Adventures in Saddle Seat
The World Cup competition consists of two phases (Phase I and Phase II) that are held on separate days. The riders are required to ride a different horse for each phase. Each individual phase will consist of two segments:
1. Rail work: the riders will all compete together and work at a walk, trot and canter (the five-gaited team will also work at the slow gait and rack) both directions of the ring.
2. Pattern work: this will be executed individually. All the riders competing have received six patterns already to begin studying and practicing. At the competition, two of the patterns will be drawn at random and those will be the patterns the used for each phase.
The rail work section will run like any other horse show, with the exception that I will have never competed on the horse I will be riding. The rail work segment on an unfamiliar horse doesn’t stress me too much. I have been lucky to have many opportunities to catch ride at horse shows on horses I have never ridden before. Competing on an unfamiliar animal is something I am familiar with.
The pattern work section could be tricky. If you have read my previous post [Part 3], you know that five-gaited equitation is not present at USA shows. So doing five-gaited pattern work is not something I have a lot of experience with. I have done 100s if not 1000s of three-gaited patterns, so I am comfortable and well versed in the individual elements of the patterns. I am just not polished in the “gaited format”. Luckily, I have the patterns to practice before the competition. Two of these patterns will be used during the competition. The wild card will be the horses…
USA is required to provide all the horses that will be used for the competition since we are the host county. USA’s five-gaited horses will not be familiar with pattern work since USA does not have five-gaited equitation. So racking a figure 8 or slow gaiting a serpentine is not something the horses have been previously trained to do. At least the playing field will be even. All five-gaited riders from all countries will be riding gaited horses that probably have never been asked to do pattern work before this competition. The biggest challenge for ALL riders will be communicating each required pattern element to the horses who will all likely be thinking, “You want me to do what???”