Jim Henson: Professional Athlete?

Once you start to investigate dressage (Disclaimer: this is not a worthwhile usage of one’s time) it is easy to believe that the rider is doing nothing other than sit on the horse while it dances – the true spirit of the Olympics.

However what you can’t see/I still have trouble believing, is that the rider is controlling the horse with the reins (I assume it works pull to the left for the waltz, right for ballroom)


Quick comparison:

  • A rider holds the reigns and ensures that their stead moves in the way they wish.
  • A puppeteerer holds the string and ensures their puppet moves in the way they wish.

In case you weren’t aware, puppeteering isn’t a sport.

Based on the above accurate description of dressage – Jim Henson is a god.

This man could not only control the movements of his stead/puppets but he also made them talk and sing.

Multi-tasking thy name is Jim.

In fact I would give slightly more respect to dressage if the riders were making their horse sing and talk while prancing around. Of course if I was in charge of this, the first words out of the horse’s mouth would be

“I can’t believe you guys paid to watch this”

You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. Amelia Jones says:

    You’re not just using your reins for dressage; you’re also using your legs! Duh! I don’t think puppeteers need physical stamina to control non-living puppets.
    Here is someone that I would like to quote: “Only the fittest and most skilled horses can perform these well. Dressage is a series of tests, developed long ago to prove the skill, stamina and strength of a horse and rider. A rider must also be skillful enough to guide the horse into each movement with the least amount of noticeable effort. Any experienced rider will tell you, that also requires skill, stamina and strength. Both the horse and rider are impressive athletes. It’s in the Olympics because the committee recognizes that.”
    Please do more research if you’re going to talk about dressage that way. Everybody has their opinions, but some are just ignorant, like yours.

  2. Matt Baker says:

    Yes but why on Earth should a sport that so heavily relies on the performance of an animal be included within the remit of human endeavour?

    Yes for sure it’s hard work controlling an animal in that way – I know for a fact if someone tried to ride me that hard I’d be putting up a significant struggle. Does that mean to say that we should reward that work? I’m thinking probably not. I would suggest a stint in a sex offenders clinic is wholly more appropriate.

    The Olympic committee is in all honesty likely swayed by the significant amount of money stuffed up their arses by the by the over educated buck toothed toffs that participate in this privileged and exclusive non-‘sport’.

    Everybody has their views, but some are just wrong – like yours.

  3. Montague says:

    I’m so ra I trained my cat to dance as well.


    All it took was a cane and a week of systematic torture. The results, I think you will agree, are more than worth it.

  4. DressageQueen says:

    Do you know how many hours of sleep I’ve sacrificed for my sport, or how much my grades have suffered as a result? And, believe it or not, most people who dislike dressage dislike it because it is “too hard.” Perhaps you are one of these people? But the point of the matter is, I have poured my heart and soul into my riding. It is my life, and hopefully my future. And for somebody to say that it is easy? It is so, so offensive and wrong.

    Because there seem to be so few people who know anything about dressage, I’m going to explain it to you closed-minded idiots. But first, l have to say that it took me months of working only on my position to be able to “sit there looking like a prat.”

    Okay, so first of all, we don’t abuse our horses. As one of my favorite books explains, “when we are riding, our horse is a ‘willing slave.’ He does everything we want, nt because we force him, but because he wants to please us. In return, when we hop out of the saddle, we become willing slaves, meeting all of the horses needs.”

    Next on the list. We don’t just sit there. Teaching a horse piaffe is nothing like teaching a dog to roll over. It’s not just a simple trick for the horse, it is something that takes years to teach. And yes, it does require strength. Do you think I got abs sitting at a desk all day? Imagine twerking for an hour. Vulgar as it is, that’s the best comparison I can give for the amount of strength it takes to control a 1400 lb animal with only your seat.

    Which brings me to another point. Did you know that dressage riders use more individual muscles than any other Olympic sport? Whatever advantage they have in brawn, we make up for in control and finesse. Believe it or not, there is a lot that goes on beneath the surface of dressage. Unlike the fine art of trail riding, dressage uses the reins (two pair, not one) primarily for suppling the horse and maintaining a connection with the horses mouth (I’m not even going to get into that) the legs are used for asking for more power and bending the horse. The rest comes from the riders seat.

    How to look like a prat. Horses can feel something as light as a fly on their skin – in fact, they have muscles on their skin that they use to dislodge flies. So that means that the horse has no problem feeling nearly imperceptible shifts in the riders weight. That’s why we try our bes to sit straight, why we try to move our bodies as little as possible. For a while, I used to have trouble turning my horse in a circle. Simple as it sounds, circles can be really nasty when there is something wrong with the ride. My horse kept running out of the circle. Turns out, I wasn’t looking far enough to the inside, and my horse could feel the shift in my weight and thought I was asking him to change direction. So that’s why we look like prats. Because dressage requires perfection not only of the horse, but of the rider.

    There is a lot more I could talk about. How, in order to get horses to prance, we have to use our seats to ask them to shift their weight from their shoulders to their hainches, which ends up freeing their shoulders and allowing for more expressive movements. I could talk about how much core strength it’s takes to do something as simple as sit the trot, let alone ask a horse to change it’s entire way of moving. But instead, I’m going to tell you that there is a very important reason that riders only wear white gloves to competition. It’s because the mark of a good rider is absolutely still hands. When the gloves are black, the hands blend in too much with the rest of the outfit. White hands stand out more, therefore making it easier for the judges to grade the rider on their performance.

    I feel that it is important to tell you that you are making a fool of yourself. If you wish to say something negative about a sport, the least you could do is educate yourself. There are literally hundreds of books on horses. If you were to read just one, I’m sure you would come away with a completely different view of dressage. And really, you need to stop offending people. There’s a reason you have no friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *