Guest Show Report: A Mom’s POV, Part 2

Northeast Georgia Foothills Charity Horse Show
June 27th & 28th, 2014
Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center, Gainesville GA

I showed in Academy Walk, Trot, Canter Adult with Ashado, barn name Lola. Thanks to Jessica Hill and her family for sharing their fabulous mare.

My mother came down to watch me ride. Outsiders often see things that we as insiders take for granted. Welcome:

In Part 1, I wrote about the many elements of the horse show that were like old times.

Part 2 is about being with Katherine at a saddle seat horse show and how different it was from the cross country or hunter/jumpers of our past.

As with most horse shows, there were men and boys in some of the classes, but it was predominately a female event so I will speak from the distaff point of view.

Most of the elements of the saddle seat show that were new to me seemed ridiculous at first. By the end of the day, it all made sense.

There were buns but these buns had mandatory bows. Shiny earrings were mandatory. Make-up was mandatory. For those of you who know me and my daughter, right there you know we’re not in Kansas anymore.

The pant legs were so long the cuffs dragged on the ground, so garters held them up out of the dust until the rider mounted her horse. Gloves and boots were taped down to create a smooth line.

With temperature in the mid-to-upper eighties, the layers of wool, makeup, boots, gloves, tape and dust were really, really uncomfortable as we hurried up and waited. These women must really want to do this. I couldn’t imagine the point of it all.

In the ring, all the frills smoothed out into a graceful whole. The suit looked businesslike but flowing. The pant cuffs draped down over the heel and made the footwork less noticeable. The result gave the appearance of effortless riding.

The bun with the bow said I am a lady. I may have beautiful hair but while I am riding, it is contained and out of the way. It looks sedate but the bow keeps it from looking too severe. Ditto the make-up and the earrings. The overall effect was lovely.

There was a practical point as well as pure aesthetics. The similarity of presentations allowed the judges to focus on the differences among the riders. It also gave them an indication of how serious the rider was about the discipline.

So, at the end of the day (literally – it was close to midnight) I could see the point of it all. These women were handling thousands of pounds of flesh, muscle, and hoof with strength and grace. They had a firm but soft touch with the reins. They had learned a lot about horses, a lot about themselves. But the most important element was the sheer joy in joining a fellow living being in a spin or three or four around the ring.

At the meta-level, it was fascinating to see how some of the antebellum culture has survived, transmogrified into a present-day sport. The riders of today were graceful, flowing and enjoying the ride. You could see how pleasant it would have been to glide though the day on a Saddlebred horse.

Categories: Horse Shows, Horses, Saddle Seat

1 reply »

  1. Really interesting. To a Brit new to the showing world this saddle seat culture can be particularly hard to understand (I’m still incredulous about the earrings and make up) but this is a great way to understand it.

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