Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Razzies of Riding!

OK, I've meant to do this blog post for a long time!

How often do you see horseback riding on television or in the movies that just makes you cringe and even change the channel? It happens to me all the time, and it sticks in my head so strongly that I still remember the offenders years later.

Rachel Ward in "The Thorn Birds." For god's sake, take some lessons or get a stand-in. That poor horse's kidneys. Richard Chamberlain, OTOH, seemed to know what he was doing. He must have horses or at least ride IRL.

Those god-awful maxi pad commercials with the model galloping down the beach
slamming repeatedly on the horse's back. I remember an interview with Mary Crosby (Kristin on "Dallas") where she referenced these commercials and shared her horror at what the poor horses had to go through. I always liked her after that!

Remember the "Young Guns" TV Series? I couldn't even watch the opening credits. Ack! Those poor horses! Bounce, bounce, high hands, elbows everywhere, yank, crank. Horrid!

Lately, we've seen some stellar examples on reality TV. Anybody watching the Real Housewives of NYC? The Countess's kid is a good rider but that Kelly girl? She gets left behind, nails the poor horse in the mouth and then is surprised and disgruntled when it stops and she flies effortlessly over its shoulder. I don't know who her trainer is (we only saw a back view) but you need to take her stirrups away and work on her base of support or she's going to get hurt a lot worse than she is already whining about. I can't find the Hampton Classic video where she goes ass-over-teakettle, but I found another video of her showing off her loose, swinging lower leg. Kelly whines in the episode about how "the horse threw me." OK, seriously, who here says that? We all say we fell off. We know where the blame belongs! Course I'm guessing Kelly is quite the blame-thrower, given that she got arrested this week for beating up her boyfriend. God only knows what she does to that poor horse behind the barn! Gotta say, there was a lot better riding on the RHW of Orange County - there's one little squirt on that show who is just a lovely little rider.

Reality TV also brought us the famous "Paris Hilton falls off a Horse" video. I love this, mostly because on the show, Paris was bragging about how she "rides all the time" and not listening to the guy who owns the horse. And then she screams like a fool when the horse starts bucking. She got exactly what she deserved here. As the owner said "He's a good horse but how would you feel if someone was bouncing on your back?" Exactly. That's why there are riding lessons.

Then there's Katie Price/aka "Jordan." I know there's a huge temptation to laugh hysterically at a huge-boobed glamour model taking up dressage, but from what I can see, Katie's riding doesn't suck. She clearly is working hard and taking it seriously. Do I think she'll make the 2012 Olympics? No, but I think I'd rather be her horse than Kelly Bensimon's. Assuming she didn't dress me up in her line of horsewear.

The thing I can never understand is why, when there's a role that involves riding, they don't simply hire someone who already rides. Hollywood is full of people who are very competent equestrians. Gisele Bundchen rides jumpers. Christie Brinkley has cutting horses. Stefanie Powers plays polo. I hear that, despite the inevitable Star Trek jokes, William Shatner is actually a very good rider. So is Wendie Malick (who gets brownie points from me for being an anti-slaughter activist.) Same thing with Bo Derek - good rider and involved in anti-slaughter. Robert Duvall, William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones and Kelsey Grammar are all accomplished riders. Millions of people ride horses - when you put someone on film sucking at it, someone is going to notice!

So tell me - what television shows and movies have just made you cringe in terms of the riding (or general horse handling)?