PATRICIA SMITH: An Acronym For Equestrian Courtesy
From time to time, I hear from horse people who have had a bad experience out riding or driving involving other riders or drivers who seem to be unaware of the unwritten rules governing courteous (and safe) horsemanship.
So I think it's a good time to dig out an acronym I made up last year while I was at a Dressage show. Most Dressage riders and drivers are familiar with the acronym: "All King Edward's Horses Can Make Big Fences." It's a way of remembering the sequence of Dressage letters around a Dressage arena.
Here is the acronym I came up with: "Adults (and) Kids Exhibiting Horsemanship, Consideration (and) Manners Finish Best."
Maybe we can make the new acronym our mantra as we're heading into "the season." There are a considerable number of people riding and driving in the Walthour-Moss Foundation as horse country continues to grow. Though certainly you can apply the acronym to anywhere horses and riders congregate including horse shows.
Let's cover riding on private property first. When riding through someone else's farm, it is courteous to walk. Hint: If the horses in the paddocks are flying around at a gallop, chances are you should stop trotting or cantering.
Carriage Drivers: Upon seeing a rider and horse, it is courteous to stop and ask if they are OK with you proceeding. Hint: If the horse's eyes are bugging out of its head and he is backing up, chances are it is a horse that has never seen a carriage before. The rider will usually say, "go ahead" or "let me get off the trail." Riders, (and I've had this happen to me) don't take 20 minutes to decide what your plan of action is while my horse is standing waiting for you to make up your mind.
Riders out for a gallop: Upon coming up on another rider, it is courteous to slow to a walk. It is considerate to ask whether it is OK to pass at a trot or canter. Hint: The other rider could be on a green horse taking its first few strolls out in the woods. Someday you may be on a green (inexperienced) horse and you will appreciate the consideration.
Cars approaching horses on a road: Slow down! If you want to drive 90 miles per hour, go to Germany and drive on the autobahn. Horses can spook and be in the middle of the road in less time than it takes to say "idiot."
Horsemanship isn't just about how good a rider you are. It's about everything that goes along with being a horseman the care you give your horses, the manners you exhibit when on a horse and the safety practices you follow.
It's not always about the blue ribbon -- that is just icing on the cake.
Repeat after me, "Adults (and) Kids Exhibiting Horsemanship, Consideration (and) Manners Finish Best."
Contact Patricia Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
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