I was actually able to watch the showjumping of the 202(1) Olympics without utterly cringing. The Swedish team took the gold with only one pole down. They were one of the few teams that seemed to realized that the brakes are in their behinds and their hands are for communication. And their horses not only jumped clean, they jumped barefoot.
I cannot find video of the Swedes gold medal Olympic jumps so here is one on Peder Fredricson schooling instead. It turns out Peder is very conscious of using his body to communicate with his horse. He is also capable of communicating his ideas verbally to his students.
There were plenty of heavy handed riders in the Olympic showjumping who refuse to admit that sawing on their horse’s mouths just messes up the horses stride and their mind. In this Olympics, those riders did not jump clear rounds and certainly not within the time limits. Most of those horses who managed to jump high and fast did so in spite of their riders not because of their horsemanship.
There have been a number of articles discussing how resistant the competitive horse world is adapting the training techniques to the science. The research showing that neural reflexes cause horse’s legs to flex and extend as the head and neck change position is decades old. But losing maybe the only way to open such people’s minds to the fact that yanking on the reins causes the faults that drop the fences and slows the horse.