Equitation Evaluation

Blog Post #3

If Saddle Seat is your passion then you know that having the correct equitation is everything. By having the proper manners, you and your horse will be able to maneuver better and have more success on the judges card. In Horse Illustrated, Leslie Potter talks with champion and trainer, Ellen Beard, about proper positioning and why it will stand out better in the show pen. 

Ellen starts off by commenting on the correctness of your legs and feet. An easy way to remember your place is to pretend there is a string connected from your foot to your hip and then to your shoulder. Another notable statement from Ellen is to not rely on your stirrups but to ride with every bit of your legs and the momentum of the horse. 

Now onto those hands. They should have contact with the horse’s mouth, however, there shouldn’t be any unnecessary tension or pulling. Ellen quotes, “Your position is only as good as it communicates to your horse. A direct line from your snaffle bit to your elbow is the most efficient line of communication” (Horse Illustrated). So the big thing to think about is the straightness of your lines, whether that’s with your hands or body posture with your legs. 

From my personal Saddleseat experience this can be a very fun class where you look and perform in a proper manner while being flashy and elegant. Here are my top three personal tips to saddleseat equitation:

  1. “Rise and fall with the leg on the wall.” The standard phrase when determining your diagonal. It’s simple and easy to remember.
  2. Don’t bend your wrists. Most riders will want to bend them down or forward. Your hands should remain parallel with your forearm with your thumbs flat and pointing towards the horse’s head. 
  3. My mother always told me to smile. Even when my horse wasn’t cooperating the judge will know that you’re trying to keep it together rather than acting out. This can show character to the judge and show that you’re being a good horseman or woman. 

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