“They said that?” – Real-life insults straight from riding instructors

Photo credit: AJ Sharlow



“They said that?” – Real-life insults straight from riding instructors

Ribbons and adrenaline-infused competitions aside, the daily life of your average riding instructor is probably like having that one song on your playlist stuck on replay. Imagine, “Strong legs, give with your hands,” playing over and over in your head and broadcasting out of your mouth.

So, can you blame those rich, overpaid (kidding!) instructors when they get a little salty? I’ll admit it, I’ve been on the receiving end of some pretty creative instructor insults. And I know I’m not alone. In fact, every year, the riders at our barn give our instructor a calendar for Christmas — a soul-crushing compilation of her harshest (and often funny) comments that caption equally devastating and unflattering pictures of us riding. Sadly (and much to our instructor’s glee), we never seem to be short of material.

Here are a few of the memorable quotes (I want it noted for the record that I was not the sole recipient of these barbs, nor are they from a single trainer).

“Your riding sucks” insults
Most instructors go straight for the jugular, which is your riding, because there’s no time for hurt feelings in eventing. After all, you’re paying them to critique your riding, right?

“I’ve never seen someone look so comfortable being so crooked.” Ouch! Yeah, that one hurt, since I had no idea I was crooked. Apparently, I’m also really inflexible since the same instructor told me, “You’re too young to look so stiff.”

At least I don’t, “… look like a monkey humping a basketball.” That was one of my riding companions. Another one was told, “You’re so hunched over your look like a turtle.” Clearly, this instructor is fond of her animal analogies.

Some other favourites include:

  • “You should be able to control the circle you’re riding by now.”
  • “Well, you made a real dog’s breakfast out of that.”
  • “Why do you always freeze and go brain dead every time your horse does something silly?”
  • “You’re weak — physically and mentally weak.” Ah yes, and inevitably your mental competence is up for questioning.

Photo credit: Kym Pocius.


“Are you mentally competent to ride?” insults
If forgotten dressage tests and missed jumps haven’t made you question your own mental fortitude, perhaps your riding instructor will.

I’ll own the next three insults — yep, they were all for me:

  • “That was fine. Now do that combination again, but without all the drama.”
  • “It’s not rocket science. Just keep your ass in the saddle.”
  • “You’re being weak and lazy. Just go warm up your horse.”

Even at competitions — when perhaps you’re at your most vulnerable — your mental faculties can be called into question. Of course, the ultimate mind blower is hidden inside a trick question. You know it — that single, short phrase, whispered into your anxious ear as you nervously approach the ring. “Do you know your course?” Whaaaaa?! Well, I thought I did until you said THAT to me … AS I WALK TO THE RING! Every coach I’ve ever known does this, and it always unnerves me. Every. Single. Time.

A couple of other classic competition insults are:

  • “Don’t embarrass me at this competition.”
  • “You looked like you’d never even ridden a dressage test before.”



“Your horse is a saint” insults
“The problem is not the horse. The problem is the rider.” I think every rider has heard this one in some form or another. As athletes, we riders are programmed to blame ourselves before we criticize our mounts — and probably rightly so.

I do love those quips that remind us how generous our horses are for tolerating our riding.

“We should stop now. Your horse’s sense of humor is running out.” And the sister comment to that, “Yours is a good horse because he can take a joke.”

“Your horse is going well because you’re finally giving him the right aids.”

“You’re ass-riding. That’s why your horse keeps running away after the jumps. He’s thinking, ‘Oh no, here comes that big ass on my back again.’ ” (FYI, I’ve been told “ass-riding” is a legitimate equestrian term)

“If I ride your horse too much. He’ll start thinking, ‘Here comes the idiot,’ every time you approach him.”

Photo credit: AJ Sharlow


“There’s a compliment in there somewhere” insults
And I also love those comments that simultaneously combine an insult and a compliment, because let’s face it, it takes a certain amount of talent to generate them.

“Yeah, you’ve made progress. You used to REALLY suck.”

“It wasn’t a horrible dressage test. It was … pleasant.”

“Getting eliminated is a great mistake. If you’re going to screw up, make it count.”

Now, please don’t think I’m whining or vilifying all those hard-working riding instructors in any way. I know it’s a tough job, and most aren’t getting rich or developing star athletes. And call me a masochist, but I actually enjoy my education seasoned with salty slurs. I also believe that when the occasional sincere compliment is thrown in, it feels like a precious gift. I seriously almost wept when I heard, “You and your horse look very elegant today.” That was eight years ago, and it still makes me smile when I think back to that ride.

So tell me, Eventing Connect readers, which instructor comments — good, bad or ugly — are memorable for you? Email them to us at sable@eventingconnect.today.

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