Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Dressage’ Category


Saddle Seat Wednesday

If I had to choose between saddle seat and dressage, I’d take saddle seat. You go faster.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

The Cone Theory of Interdisciplinary Riding

Saddle Seat Wednesday

I think of dressage and saddle seat as a Venn diagram.

For a low value of x, both are English-style horseback activities that do not involve jumping. The ultimate dispensation of x will require those more knowledgeable that I. The distance between the two is so small relative to how far away I am from both …

… that they merge into one big dot.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Dressage June 2017: We Leg Yield, Who Knew?

Rodney and I had our third dressage lesson with Mr. E. [March, May].

We went for the full 45 minutes. No quitting early for us.

We trotted. A lot. Probably as much as we have trotted for the rest of phase II combined.

We did leg yields. I would not have said that I knew how to do leg yields. I tried for years with Previous Horse and all I got was attitude. With step-by-step guidance, I got Rodney organized. Then Mr. E. said leg-yield. I told Rodney, ‘Go that-a-way.’ He did. He floating from rail to quarterline like a leaf on the wind.

The next step is to shift the lessons to a place with more space and better footing. Mr. E. has been wanting us to canter for the last two sessions, but it has been too slick.

That’s enough to put anyone in a good mood!

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Weekend Activities

As of last Wednesday, when I scheduled this post, the plans for the weekend were as below. All activities subject to the vagaries of horses and weather. If there is/was anything left of me Sunday night, I will/will have update(d) the post with a success rate.

Thursday – Katherine in the SSF round-pen with Bingo.

Friday – Katherine in the dressage arena with Rodney.

Saturday – Greg in the SSF round-pen with Milton.

Sunday – Greg & Katherine in the WHF front field with Bliss.


Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

USDF Interview: Beth Beukema, Intercollegiate Dressage Association

“Behind The Scenes: Beth Beukema, Intercollegiate Dressage Association”
USDF Connection
May 2017
United States Dressage Federation


A short interview with the IDA president.

©2017 United States Dressage Federation. Used by permission. Reproduction prohibited without prior written permission of the publisher.

Previous Posts [Behind The Scenes]

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Rodney’s Dressage May 2017

Breaking out the full-seat britches for lesson #2.

No surprise, our second lesson built on the first one [Dressage]. We halted. We trotted a few laps. Mr. E says we would have cantered if the footing had been better. On the grand scale of things, it remains pitiful. On our personal scale, it was FANTASTIC. A few of the strides where the best dressage I’ve done. Ever.

Perhaps it is Mr. E’s approach. He doesn’t use the ‘push with the inside leg, hold the outside rein’ blather. Or perhaps I’ve never had a horse who can do what I ask. Either way, Mr. E says ‘Do X,Y,Z.’ I do. Rodney does. Cool.

Partway through the lesson, Rodney was tight? Tired? Tense? I wasn’t sure. This made me miss Previous Horse. I’ve thought of PH as my heart horse because I always knew what he was thinking [In Defense of Caesar]. Now, I’m starting to wonder. I could hear him, but he never had the slightest interest in listening to me. That’s not a communication. That’s one party being loud about what they want. Regardless, I need to put the past behind me and ride the horse I have.

I’ve spent a lot of blog time pondering how the different riding disciplines overlap [Styling]. In my last saddle seat lesson, Coach Courtney told me to set my hands. Okay, I will, but that is the Wrong Way to Ride. One should have soft, following hands that are sympathetic to the horse’s mouth. Obviously. Fast forward to dressage lesson. For trotting, Mr. E told me not to pull but not to give. Really? That sounds a lot like Set Your Hands.

Later, Mr. E wanted me to use my knees. In fact, he asked, ‘How hard can you dig your knees in?’ Well, after five years of saddle seat, pretty durn hard. We will overlook the fact that my heels shot out sideways as I did so.

On a final note, Rodney seems to really like Mr. E. With both his chaperone [It Takes A Village] and Mr. E on the sidelines, Rodney started out the ride super relaxed.

Update: further thoughts from Mr. E in comments. See “themuerdago” below.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

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.


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