Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Saddle Seat’ Category

Show Photos: Alabama Charity 2017

Alabama Charity Championship Horse Show
[Show Report, Riding]
Terry Young Photography

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Show Report Driving & Lessons

Driving Thursday

Lots of driving lately.

Alabama Charity Championship Horse Show, [Show Report, Riding]
96 Academy Driving with HB Whizbang – 2rd of 3
Thanks to the Alvis family for Mr. Snippy

Snippy deeply objected to the big, soft, rubber, straight bar bit that went with a set of borrowed harness. Go figure [Bits From Hell]. In the lemonade-from-lemons category, I was able to channel his outrage into the best extended trot we’ve gotten to date. We even got a little bit of drift going in one corner. Not Alvin-level drifting [Show Report I, II], but I could feel a slight sideways slide.

Sorry Snippy, we’ll do better by you next time.

The day after the show, Greg had a driven dressage lesson with Mr. E. Yes, the same instructor Rodney and I can’t manage to take lessons from [Leg Yield, Dubious]. At this point, I am so far down the rabbit hole that, come the day, I wasn’t all that upset [Laugh or Cry]. Although, that night I did have a dressage stress dream wherein Milton was tacked up, I still needed to get dressed, but couldn’t find out if my test was right away or delayed until tomorrow because of the large number of barrel racing trips in front of us. Clearly, it’s still on my mind. But I digress.

Mr. E liked a lot of the things Greg was doing, and thought Milton had good conformation for driving. Some of the comments were things Greg has heard before, e.g. Use your voice. The main focus of the lesson was transitions, which is more of a dressage thing than a ASB thing. As I’ve said before, dressage horses wait to hear what comes next; saddlebreds get on with their jobs [Obedience Epiphany].

By the end of 45 minutes, Milton was walking better, trotting off more promptly, and downshifting without giving his ewe-necked cow impression. All with a horse who has been hitched less than three months [Maiden Voyage]. Go Milton!

Greg & Katherine


Milton’s first drive with the carriage [New Equipment]. Miss Courtney’s picture is over on Instagram, and for the moment on the sidebar. Milton was a star about pulling the heavier load and about entertaining multiple drivers.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Show Report: Alabama Charity Championship 2017

Saddle Seat Wednesday

tldr: Good show. Not great. Needed to be great.
I’m going to Nationals. I don’t expect to win.

I want to win. I will try to win. I will spend the next three weeks preparing to win.

It seems to me that if one wants to win on the national level, one ought to be hitting it out of the park locally. I had a good show, but out of the park I did not hit it. Last year [Show Report], I got a middle ribbon (3/5), won the second class, and was highest placed adult in the championships. This year, middle (2/3), win, highest adult. Still struggling with the double bridle and still struggling to get my shoulders back.

Winning at Nationals would not require a miracle. Come Sunday, I expect to be in the top 3, per usual (acknowledging that all manner of things can happen and that I might not even get past Friday). Taking the top spot would require everything to come together and require a following wind from the judges and the other competitors.

I don’t usually obsess this badly over results. I know there is more to a horse show than winning. I know that all I can control is my ride. In this case, a) the word “national” is in the title, b) I’ve been often enough that learning from the experience is less of a draw, & c) I’ve come so close. Greg thinks I should go and have just fun. That may be the hardest task of all.

Update: Having gotten all of this out of my system, I am feeling more cheerful.

Show Results

Team Awesome
Photo by Courtney Huguley

Alabama Charity Championship Horse Show
October 14, 2017
Celebration Arena
Priceville AL, USA

100. Academy Showmanship WTC, Adult – 2rd of 3
101. Academy Equitation WTC, Adult – 1st of 3
104. Academy WTC Championship – 3rd of 12. Highest placed of 3 adults.
Thank you to Courtney Huguley for the delightful Dottie.

Show Photographer: Terry Young Photography
[List of previous ACCHS posts]


Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Nice Horses and Lesson Programs

In another comment from my return to saddle seat post [And We’re Back, 1st comment post ], buffy bourbon said that I like older Stepping Stone Farm horses because young, nice horses are priced out of lesson programs. (Full quote below.)

I don’t want this to be true.

I will grant the market angle. It was approved of by people who know more of such matters than I. Over my 40 years of horsing, I’ve owned a handful of horses (5 or 6 depending on how one counts Mathilda. She certainly never thought of herself as my horse. But I digress.) I tend to look at horses in a narrow focus, as individuals. I don’t have the wide-angle, market view of someone who buys and sells that many horses in a year.

I will also grant that we all like to ride nice horses. An Olympic aspirant may be more interested in athletic talent than manners, but who wouldn’t take manners AND talent, should such a beast exist?

What I don’t want to be true is that I can only ride forgiving horses. I may be an amateur, but I still want to be the best rider I can be.

One interpretation is that Ms. Bourbon’s comments apply to me and saddle seat horses. I’ve often thought of riding in the saddle seat world as similar to living as a expatriate. You have a good time. You enjoy the people. You might even fantasy shop for an apartment. In your heart, you know you will go home eventually.

I can speak saddle seat, but I am not fluent in it. Not the way I am in whatever bastard combination of eventing/hunter/jumper/dressage is my default riding style. The fact that kids can ride horses I can’t [Show Photo] is on par with children speaking their own language better than an adult can as a second language.

Perhaps cheap, green, and saddle seat is more than I can manage.

