Yesterday, two readers took issue when I said that transitions didn’t matter [The Ups and Downs]. Allow me to amend the statement. The way *I* rode jumps, transitions didn’t matter.
This is partly due to Previous Horse. He was athletic & balanced to a freakish degree. (If he’d had heart, cooperation, or a competitive spirit, we would have conquered the universe. But I digress.) I kicked. He supplied the balance. He objected if I interfered. We ran around & jumped as the fences appeared in front of us.
However, this is mostly due to fundamental flaws. In my saddle seat adventure, there are three types of riding:
1) Saddle seat. I know nothing. It’s all new.
2) Hunters/jumpers/eventing/dressage. Yes, there are differences between forward seat and balanced seat. Does anyone use a true forward seat anymore? Maybe upper-level show hunters in the US? An argument could be made that both jumping & Western have become more balanced seat and that jumping has always been balanced seat in Europe. Conversely, I’m coming to the conclusion that all riding styles, for example, saddle seat and dressage, are closer than they appear on the surface. But these are matters for for another day.
In practical terms, most folks would put saddle seat in a different bin than HJED.
3) Hunters/jumpers/eventing/dressage the way I rode them. It’s not clear that #3 had anything to do with the correct execution of #2. When I do X incorrectly in saddle seat, is it because saddle seat is different, or because I have been doing X wrong all along?
Take the example of transitions, particularly downward ones. Pull for duration of transition. Horse falls into lower gait. Drop reins. Kick forward. Rearrange my knitting. Seriously, that was the plan. Getting better at transitions meant executing this routine faster & more smoothly.
Having Sam maintain the same balance while shifting gears was a revelation. Correct, jazzy walk, touch with leg, canter. Canter, touch with fingers, stay balanced, walk. Smooth, flawless transitions that were a joy to sit. Huh. Who knew. I had no idea that’s how transitions were supposed to go.
I don’t think anyone, myself included, realized how many holes remained in my riding. Oh sure, I can make it look good. I have talent and the ability to bullshit at a maestro level [NACHS III]. OTOH, this would explain why I have never been able to drag self out of the Training-level dressage/Novice eventing/low jumper ghetto.