Why Riding Horses Can’t Be a “Dance” Anymore–How PSY’s Spoof in a Stable Changes Everything


PSY's "horse dance" changes how we talk about serious horse training...for real.
PSY’s “horse dance” changes how we talk about serious horse training…for real.

NY Daily News said it in print, perhaps after many other media outlets asked the same question: “What’s the deal with [that guy PSY’s] signature dance?”

“It’s a horse-riding dance,” PSY explained in an interview with NY1 anchor Michelle Park. “So there is an invisible horse, and you’re on it.”

I doubt many of you have at this point failed to catch at least one or two moments of the 900-million-plus-viewed video—South Korean pop star PSY’s “Gangnam Style” is said to be the most popular video in the world. And shouldn’t it be a boon for horse business that throughout PSY and his crew do a goofy rendition of the “ride the pony” dance kids used to spoof in junior high spliced with a bit of Monty Python, and that in the video, PSY first performs said dance in the middle of a posh-looking stable?

(That “posh-looking stable” is the Royal Saddle Equestrian Society in Ilsan, South Korea, by the way.)

The Royal Saddle Equestrian Society is the scene of PSY's very un-stable-like dance.
The Royal Saddle Equestrian Society is the scene of PSY’s very un-stable-like dance.

But of course, PSY’s point is not to draw people to equestrianism or promote well-turned-out riding facilities, but to poke fun at an an activity that, especially in South Korea, is typically associated with the wealthy.

“When we made this choreography,” PSY said to Rolling Stone magazine, “we called it ‘horse dance.’ I told [the director], ‘Hey, this is horse dance, so let’s find some horse place.’ In that way, it can be more cheesy. It can be more ridiculous. So we did that.”

The thing is, us horse people (many of us NOT wealthy) actually take the terms “horse” and “dance,” when used together, seriously. The trainers we all strive to emulate, including BUCK BRANNAMAN, FREDERIC PIGNON, LINDA TELLINGTON-JONES, and KLAUS FERDINAND HEMPFLING, consider riding and working with your horse a “dance,” and say so. For years, we could search the words “horse” and “dance” online and our first hits would be interesting commentary, thoughtful horse training philosophy, or perhaps a Freestyle clip from a top dressage arena somewhere in the world. For years it has been a perfectly legitimate way to describe the partnership and celebrate the connection for which those who work with and ride horses strive.

But no longer. We’ll have to search harder now. This is the only “horse dance” you’ll find:


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