There seems to be more and more cases of children at competitions
being put under pressure to win and the consequences on the ponies
ignored. If they are competing at very high levels, then obviously
a fair amount of pressure is to be expected but the problem seems
to exist right down the levels, even at local shows.
Added to this, the use of spurs and strong bits are becoming more
common place, especially in jumping classes. Children should be having
fun if they are competing, but often the parents are pressurising
them to win and then shout at them if they feel they didn't try hard
The effect on the ponies is one of confusion and often pain. Being
dug in the ribs with spurs and then hauled in the mouth is hardly
likely to encourage a pony to carry on jumping. Consequently ponies
end up being spoiled and having to go through lengthy processes of
reschooling and regaining trust in the rider.
As for the children, this is not setting them a good example for the
future. They will grow up believing that winning is the most important
thing and the well being of the horse will be ignored.
Not all children behave in this way, and not all parents put pressure
on them to win, but there seems to be a minority who do.
Are you a child who competes regularly and has to deal with this pressure?
Perhaps you see other children who get upset at shows because of the
pressure to win? Are you a parent who puts pressure on your child
to win, perhaps because you can see they have talent? Or maybe you
are a spectator who is fed up with seeing ponies abused at shows.
Come and tell us your experiences and views on the subject, on our
'Riding' discussion board.