Road to the World Cup, International Saddle Seat Style, 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]
Part 4 [Do I Miss Equitation?]
Part 5 [Traveling for the Team]
Part 6 [What Is Equitation?]
Part 7 [Rail Work vs Patterns]
Part 8 [Riding for the USA]
Part 9 [Out-of-Saddle Activities]

Today is day 3 of the Saddle Seat World Cup. The five-gaited team competes Wednesday, July 4 and Friday, July 6 Thursday, July 5. Competition to be livestreamed on the USEF Network. This post was written before the competition began. Good Luck Reagan!

Clothing comparison: USA left. SA right.
2016 World Cup competition in Stellenbosh, South Africa, Three-Gaited section.
Photo by Christy Parker

Questions by KTW
I know a little about the international aspect, but I won’t pretend to be an encyclopedia of knowledge.

What countries?
United States of America, Canada, South Africa, and Namibia will all be competing for the 2018 Saddle Seat World Cup

How long have they had saddle seat?
I am not exactly sure how long each country has had saddle seat. The Saddle Seat World Cup has been going on since 1996. The two countries that competed in the first competition were USA and South Africa. Canada began competing in the World cup in 1998 and Namibia started in 2004. Other countries that have previously competed but won’t be attending this year’s competition are Germany, Sweden, and Great Britain.

Are there different saddle seat styles in different countries?
I haven’t noticed different styles from the previous international competitions I’ve watched. The art of equitation is universal and is the same in each country. I have noticed the riding attire trends are a little different. USA’s riding suits tend to be flashier with shiny fabrics and the South Africans like mismatched derbies. They might wear a tan derby with a black suit or and dark brown derby with a tan suit. The mismatched derbies are something you don’t see here in the states. In my (probably biased) opinion, the USA riders always have a more polished, tailored appearance.

Do other countries come over to ride at Louisville?
Louisville is still our big Kahuna but the international barns don’t typically travel to the USA to compete at our “World’s” Championship Horse Show. There have been a lot of native South African trainers that have moved here and opened barns in the USA, but there isn’t much international saddle seat competition outside World Cup.

Who usually wins World Cup?
United States is definitely the World Cup powerhouse. USA dominates the three-gaited division and has only lost to South Africa a handful of times. The five-gaited division is more evenly matched. Both USA and South Africa are very competitive in the five-gaited division. South Africa actually has Five-Gaited Equitation at their horse shows where the USA does not. So, five-gaited equitation is something the South Africans practice on a consistent basis even outside of preparing for World Cup. Virtually every World Cup competition, USA and South Africa are competing for Gold and Silver and the other countries are competing for Bronze.

Tell us about the International Saddle Seat Equitation Association.
The International Saddle Seat Equitation Association (ISSEA) is the governing body, which is composed of countries that are uniting with the common goal of promoting and growing the Saddle Seat Equitation discipline on an International level. ISSEA is the organization that controls how the World Cup competitions are run, the judging criteria, patterns that will be performed, and is responsible for selecting the judges.

How will this be different than any other horse show, or will it not be? I once interviewed an Olympic eventer who said the whole point was this it wasn’t different. You went in & do what you do.
The actual riding and execution of patterns will not be different than any other horse show. I will still ride and show the horses in the exact same way. The difference is how everything is scored. The judges do not tie the class in the same fashion as a regular show (1st – 8th). The judges have to assign each rider a numerical score from 1-100. The rider’s individual scores are then calculated and combined with the other riders from the specific country. The scoring gets a little complicated and could be its own post.

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