3 Common Myths Perpetuated by Horse Movies

  1. YOU CAN LEARN TO RIDE IN A WEEK.

An actor from Hollywood falls and hits his head, so he’s forced to stay at a ranch in the mountains for a week while he recovers from a concussion (because he can’t fly home).  So he learns how to ride. In that week. With a head injury.

The reality is the person in that movie, the real person, the stunt person, has been riding horses for years. I’m sure it looked liberating and fun as you were sitting on your living room couch in the air conditioning, smelling good, dressed to the nines. But the reality is riding horses is dirty, boiling hot, freezing cold, and everything in between. It’s hard work. It takes years to master.  And you certainly should not be learning how to ride with a head injury, Luke Perry.  In spite of what you may have seen on TV, you’re not going to gallop over the mountains, bringing in the herd, in your first week of riding.  And in this particular movie, the main character actually took the horse out without permission from the owner, in the middle of the night, in the mountains, to bring in the herd. I’d be furious.

  1. YOU CAN TAME THAT WILD STALLION.

It’s ok that he’s a snarling, wild beast, and totally feral. Because you’ve looked him in the eye, and have an unspoken bond, you can get on him bareback (probably in shorts or a dress and barefoot) and ride him. Perhaps you can tame him and ride off in a great race and win against actual racehorses, or use him to stake your claim on free land in the west.

The reality is it takes weeks if not months to start a horse under saddle.  And longer if they are wild. The ones that have been handled since birth are a challenge enough, and certainly won’t let you just jump on and ride off into the untamed land of the west immediately. It takes time and training, and chances are you will fall off at some point. You’d be left in the bushes somewhere in Kansas while the others in the movie claimed their land on…I don’t know…horses that are broke to ride?

  1. YOUR RANDOM PAINT/20 YEAR OLD MORGAN/GRADE PONY WITH 3 LEGS CAN WIN A HORSE RACE WITH A KID JOCKEY

Seriously? It sounds great. You train your backyard horse/wild stallion you just found in the mountains to race, and WIN against the actual racehorse so you have money to save your family farm.  Of course you don’t use trained professionals to train your horse.  A kid with no riding experience (he’s small like a jockey and looked into the horse’s eyes) and his grandpa can do it. And they win. And save the farm. Bareback.

The reality is jockeys have years of riding experience and need a license these days to race.  There are restrictions, and you have to earn your way on to a racetrack.  Even in the “oldy time days” where there weren’t as many restrictions, surely a sanctioned match race would have rules in place about child labor?  And if it they didn’t, as much heart as your paint/20 year old morgan/grade pony with 3 legs might have, and as much love as he has for you because you looked him in the eyes when you tamed him in the mountains while barefoot and wearing shorts, he likely doesn’t have the physical ability to win a race against a horse who is young, athletic, and bred for the job.

So when your social media friends snicker about Eventing, thinking they could do it, just smile.  They probably believe they’ve “galloped” on a horse (because that one time on vacation they did a fast trot on Fluffy the 25-year-old trail horse), and they saw Luke Perry learn to ride in 3 days with a head injury.  They watched a movie about how easy riding is while in the air conditioning, with tan legs and no bruises. You know the truth.

But did you try looking your horse in the eyes? That always works. For real.

3…2…1…have a good ride.

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