Which Discipline of Horsemanship Is Superior?

It is inevitable that whenever you get a bunch of professional horsemen (or practitioners of a given discipline of horsemanship) that the conversation eventually devolves to, “which discipline of horsemanship is the superior discipline.” I happened to find myself at a gathering of professionals in the horse training and instruction community the other day in which such a conversation arose.

I uncharacteristically sat back and listened to the conversation and waited until all the various arguments on the topic had been expended.

First, the dressage people and the gaited horse people presented their argument. It essentially boiled down to, “dressage is the superior discipline because it requires absolute refinement.”

The second group to chime in was the forward riding crowd. Their argument was, “well, our discipline is superior because we don’t interfere with the natural locomotion of the horse and we don’t impose any unnatural balance on the horse.”

The third group was the Western crowd. Their argument was, “Well, all you people are too esoteric. Your disciplines don’t have any practical application in the real world.”

I listened to the various arguments (not limited to these specific disciplines) and remained silent until someone asked me, “well, you usually babble one about stuff like this, what discipline of riding do you thing is the superior system of riding?”

I gave my rote response to this question: “It depends upon to what purpose you are riding to. Which discipline is superior depends upon to which purpose you are riding. You ride for a specific purpose and you choose a discipline that meets the utility requirements of the task you wish to accomplish. Each discipline is superior to the other when one considers the specific purpose to which one is riding. Choose the right tool for the job at hand.”

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2 Responses to Which Discipline of Horsemanship Is Superior?

  1. Roger Hanington says:

    While pig can be found on the Kadir,
    And foxes in Stapleton Gorse,
    While sportsmen collect around a fireside,
    And men love the hound and the horse;
    There’s an argument ever confronting
    All those that ride hard and ride fast;
    Is Pigsticking better than Hunting?
    Like Time, to the end it will last!

    A few dozen pig I have ridden,
    And I’ve hunted right up from my birth,
    So I’ll give you my faithful opinion,
    (for what you may think that is worth!)
    I wouldn’t for worlds be dogmatic;
    I’ll just show the light and the shade,
    In a case that can never be static;
    For that’s how opinions are made.

    Just take a nice day about Christmas,
    The jungle is scented and sweet,
    The air though not cold has a crispness
    That bites as I hack to the meet.
    In the first hour I’ve seen six good sounders,
    And ‘nailed’ three boars – fighters big:
    As I note two are three hundred pounders,
    I go nap on hunting the pig.

    But when it’s the end of the season,
    With flies and mosquitoes galore;
    And a heat that takes toll of your reason,
    While every scratch turns to a sore,
    When I’ve hunted for hours with no fortune,
    But crocked my best horse in a well,
    As I hack back to camp o’er the sand dunes;
    I’m for hunting – and Pig-sticking’s ‘Hell’.

    Its the same when I’m back in old England,
    When there’re snow patches left by the thaw;
    And the scent is breast-high on the grassland,
    Then we ‘find’ the first covert we draw.
    As my horse changes feet on a ‘double’
    Then flies ‘cross a brook – deep and big –
    As we lead the ‘First Flight’ o’er the stubble,
    ‘No! – I wouldn’t chuck Foxes for Pig!’

    But soaked to the skin after hunting
    From eleven to four in the rain;
    The weather by no means abating,
    And my horse lame in front with a sprain.
    By his side ‘long the slippery tarmac
    Then a car knocks me down in the lane,
    And I swear that if I ever get back,
    ‘Twill be ‘Hunting? No, NEVER again!’

    So, you see that is how I regard it,
    A good day at either is Best.
    And if some misfortune should mar it,
    Then you feel you should give it a rest.
    But you can’t find the wild boar in Britain,
    And so we will just let it stand,
    That with each in its turn you are bitten,
    For each is the best in ITS LAND!

    So, if fate gives you leisure and horses,
    A country and good hunting-box,
    You’ll never make up for your losses
    If you arn’t out and hunting the Fox.
    But then should your fortune so deem it,
    That Eastwards you go for a tour;
    Take a tip from a fellow whose seen it,
    Get a horse and get after the Boar.

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