Category Archives: Marleen’s Blog

Sociology and Horse Disciplines

A degree in Sociology and the rainy day at the barn
It all started with a new barn raincoat that didn’t quite fit. The coat had been special ordered and was not returnable. So I thought, ‘give it to a horse friend’, as we are the ones always out in inclement weather, tending to our equines. Since retiring from horse show videography, my nearest friends of the horsey persuasion are local dressage riders. Huh. The coat sure wouldn’t work there because dressage women tend to be pretty tall and stout. Then I thought of several of my cow horse friends who might fit this new raincoat, ‘cause they are usually smaller and athletically built. Huh again.
That got me thinking about various horse disciplines and the type of riders they attract. Here are some random observations about equestrians, see what you think?

Cutting must attract pretty long-legged folks, as you often see riders with their feet nearly dragging the ground. They engage in magical thinking, bovine voodoo, and are big believers in cosmic luck in the cutting pen. You’ll often find them standing around in large packs intently staring down a herd of cattle to find kindred spirits. Footwear preference: something in ostrich.

Reiners: Someone should really tell them it is not REIGNER. In my experience reiners tend toward the obsessive-compulsive end of the spectrum. They thrive on repetition, predictability, very calmly throwing dirt. Living well and having control are greatly valued commodities in their universe. Quite a few easy keepers frequent their events. They are usually shod in Italian leather.

Gaited horse enthusiasts I’ve met are engaging people with a real knack for personal style, color and flair. Being a bit high strung, and naturally glamourous must be a requirement for this sport? When you hear the announcer cry “Show Your Horses!” it’s pretty damn electric. They have the best stall parties I’ve seen out there, hands down. (Shows sometimes are delayed the next morning while the night before gets sorted out.) In their closets: Gucci and Jimmy Choo footwear.

Hunter riders thrive on “Cool.” Effortlessly jumping one fence after the next, not breaking a sweat, or mussing up your white stock tie are cornerstones of the sport. Their horses gleam with the perfection of good grooming, have nice table manners, and excellent genes as do their people. Ferragamos can be found tucked under the bed.

Dressage people tend to be tenacious and overly disciplined and (yes I’ll admit it) pretty stubborn. They will devote hours to perfecting one tiny thing. They often are educated riders and find it important to analyze their horses, riding instructor and footing rather than just react to things in the moment. There is always homework from any horse experience. Footwear of choice: Clogs. An alarming percentage of the world supply of Dankso clogs belong to the dressage population

Cow horse competitors seem to be the warrior-princesses of the equine world. They thrive on overcoming difficulties, ornery livestock and tough working conditions. You don’t often see them worry about the little things like appearances, status, fitting in or trying to be just like everybody else. And they do love a challenge! This adaptability causes them to be very good sports, and highly motivated riders. You often find more high spirits at a cow horse event than just about anywhere else! Shoe-wear preference: name brand athletic trainers.