There were lots of comments going around Instagram about Mary-Kate Olsen competing at WEF (Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL) this past weekend. The focus was on this particular photo from Horse and Style Magazine. Some of them (actually...most of them) were pretty harsh.
I looked for other photos because as we all know, a moment captured does not reflect an entire ride. I found additional photos by photographer Michelle Myers (below) which allow you to see more of her ride. I know it can be easy to make immediate judgments when you're on social media scrolling through your feed, but please remember we are all working on our riding every day. Just because she's a celebrity does not mean it's okay to attack her or her style of riding. The way she's holding the reins is not incorrect, just different. Driving reins are generally used to soften the rider's contact and to stop the rider from locking her arms. Additionally, it helps the rider follow the movement of the horse.
When I posted in defense of Mary-Kate on 20x60, we received a number of comments about the driving reins. A rider mentioned that Olympic showjumper Beezie Madden teaches driving reins as a great tool for riders and has ridden and shown using this technique. In her comment she explained, "it develops a rider's feel and helps teach the automatic release."
I think Mary-Kate looks pretty good and seems to have a great understanding of the driving rein technique. She's out there, she's competing, and enjoying her time in the saddle. Now my only recommendation is a blingy Premiera bridle to complement those rings! 😉