Sam I Am

I’m in love. I think I’ve just met a Saddleseat schoolmaster. His name is Sam. I’m told that if his rider gets serious, he’s perfectly capable of putting on the flash, but with beginners is equally capable of imitating a doorstop. Guess which one I chose.

When I arrived at Stepping Stone Farm, I was presented with the following post & video on Horse Nation, about an event rider having a saddleseat lesson. Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait.

Weekend Adventure: I test drove a Saddlebred.

Pretty funny, yes? Put me in a small funk. I didn’t want a bottle rocket. If I had been told that my ride was “REAL hot” I would NOT have been unconcerned and “secretly thrilled.” Hyperventilating and headed down the driveway would have been a more likely reaction. My preferred ride at that point would have been a small, narcoleptic pony. Plus I worried that my post would be nowhere near as amusing. Ride better than me or write better than me, I’ll cope. Do both and I’ll start questioning my purpose on the planet.

Enter Sam. Perhaps body language is one reason for the Saddlebred’s hyper reputation among hunter/jumpers and others. Picture a horse with a high head, bulging eyes and ears so alert they almost touch. In a Thoroughbred this means lift-off is immanent. In a Saddlebred, it means hello.

I was less nervous that I had expected, right up until it was time to get on. Then I started wondering who thought this was a good idea. As I slid on, got my stirrups adjusted, and scooted around in this weird new saddle, Sam stood like a rock. If he had jigged or danced or even moved off, I might have dissolved into a small puddle right there.

My discomfort increased as we walked toward the ring. I could tell my body was still braced for the ever-increasing meltdowns I had to deal with the last time I rode regularly [Square One]. Sam gradually jollied me out of my nerves with his willingness to do as little work as I requested. Stand? Sure. Walk quietly? No problem. He was not at all lazy or deadheaded, just conservative. He displayed absolutely no tendency to hear voices or begin aerial acrobatics. When I failed to keep the engine running at the canter, he happily slowed right on down. At this point, I would laugh because he made his intentions so clear. At the end of the trot in the second direction, he suggested that if this was a walk/trot lesson, he was done now and would go to the middle of the ring, thank you very much. After the canter in the second direction, he was sure he was done.

Without further ado, my saddleseat lesson (although I must admit that in my mental movies Sam was far more animated and I was far more elegant):

Film Credits
video: Miranda Shope
editing: Hubby
instructor: Courtney Huguley
horse: Sultan’s Miracle Man courtesy of the Donovan Family

Thank you Sam.

Categories: Horses, Riding, Sports Psychology

7 replies »

  1. Fun video! This made me want to go take a saddleseat lesson! My first horse was half quarter horse and half saddlebred – a strange combination for sure but it made for a knockout large pony hunter with a terrific neck, the smoothest trot ever (she was 3 – gaited) and a lot of sense but a lot of flash. She was smart and kind. Thanks for sharing the lesson via video!

  2. Enjoyed seeing you on a horse again. tho I still don’t know if saddlebred would be for me. Do they come pony size? LOL

    • Very slick, no knee rolls etc. My jumping saddle is fairly flat, so not too much of a problem. You sit a little farther back than I am used to. When I relax instead of fighting the saddle, it’s pretty comfortable. Which is, I believe, the whole purpose behind the development of the Saddlebred in the first place.

      • sddlebreds, tennessee walkers (whose running walk is incredible!) were bred as horses that could carry a plantation overlord for hours in the saddle comfortably.
        a lady at avenel got a tennessee walker and asked me to take her on her first trail ride. when i got the running walk – in my old saddle – it was really a change. the horse was steady as a rock, took one startle step when a grouse jumped into out into our path. if tenn. walkers came in miniature i might even be able to ride again. altho i’d really like another arabian….

%d bloggers like this: