New Clothes & Old Habits

My New Look
Photo by Courtney Huguley

My saddleseat instructor says that 90% of the time, she would rather have someone new to riding than a crossover from another discipline. Ingrained habits are just too hard to break.

I can see her point. As a crossover hunter/jumper/event rider, I am doing okay so far. However, I have always been a theoretical rider, perhaps to a fault. I want to know why my hands need to be doing thus-and-such and what that means for my balance and where my legs need to be. I have been accused of over-thinking my riding. This is just a new set of theories to think about.

In the beginning, I would lean forward and kick with my heels when I wanted the horse to go. I gotten past that, mostly. However, I still revert in moments of confusion. Sam and I were attempting the pattern that the Advanced Adult Class will be doing in Saturday’s show. It involved two-loop serpentines at the trot and canter. Saddleseat riders take their pattern work seriously. This was no lazy set of loops along the ring. The serpentines went across the center of the ring, meaning 10-meter loops at best. Plus, the transitions and the change of direction for the canter serpentine where to be done through the halt. All of this on a horse I that I am still learning to turn. Until now I have been relying on the rail to keep Sam turning left or right.

So, I’ve done my trot serpentine, have halted, and am looking down the barrel of half-circle/halt/half-circle/halt/reverse/trot. I get flustered, bend Sam to the inside, and ask him to canter. Saddleseat horses canter off outside leg/outside rein. Sam does exactly what I ask and picks up the wrong lead, leaving us to do a 10-meter half-circle on a counter-canter. It does not go well.

I can do it when I have time to think about it, but she’s right. When rushed, I fall back on habits of a lifetime.

List of saddleseat posts.

Have you learned a new riding (fencing, knitting) discipline? How did the changeover work for you?
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Gratuitous Kitten Pic

Rhyme likes to ride on my shoulder.

Categories: Horses, Riding

11 replies »

    • My jumping saddle is tres flat (Hartley Apollo) and I cannot abide kneerolls, deep seats etc. I dislike being told what to do by a saddle. So that’s not too much of a change. The saddle feels slippery when I first get on but less so once we get moving. Yesterday was the first day in the slippery pants & not as bad as I thought it would be. Where I have trouble is sitting back. I want to slide fwd & wrap my legs around the horse. At which point Sam stops & says “Huh?”

  1. About 10 years ago I decided to take karate with my kids. Everything about foot position is completely backwards and I had/have a hard time with that transition. That being said, once I realized that could progress and not have to “Jackie Chan”, I relaxed and learned and competed! I achieved my brown belt before life got in my way.

  2. When I started into the world of competitve ballroom dance, I had to unlearn everything (and I mean everything). In my avocational (eventing) and professional (law) lives, I had to be in complete control of my immediate environment or else I was cooked. In ballroom, I have absolutely no say in where we were going, what we were doing, or how we were going to get there. The yielding of control has been the most difficult part of the transition for me.

      • There’s some history here. After “Mommy”, her first words were “by self”. That was in response to “would you like me to…or would you rather do it by yourself.?”

        If the function of a mother is to bring up the offspring to be independent, I consider my job well done!

  3. Would like to see a photo with more than ‘slippery’ pants! At this point i would be happy to ride any old way..i miss it.’
    Did you know horses – at least my late Princess – are able to turn whilst in midair?
    I still have, and take care of, my old Crosby saddle. good for jumping and trail, but was starting to get in the way as i was progressing in dressage, so a new dressage saddle would have been in order.. had to stop riding before that happened. I’m glad saddle seat is working for you and i look forward to more pix and adventures. (my favorite saddle for jumping was none, with Princess i loved to jump bareback because i trusted her to take anything i pointed her at- and a few i didn’t! i really do wish you all the best, it’s just hard to picture you riding saddle seat.

  4. I started riding at a hunter/jumper barn (age 12), switched to saddle seat at 15 and then entered the world of dressage and eventing at 20. I can honestly say that none of them are really where I belong. I think there is a Paso Fino out there somewhere just waiting patiently for me. Or a Fjord? Something that will carry my sorry a$$ and a glass of wine. You know, without spilling it.

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