Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Styling, Or Not

Saddle Seat Wednesday

Over the years, I have compared saddle seat to dressage [In A Nutshell]. Probably because they are both on the flat. Now I’m thinking that saddle seat has more in common with hunters. And that’s not a good thing for me.

In jumpers, cross-country, and show jumping (phase 3 of eventing), the goal is to get ‘er done. Go fast. Jump high. Make it to the finish line. Style is important in that a classic rider and a horse with a classical way of going are more effective and more efficient. Michael Jung and FischerRocana FST on the Rolex XC are outstanding examples of this. However, in classes scored for faults &/or time, artistic interpretation is a non-starter.

I’m told that there is room for expressiveness in dressage. But that comes after one has mastered the maneuvers. I have enough to do executing the right figure in the right place.

Hunters (saddle seat) is all about style. For the rider in hunter (saddle seat) equitation. For the horse the rest of the time. Simply getting around is not enough. One is assumed to be able to meet the basic requirements of the class, i.e. jump the jumps (execute the correct gaits). The heights are low, or relatively low, with jumps that are well-built and inviting (3 or 5 gaits in a flat, enclosed ring with good footing). Rounds are judged on smoothness, on flow, on panache and pizazz. It’s all about art.

I don’t do art.

Museums bore me. I listen to music just about never. When artists talk, I understand the words but the sentences don’t register. I have many sterling virtues. An aesthetic soul is not one of them.

This may be why I feel so at sea out in the ASB ring. I keep trying to find something mechanical to fix. I master the 40% that is the technical side but have no clue about the performing aspects that make up the remaining 60%. There are no metrics for my hyper-analytic mind to grab onto. More hand? More speed? More leg? A different line? It depends.

Oh well. A learning opportunity. If I survive the frustration.

Counterpoint: I ran this all past Coach Courtney. She agreed about the importance of style in saddleseat. She agreed that it’s about game-time decisions. Then she pointed out that I’m already plenty stylish in a cart. She said I just need to ride like I drive.

Arrg.

Counterpoint II: Coach Husband points out that my driving style has been mentioned before, “Sent into the ring with the injunction to ride like I drive, i.e. More Alvin!” [Show Report].

Yeah, looking back, I’ve talked about the need for artistic merit. 2015: “My presentation veers toward intense and scary rather than toward relaxed and pleasant.” [Boot Camp 2]. 2016: “I try to improve by even tighter attention to detail … And it’s making me nuts … I can do the riding. I need to work on the overall picture, the pizzazz, the pleasant. [Put Down the Hammer, Pick up The Paintbrush].

Well, the hunter part is new.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Comments on: "Styling, Or Not" (3)

  1. At the risk of repeating myself, have you tried yoga? Not as a sport but as a way to move the mind to Zen, the being in the moment stuff. It’s hard but it may make the ring easier.

  2. I couldn’t do it. It reminds me too much of prancing around a conformation ring. Way too ‘subjective’ for my personality. I’d much rather duke it out on an agility course, herding or dock diving. (Hey, I’ve seen some pretty “artistic” leaps off a dock!) I relate better with the concept of gettin’ ‘er done … or not, with no doubts about where we stand when finished.

  3. Zen: I have tried yoga. It hurts my back. Generally, I do better with movement, such as a walking mediation or tai chi. Specifically, in this case, I’d be better off with acting classes, music appreciation, or perhaps a personality transplant.

    Get ‘er Done: We reach. Again. Unfortunately, this is the nice lady in my area who allows me to ride her horses. I find I like having a barn. I’m trying to see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill.

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