May I present an alternate version of your theory? It seems to me that it’s not an “age of horse” that you get along with, but a personality type. You feel comfortable on the more forgiving horses. Most of us do, that’s not a weakness just a fact. The age thing comes in because of price point. A young, talented, forgiving horse just doesn’t make it into the lesson string very often, because an amateur is going to pay more for that horse than a training barn can afford to pay. Eventually, that horse ages up and the amateur wants something else and that’s how the older versions make it into lesson strings. So, I submit that you want to ride the same sort of horse that most of us want to ride… but you’re riding on the Stepping Stone budget which means some older horses.

This is not the first time I have cited a comment by Ms. Bourbon [Patterns, Clean Cups!] Clearly, a friend I have not yet met. Would it be considered stalking if I flew out to a show to cheer on a stranger?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Whizzing About

Driving Thursday

Photo by Courtney Huguley

When I – possibly, maybe – go to Murfreesboro next month, I will also be driving. Why not? No one else from Stepping Stone Farm is driving and Mr. Whizbang [Show Photos I, II] will already be there with his junior riders.

Strangely, this doesn’t stress me out. At least nowhere close to the level that riding does. I have no agenda for driving. Go in. See if I can find an extended trot [Show Report]. Whatever happens, happens. Obviously, if I could have this attitude toward sitting on the horse, I – and everyone within stressing distance of me – would be happier.

Therefore, I climbed back in a cart last week. As far as I can count, I hadn’t driven since the Mid-South show in May. (Okay, I sat in the cart with Milton [The Family That Drives Together], but that was proof of concept, not serious driving. Bear on a bicycle.) That’s four months. It went great. No, I’ll say it outright, I did great. Best driving I’ve done.

All the time I have spent watching Greg and Milton, plus four days immersed in driving in Indiana [Show Report] appears to have rubbed off on me. Hitch. Get in. Drive. Yeah, sure. I got this. My technical ability hadn’t changed. Improved attitude meant better application of technique. Yes, the continued parallel to riding is not lost on me. Sigh.

Learning by osmosis, who knew.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

And We’re Back

Saddle Seat Wednesday

I’m going to Nationals.

What? I didn’t catch that.

I said, I’m going to Nationals.

Hey, that’s great. Good luck. I’m sure you’ll do …

Shh! Shh! Shh! I’m trying to keep it low-key. The tentative plan is Murfreesboro in November, but I reserve the right to bail at any point. With no disrespect to the folks at AA, One ride at a time.

The last day for entries was one of the Saturdays Milton was at SSF. The deadline had been extended due to Irma. I brought the subject up just to confirm that it wasn’t happening this year. I hadn’t had a lesson in months. Nationals had fallen off the radar and wandered out of the control tower.

Not necessarily. One of the new horses is Dottie, an 18-year old ASB who has spent her life being a champion kid’s horse. She’s won in the big-time at the 13&Under level. She is talented enough to be fancy, yet old enough to be steady. She’s great at taking care of her young riders. Since my mental age around the barn at the moment is 12 or less, she’s a wonderful horse for me right now.

I don’t like that I need an emotional support horse. But I do & she’s here. So, I’m trying to be okay with my good fortune. I will try not to get caught in the tailspin that is the inside of my head.

Thoughts Not To Have
(Obviously, I can’t let go of them completely. I feel the need to include them here. Maybe pinning them down will help me purge them.)

Why do I get on better with the older ASBs – Dottie, Sam, Willie, Alvin, Big – rather than the younger – Desi, Lola? Why is that? What does it say about me as a rider? Am I such a weak rider that I can only ride well-educated school horses?

Why am I a such hot mess about riding? Why am I like this? How can I fix it?

Riding Dottie does not address, much less answer, my underlying issues. I’ve simply lucked into a very nice horse who fits within the narrow parameters of what I can cope with.

Sometimes it’s hard to accept when things go well. Why is that?

Thought To Put In Place Of The Above
Go Dottie!

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton Meets Butt Brakes

Driving Thursday

Stepping Out

Aside from the gorgeous horse and handsome driver, the significant part of this picture is the strap in the back.

When going downhill, the breeching keeps the cart from running up on the horse. Saddlebred harness does not have this. They do not expect to be going up hill and down dale. If breech-less harness goes downhill, say into the ring at Louisville, a person hangs onto the back of the cart to perform the same function. Biggest show of the ASB year and you have drag your help into the ring. But I digress.

Saturday: lesson with breeching. Sunday: schooling, hitching ourselves for the third time, breeching. Afterwards, Greg walked down the short but steep hill that exits the ring and took a few circles in the driveway and on the grass.

Downhill turned out to be the easy part. The uphill caused Milton to ride the struggle bus. To get up a short, gentle grade, Milton dug in like a draft horse dragging the championship weight at a pulling contest. Overdone, yes. First time he’s had pull on his chest. Not up to us to say how it felt.

First breeching. First terrain. First time out of the ring.

Progress. Progress. Progress.
Well …

Progress far as driving is concerned. Riding, not so much. Milton could be excused for getting upset at a strap goosing him in the butt. Not a bit. We put various driving paraphernalia on him, he considers it, says okay. I put riding paraphernalia on him, here’s what happens:

During his all-terrain adventure on Sunday, a low branch brushed the harness. This is exactly what happened with the saddle. Did he mind the branch pulling on the harness? OF COURSE NOT.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott