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.

In sum
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.

Categories: Horse Shows, Horses, Saddle Seat

2 replies »

  1. You should give yourself some pats on the back for learning a new medium of riding, sticking to it, and if you’re showing, you must be doing better than you think. SS is a bit dressy or formal, and has always been that way. Maybe it’s a result from the history of southern gentility that started the American Saddlebred breed — plantation owners wanted good looking horses with smooth gaits for comfortable all-day riding in the fields and to business meetings in town where they met their peers, as well as carriage driving for “the Mrs.” to make social calls.
    And if you study the design of Kentucky jodhpurs with jod boots, no one — no matter their age and/or body shape — looks bad or frumpy. It’s a very classic look that’s pretty ageless.
    Re showing equitation — I could kill some judges for their decisions and unrealistic preferences when I learn of very talented riders who avoid equitation classes because they know they don’t fit a mold.
    ‘Like ballet or football, one needs to build muscles and moves, before going up against a rival team or an audience of critics. Then those moves are enhanced by appearances — like posture, attitude, attire, etc. It takes awhile to pull those various elements together, (I’m quite rusty at showing, so maybe I shouldn’t be offering my two cents here) so don’t beat yourself up (like we all tend to do 🙂 ).
    And I’ve always thought that the operative word was horse SHOW, not a ‘burger joint or an amusement park. Riding skills and talents are needed to get to the show ring, and then the other half kicks in — SHOWing the horse. Just keep remembering the word “show” and you’ll do fine.
    Keep up the good work.
    Btw I have ridden and shown in 3-gaited side saddle classes, but that’s another Comment for another day.

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