Adventures in Saddle Seat
Alabama Winter Tournament 2018-2019
ERA Stables/Elite Riding Academy
Arab AL, USA
Saturday, November 10, 2018
1. Advance Horsemanship WTC Adult – 1st of 2
2. Advanced Equitation WTC Adult (no Pattern) – 1st of 2
7. Pleasure Horse or Pony WTC Adult – 1st of 2
All riding classes with Sultan’s Miracle Man.
Thank you to Courtney Huguley for the ever-stellar Sam.
When you’ve spent the week burned out from a horse show, what is the most logical move? Another horse show! I meant to be sensible, really I did. Then I found out Sam was available. Was there ever a question?
The fun part of Winter Tournament is that I show in the Advanced class, against suit riders. Not their fanciest horses, who are on winter break, but young, green talent is good competition for a student on a lesson horse. Unfortunately, two barns stayed home, so I ended up competing against another Adult Academy rider. Nice woman, nice horse, but I compete against them all year long.
Winter Tournament is also for practicing new things: new horse-rider matches, new moves, new patterns. I asked Coach Courtney what we should work on. Kick it up a gear? Practice suit-quality maneuvers? She said she wanted me to work on staying up with my head/eyes/chest/hands to the point that she didn’t have to remind me every time I passed the ingate. Basics? Consistency?! That’s so not sexy.
Being the ever dutiful student, I buckled down and tried to stay up. (English is weird.) Sam makes a good equitation mount because he gets on with his job and leaves me time and space to worry about my form. I assume I was somewhat successful since I didn’t hear a lot of yelling from the sidelines. OTOH, that may have been from a more relaxed attitude on the part of a coach at Winter Tournament than from my dynamic riding.
I was also moderately successful in keeping the pre-ride meltdown under control, including firmly smacking my mental demons when they dared to raise their heads. I’m not usually an advocate of violence, but seriously, Sam? At Winter Tournament? There is no excuse for nerves. OTOH, I was gasping and moaning on the drive up. My innards were still annoyed with me from Nationals.
While I was successful with the new, I managed to completely flail at the old. In the first class, the announcer called for walk. So, I walked. Right there. Six years of saddle seat and I totally forget about finishing my pass. Fortunately, it took me less than half a step to realize what I had done and boot Sam back up to a trot.
During the trot in the second direction, I looked down and realized I was posting on the outside leg. That’s wrong. Switch. No, wait. I was right the first time. Switch back. Again, it all took place in 1/2 a step. In the third class, I decided to carry my stick hunter/jumper style, i.e. in my right hand the entire time, rather starting in the left and switching it. I have no explanation for any of this. Perhaps my brain had not recovered completely either.
Meanwhile, Sam was having an equally big day. He didn’t like – insert where applicable – the cold, the mud, the grill being started, the phase of the moon. He kept telling me that he was a sensitive show horse and could not be expected to work under these conditions. We’ve had this talk before [Show Report], but he was selling it harder than usual this time. I was even mildly apprehensive before my third class. Sam being that goofy was like watching your grandmother bust the latest dance moves. No one’s going to get hurt, but it is disturbing to witness. Fortunately, the morning’s work had warmed up the motor oil and we were able to fancy prance, just a little bit.
Bring on the suit horses!
Thank you for reading,