Road to the World Cup, Do I Miss Equitation? Guest Post

Adventures in Saddle Seat

Stepping Stone Farm rider Reagan Upton is on the U.S. Saddle Seat World Cup Team. She is sharing her story. Welcome Reagan.

Part 1 [Have Saddle, Will Travel]
Part 2 [First Team Practice]
Part 3 [Three-Gaited & Five-Gaited]

Not many of us have the opportunity to represent our country in international competition. Anyone have topics for Reagan to address in future posts?

For the overwhelming majority of my saddle seat career I have shown and excelled in the equitation division. This year, I decided it was finally time to hang up the equitation hat and retire. I have won all three equitation finals, completing the triple crown, so there isn’t much left for me to accomplish in that discipline.

All winter I figured I would be miserable not showing in equitation this year and would hate watching other people at shows showing in “my” class while I just sat on the rail trying to relive the glory days. I imagined the thought of someone else claiming the national title this year would get under my skin.

In all honestly, I have been completely okay with it. It has been very refreshing not to have 2 leg lessons a week, ride with weights, or drill myself on patterns. I also don’t have the mental pressure on myself to be perfect. Equitation is stressful and I guess now that I am not showing in it anymore I realize just how stressful it was. Preparing for shows and sitting in the warm-up waiting to enter my class doesn’t have my stomach in knots anymore.

I have a new challenge this year that is a six-year-old spunky black gelding named Hendrix, also known as “Jimi.”  Jimi is quite the handful but in a fun way. Jimi is learning a new division, Country Pleasure, so it’s like we are trying to master the performance division together. I do miss all the blue ribbons I won in equitation, that is taking some adjusting, but Jimi and I have done surprising well so far this first half of the season. We have shown in 15 classes and have been 1st six times and 2nd five times.

This time last year showing equitation, I was undefeated, so the 5 blue ribbon tally is a little humbling. Jimi and I are working hard to become a team so when we do finally get called to the winner’s circle it is very gratifying. The adrenaline rush of equitation was addicting but the high stakes meant high pressure. This year is about learning my new horse and enjoying the journey and I am just fine with that.

Jimi’s classes are performance so they don’t prepare me for the World Cup. I’ve honestly been too busy traveling for shows to think about WC at the moment. The competition is five weeks away so I will get to focusing on WC here in the near future. I need to get back practicing five gaited patterns and do a few leg lessons. I’m not too worried about my equitation. Most of that is muscle memory by now. It won’t take long to get my form back in order.

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