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.
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):
video: Miranda Shope
instructor: Courtney Huguley
horse: Sultan’s Miracle Man courtesy of the Donovan Family
Thank you Sam.