Saddle Seat Wednesday
Why She’s Right
Equitation has become an end unto itself.
In a performance class, whether saddle seat or hunters, it’s about the horse. The judge doesn’t care if I stare at my lap, or stare off into space. No one checks the position of my pinkies. A saddle seat performance judge is not looking to see the underside of my boot (indicating a correctly flared leg).
Why She’s Wrong
Quiet riding is good riding. Being subtle means catching a problem before it goes public. Wildly waving hands or feet or upper body may or may not interfere with the horse’s balance, but they don’t help. No one will check the position of my pinkies, but if they are out of position, I am less effective.
Trainer riding is not bad riding. Trainers spend much of their time educating green horses or reeducating obstreperous ones. They develop a characteristic defensive posture. Saddle seat trainers hunch. Jumping trainers put their feet on the dash. Meanwhile, their balance, use of the aids, communication with the horse, etc., etc., are spot on.
I can’t ride like a man. I’m guessing here, but when I see an extreme trainer hunch in the saddle seat ring, it is from a male trainer. I’m thinking that saddle seat is, um, traditional enough that female riders must still look like ladies?
Fitting in is important. I’m betting that if I rode into a five-gaited class in a flawless hunter position, the judges would take one look and think, ‘She ain’t from around these parts.’ My position wouldn’t matter if my horse was brilliant. What if there was equally brilliant horse with a rider who looked the part? Human nature favors the familiar. Or perhaps not. That’s the trouble with subjective judging, one never knows for sure.
What say you, what effect does equitation have in performance classes?
Thank you for reading,