Riding Toward Random

I am I am one step closer to sitting on a horse. I am going to take Saddleseat lessons. I blame this blog.

In a previous post [Running on Empty], I asked for suggestions to awaken my motivation. A kindly commenter suggested, “Take a lesson at a random barn…..”. Had she said, “Take lessons”, my response would have been, ‘Yeah, yeah, tried that.’ English barns cost too much to make a habit of. The one nice-looking Western barn I found never responded [Checklist]. There are other barns, but I want an actual program with reliable lesson horses. Not someone with a handful of horses pimping out their riding horse for money.

However, she said, “Take a lesson at a random barn…..”. A few days earlier, we’d had dinner with friends whose granddaughter is at summer camp at Stepping Stone Farm (also Facebook), a local saddleseat barn. The two ideas fused together and became a plan. I’d go check out the gdaughter’s barn and maybe sign up for lessons. I can’t get more random than a discipline without a jump nor a speed class in sight.

Of course, I have the usual Hunter/Jumper & Eventing prejudices about the Saddleseat industry. But, I’ve learned to take my own prejudices with a grain of salt. During my Kentucky pilgrimages [Pereginatio], I stayed with a family, one branch of which rides Saddleseat. At their farm, I saw a bit that looked as if it was made out of bicycle chain. I was horrified. Unfortunately, Rolex doesn’t have an unblemished record for bringing all entries home safely. No horses were dropping dead at Saddleseat shows. They were probably as appalled at Eventing as I was at their bit.

At Stepping Stone, the owner/head trainer asked about my experience. I said I had ridden but it had been a while. Which is all too despairingly true. I was surprised that she didn’t ask more. However, given the smoke horse folks can blow, how would she know what to believe? Having run afoul due to perky eagerness in my youth, I tend to undersell in horse situations. She couldn’t know that. Besides, she’ll find out whatever needs first time I get on a horse. The barn always starts with simple one-on-one walk/trot classes until a new rider is settled. I have no objection. Even if Rodney & I were thundering around, I know essentially zip about saddleseat.

Any advice from Saddleseat riders out there?
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You know it’s hot when the cats start to melt.

Categories: Barn Life, Horses, Weather

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5 replies »

  1. You’re probably going to raise some eyebrows when you show up with a helmet. My suggestion: wear it anyway; some o’ them critters is spun!

    My one time in a Lane Fox-type saddle, I thought it was just about the most uncomfortable thing this side of a polo saddle. But I look fwd to your reviews.

  2. love the melting cats!
    have you thought about sidesadle? tho it would probably be hard to find a barn which teaches that. you did look very elegant at the sidesaddle class at the WIHS.
    i think i have the same prejudices about saddleseat; do wear a helmet, despite what anyone says. your brain is very important . i am looking forward to hearing about it. maybe you can get Greg to take some photos?
    when will you be riding Rodney?

    • Sidesaddle: My brief career was a special combination of a tolerant horse (George) and a generous soul who lent me her tack. Been wishing I could get back to it ever since.
      Photos: Definitely. I’ve already warned them that I write a blog.
      Riding R: from your mouth to God’s ear.

  3. Ah, and here I have an opinion. I rode saddle seat for several years in my teens. I started riding with lessons at a hunter/jumper barn, but when I was 16, the opportunity came for me to quite cheaply lease a Park Arabian. Oh, my stars, it was fun!! The barn owner was a reasonably serious saddlebred competitor and I went to shows with them for two or three summers as a groom. They was a bicycle chain bit, but it hung in the tack room. I didn’t see it ever used. And, the general care of the horses was great. She believed in turn out and ran her barn about the way I would run one. She was showing her oldsters and winning at the state level when they were well into their 20s.

    Something to think about, Country Pleasure is a division where the horses don’t get so high falutin’ and I always found them a gas to ride. Really fun, easy trail riding and comfy as all get out. The saddle will take a bit of getting used to, as there isn’t much to keep you in it but your own balance. The way you ride is quite different than the hunter or eventing saddles you are used to, but fun! Do enjoy it. And if it’s not your gig, at least you got some riding in. Randomly. 😉

  4. Oh my! This should be an adventure for you. 🙂
    Having shown half-arabs in my late teens in the Country Pleasure division, all I can say is when they hook into a bright, big (feeling) trot it is every bit as much of a buzz as any other riding discipline can give. Oh and if you get to show, prepare to have a lot of fun.
    Boogey on down that rail!

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