Three Reasons I Suck At Equitation
1) I think I still ride the way I did as a 20-something.
I used to be good at equitation. Or at least I used to look good enough that I could waffle about for the level at which I showed. If one wants to win Big Eq in any discipline, one had better be more than a pretty face. I wasn’t at those levels. I was young and thin and sat a horse well. It was enough.
To me, those rides were yesterday. In my mind, I am swanning around the Capitol Centre looking regal in a ladies sidesaddle class. I forget how long ago that was. In reality, my body has suffered decades of muscle memory wherein my equitation atrophied while I worked on my effectiveness. The position I unconsciously assume is no longer a model of elegance. I just think it is.
2) I forget where I am.
After 20 years of retraining and riding an OTTB in the jumper ring, my first thought is to how the horse is moving. This is why I do better on veterans such as Sam or Alvin. I can leave them to get on with their jobs, while I get on with mine. When Trump or Lola wander off book, I drop everything to concentrate on the horse. Not that one can’t equitate and ride, I just don’t.
This is compounded by the fact that I don’t fully grasp what makes an ASB tick. The result is far too much discoordinated floundering.
3) Presentation is not a skill I practice in any other sector of my life.
In the last two years of saddle seat showing, I have spent more time worried about my personal style than I have in the last two decades, on horse or off.
I don’t own panty hose. I wear make-up when forced to for shows. What few dress clothes I own gather dust in the closet. I have been known to cut my hair with horse trimmers. I work at home in my pajamas. The impression I make on other people comes through my words, not my looks. When I go out in public, my main concern is that my ass is covered. Literally. We are talking cloth over buttocks. If my barn jeans have gotten away from me, I occasionally fail at this.
It comes as a shock to the system when I am suddenly required to exude poise for five minutes on a Saturday.
This doesn’t mean I can’t become an equitation diva. Or that I couldn’t learn a lot if I try but fall short. Liza Towell Boyd, the best child rider of her generation, could not win the Maclay finals. I would be in good company.