Push Button Horses

Push Button Horses

If you’ve been around horse shows much, or even if you haven’t, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the term “Push Button Horse.”  It usually goes something like this.

Two girls watch a nice horse and rider win many classes at a horse show.  Girl 1 says to girl 2, “She’s just winning because she has that expensive push button,” and Girl 2 agrees.

The term means that the (usually expensive) horse is like a robot, and all the rider has to do is push buttons on it to make it do what the rider wants.  If you’re still confused, I made a diagram because I’m cool like that.

Now I firmly believe, although there are exceptions, that any horse can look good if the rider is capable.  See, all horses have buttons and even the most expensive horses in the world won’t do much more than stand there and shit unless the rider can ride them properly.  So every horse has buttons, but if you don’t know how to push the buttons – the horse is useless.

Glad to see we’re all following.

Although I have not ridden Gatsby much, I consider him to be somewhat of a push button horse.  He’s well trained, and even though he’s “hot” (another horse term meaning he likes to go fast and is sensitive) I haven’t had any trouble with him… until tonight.  Looking back, it might not have been the best idea to do a jumping lesson in the dark ring when; A) He hadn’t been ridden in almost a week, B) There was a huge temperature drop today/last night, C) I was trying a new (softer) bit for him, D) See A again, because it’s very important.

When I usually ride Gatsby, I feel like I’ve got the push button diagram we see above.  Tonight, these were my buttons:

I’m not trying to say he’s a bad horse, but I’m trying to say he was a little naughty tonight and reverted back to old habits.  He wanted to buck me off in the canter, and I’m generally a fan of staying on top of the horse – it’s the place to be in this kind of situation.  I’m giving him a hard time since we did improve a lot towards the end of the lesson, but it was a great example of bad button communication.  My trainer hopped on and had no issues with him – go figure.  Going to say this one was entirely bad timing and user error… maybe the buttons will work better tomorrow!

Horse lineart drawing by Chronically equine artist on DeviantArt

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