“We’ve always done it this way!”

The world is constantly changing – of course, this does not stop at the equestrian sport in its many aspects. Tradition doesn’t always seem to be the right way, so things have changed over the years. Some things are for the better, others probably should have been left absent in the box of ideas and not necessarily put into practice.

Sometimes you feel like some in the scene have a really hard time accepting other opinions. It’s so nice when you can learn something from the other person. I especially notice it when you talk to horses who have been familiar with the sport for several decades. Not everything fits today’s standards – but that doesn’t mean everything is automatically bad. It’s different, but not bad.

Tradition or modernity when it comes to nutrition?

It’s great what we’ve done on the subject of food is a huge step forward. Horses don’t gain just one or two kilograms anymore

Photo: unsplash.com/Jozsef Koller

Of course, as long as you are not harming the horse, you can feed it whatever you want. However, there is definitely a happy medium somewhere: the ideal case is the best of both worlds. Adequate nutrition that makes use of additives when needed, but focuses on the essentials.

And in sports?

There are also some innovations related to this sport. Some of the roads today are significantly longer, the obstacles are higher and the requirements in general have increased significantly.

Sporting horses are also becoming more and more athletic and can perform better, but the question quickly arises: when is that enough? Is it really important for exams to become more demanding?

From a sporting point of view, there are also many very good innovations, for example with regard to safety in showjumping or in event racing. There are now new requirements that make it easy to get rid of poles or convert fixed obstacles on an off-road track into moving ones.

Tradition or modernity in horse sport?

And if we stay with the theme of horse sports, a lot has changed here too! In the past, equids were stronger and more durable and often had larger feet and stronger joints. Nowadays, the modern sporting horse looks rather slender and long-legged, and appearance plays a very important role in addition to skills, and therefore the breed has also adapted to some extent.

brown horse in competition
Photo: unsplash.com/Philippe Oursel

Color breeds are being encouraged more and more. Although they’ve always been around, like the spotted Trakehner, which can look back on fascinating history, there are also some pretty creepy innovations in places.

Embryos that can be used to determine the sex of a horse eg. This is a massive intrusion into nature and with all the understanding of the desire for the horse breeding economy, wouldn’t it be surprising that breeding makes? Can’t you pre-define everything?

And what about the position?

In terms of attitude, we have developed very positively. Three decades ago there was still a fixed position. Meanwhile, the horses are often out in pastures and meadows all day.

More and more active stables and open stables are being built: the cliché of a muddy open stable without riding facilities is now partly outdated. The desire for a suitable breeding of the species is growing. The majority of the equine world is slowly beginning to understand the positive impact they have on horses when they are simply allowed to be horses. This has also made it into a first-class sport, where more horses are allowed out.

Two horses eating grass in the meadow
Photo: pexels.com/Mathias Reding

In a few years, our current situation will become obsolete again and there will be innovations to help us. But also some that are sure to send chills down our spines. Then it will be just as important today to learn from the mistakes of the past and fit the positive parts and develop them further.

Because modernity and tradition can work hand in hand if you think outside the box and broaden your horizons by knowing the other.

More on that in the podcast

Want to know which aspects of the equestrian tradition Harriet Jensen still considers important today – and what would you like to get rid of? Then be sure to listen to this episode of Pet Talks: Horse:

You can also listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Deezer.

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