Saddle Seat Wednesday
“Aren’t you glad you’re a saddle seat rider?”
Huh? We were standing in the permanent stabling, next to the covered walkway, leading to the indoor ring, watching the pouring rain. My feet were dry. My feet were likely to stay dry. I remarked that, at this moment, I did not miss eventing. (Eventing = charging around outside in all weathers. In England, if it doesn’t rain, they cancel the event. But I digress.) I got the response above. Self-identity is a funny thing. I consider myself a jumper rider, although I haven’t jumped in years. I consider myself an event rider, although I haven’t evented in decades. I consider myself a person who takes lessons & shows saddle seat. But a “saddle seat rider”? Not me.
Still, whatever I call myself, the natives have welcomed me into their midst. (Far nicer, I’m sorry to say, than a saddle seat rider going the other way. Again, I digress.) One of the families at the barn runs a t-shirt shop, The Sassy Equestrian [Etsy, Facebook]. At Pro-Am, we were all given Stepping Stone Farm Show Squad 2016 shirts. Friday was the designated shirt day. I got the feels looking at all of us in our Team Awesome shirts.
An important part of Team Awesome is the horses. Alvin Ailey (Alvin) was my driving partner. Sultan’s Miracle Man (Sam) took me into the riding classes.
The driving class had one other entrant, but the horse was fancy. My only chance was to outshow them. I resolved to stay off the rail, hit lane 2 [Boot Camp Bucks], and press the gas. Alvin was all over it. I asked him for a charging regular trot. He delivered. I asked him for as much extended trot as we could without cantering. He delivered. I asked him to work his corners. He did. Although I was finally a driver instead of a passenger, all credit still goes to Alvin. He was like a teacher hearing my lessons. ‘Yes, that is how you ask for a proper trot. Very good.’ Second Class. Don’t rest on my laurels. Don’t give the judge a chance to share the love. If dirt wasn’t hitting me in the face, we weren’t going fast enough. Between the inside lines and the speed, we got some Tokyo Drift going in the corners. Alvin was loving it.
Sam, on the other hand, was in a mood. He was not loving it. He was not loving me. We spent the first few passes carping at each other. Down the backstretch, he tossed his head down in what would have been, in a less dignified horse, a bucking fit. Sigh. Only two riders in the class. Unlikely that the judge was not watching. While cantering in the second direction (Sam & I canter beautifully. Unfortunately saddle seat is all about the trot. Digress.), we passed the other horse. Trotting. Well, then. Certainly, I do not wish bad luck to my competition. I want them to have wonderful rides – as they eat my dust. However, if they are going to have a bad day, I appreciate that they do so when I am also having a bad day. We won, but it was a best-of-the-worst situation. Sam pulled his socks up for the second class but still not ideal. I didn’t see much of the other horse, but I heard enough trainer noise coming from outside the ring that I assumed other horse did not do as well in the sock-pulling department. Improvement and the win.
Then we waited for the championship class. I tried to find something that would make Sam a happy horse. I tried standing. I tried having someone love on him. I tried walking. Trotting seemed to give him the least time to fuss. So we trotted. I stopped trying to fix it. I sat too far back, lifted my hands to my eyebrows, and started trying to fix it like a saddle seat rider. Sam is never happy with my ersatz hunter moves. For whatever reason, we got to a place where I could do a bit of styling during the class. It’s hard for an adult to beat the kids. I pulled into the line-up thinking, ‘At least I didn’t give it away.’ We won! Cue the goofy grin.
Yes, I went 5 for 5. It. Was. Awesome. I’m proud of the beginning and end classes. I drove/rode well. I can be my own worst critic, so you know it was a good day when I am willing to praise myself in public. On the other hand, the middle classes were examples of my horse show bread landing butter side up.
On the way out, the folks from Richfield Video interviewed the winners. I talked five times to the poor man holding the microphone. I managed a usable soundbite once. The rest were the same ‘It was great. The horse was great.’ drivel that I used to get when I covered horse shows.
Go Team Stepping Stone!
122 – Aca Showmanship Driving, Alvin Ailey, 1st of 2
123 – Aca Reinsmanship Driving, Alvin Ailey, 1st of 2
134 – Aca Equitation WTC Adult, Sultan’s Miracle Man, 1st of 2
135 – Aca Showmanship WTC Adult, Sultan’s Miracle Man, 1st of 2
138 – Aca WTC Championship, Sultan’s Miracle Man, 1st of 6
Thank you to the Wamble family and Courtney Huguley for the awesome horses. Thank you to Alvin and Sam for being awesome, eventually.
Show Photographer Doug Shiflet. In the first four classes, I am the one with the helmet. In the fifth class, I am the one with the blue vest & big fluffy ribbon. My photo download rant, including a link to message by Mr. Shiflet.
Thank you for reading,