Equitation Evolution

Equitation Evolution

Alilson at Pony’Tude had a great post the other day when she posted a series of equitation photos showing her progress as a rider. Even in the early “bad” shots, I was pretty impressed.

See, riding did not come naturally to me. I figured that because I read every horse book known to mankind by age nine, I would just be a natural. I thought I would speak horse! I thought I was destined to win blue ribbons at my very first show.

In reality, the first time I went to a horse farm for lessons I walked up to the tape electric fence and grabbed it with both hands. Not. Even. Joking.

This is background to say that riding has been a struggle for me. Equitation? Even more so.

Early days learning to jump on my first horse were spotty at best.




I’m sure you’re all shocked to hear that partnership did not work out long term. With Elvis, my second horse and saintly creature, I was the one “teaching” him to jump since he came from a western background. Since I am no George Morris, that lead to some interesting choices… like being REALLY SURE to release so I wouldn’t catch him in the mouth.


There was that time we moved to the “real” hunter/jumper barn in college, and showed up with my stirrups about 8 holes too long and having forgot my diagonals.



At that barn, I did a lot of jumping on my own. While having constant practice (I did take lessons too) doing courses helped my overall security, it did not solve my friends “bracing at the knee” and “flinging lower leg.”





When that started getting a little bit better, I learned that a true hunter is one that takes a nap on the neck. To be fair, Elvis jumped with cute bascule so there was a very comfy spot to lay on!


Eventually, we did get a little bit better…


And then moved to a different hunter barn where the very proper, very serious trainers found some -ahem- issues with my riding choices.


But we trained a lot, and things got better.



Then I sold my horses and moved to MA for two years of little to no riding. When I started back up in Texas, some old habits followed me here.



And jump ahead with no lower leg support!



But we started working on it.


There was that one special show where I decided I would try an auto release out of the blue for the hell of it… and I did not succeed.


Eventually, I learned to break at the hip (more) properly. My leg grew more solid. My release contained itself.



Things started coming together.



Though I don’t consider myself an equitation rider by any means, I don’t feel like I’ll get laughed out of the equitation ring now. Sure, my position has a lot to improve on and we’re not exactly a winning eq pair… but there has been lots of progress since I stuck my hands on the electric fence 20 years ago.


31 thoughts on “Equitation Evolution

    1. After the beloved horse I learned to ride on died with a grand total of less than 10 pictures, I have made a point to over document all the animals (and people) in my life. You can NEVER have too many photos!

  1. Three things:
    1) I totally still have been known to grab electric fence. Apparently I’m hoping electroshock therapy works. So far, no dice.
    2) Elvis is the bestest.
    3) You’ve come so far! There’s a lot to be proud of here!

  2. Elvis is so freaking cute!! And over-releasing isn’t like, the WORST thing that could happen! I’m sure your horses appreciated not being hit in the mouth. 😉

  3. I love this post! Look how far you’ve come. And I love, LOVE, LOOOOOVE all of your horses over the years!
    Separately, everyone told me I should get an electric fence when I was importing my stallion. I thought about it for about a second and decided that I would be so very likely to electrocute myself, that it would not in fact be a necessity for us. Thankfully, my stud was very respectful of fences and it was never an issue.

  4. You are pretty much kick ass now. I hope you know that. Also, my experience with electric tape was to try and climb through a cow pen, and woke up with a big bull standing over me. Sigh.

  5. Oh man. The release thing. I totally do that. Just hurl hands forward and completely disregard the rest of my body. I actually do this because I cannot convince myself to bend at the hips because my back protests that movement. It’s a physical barrier I know I need to get over as I used to have good form over jumps. One day…

  6. love all these pictures – and it makes me really wish i had more old pics of me jumping too haha. it’s really cool how you can see the position as you developed more strength and stability in the saddle. also Elvis is so stinkin adorable!

  7. Your lower leg really worked its way down properly. It’s amazing how much core strength affects even our leg position. Elvis was cute as is yr current boy. As to release, every horse is a little different which makes it hard. Some of the horses I leased were pissed if you even slightly bumped them, while Holly likes a fair amount of contact. And I agree, never too many photos…as long as you can afford to keep buying hard drives 😉

    1. Also, I read the paragraph about grabbing the tape out loud to Amanda and she nearly drove us off the road in horror. (Not really.) (Maybe a little really.)

  8. Loved seeing the pictures. You have improved so much and have had a special relationship with all your horses. I’ll have to look for a Doodles photo!

  9. I am envious of your release in every picture, whether you are happy with them or not. The day I convince my arms that the world will not end without a death grip on the reins over a jump will be a happy day. Until then….. I will practice over cavaletti!

    Seriously though, kudos to you.

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