients. »