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One year later - Miles at 2015 New Vocations

Pony’Tude Blog Hop: Equitation Evolution

Allison over at Pony’Tude started a fun blog hop about how your equitation has evolved over the years. I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts and looking at all the photos, but I have to admit I was nervous to do my own. I’ve never had good equitation, especially over fences and I have absolutely no natural riding talent. So honestly, a lot of my photos are way worse than everyone else’s. My “ending” point, or where I’m at today, is the place many other bloggers seemed to have started. But you know what? I’m okay with that. I’m working hard to improve and that’s what matters most. For me, it’s not about how correct I am, it’s about how far I’ve come.

Way back in the beginning of time, the very first horse I rode with any frequency was Maggie circa 1998. And my equitation sucked even then. Okay, I’m relaxing in the photo below, but WOW are my stirrups short. At least both horse and rider look happy!


I started showing and riding more frequently a few years later, around 2000. I rode a cute little Welsh Pony named Jazz, who expertly navigated me through my first year in 4-H. At least I figured out how to lower my stirrups to a more appropriate height by then! There are some things I actually like in this photo (although, that’s probably because of the timing of the photo), but I do wish I had more weight through my heels and my hands were a bit up off the pony’s neck.


A year later I moved up to a horse named Chuck. And Chuck was awesome — a complete and total saint — and we had a lot of fun together. But in terms of equitation, I was definitely a trainwreck, especially over fences. In fact, I think the only good thing I see in the photo below is that my heel is down. No really… I think that’s the ONLY good thing I see. Eek, I am cringing looking at this photo :-/

Jumping Chuck circa 2001

After a year with Chuck, I leased a very special pony. He was adopted by the barn owner, and my best guess is he was some type of Morgan cross. He was blind in one eye and aggressive on the ground; like bite your arm off aggressive. He was awesome under saddle though, and I leased him for about three years. He put up with a lot, including a foray into saddleseat. In terms of my equitation, I’m pretty sure at this point I’m showing ya’ll the DEVOLUTION of it. Awesome sauce.

Charlie Jump July 2004

After a few years with Charlie, it became very evident that I’d accomplished all that I could with him. Morgans don’t do especially well in 4-H, where stock-type horses dominate. I also wanted to get into more of a lesson program (THANK GOD), so I went in search of purchasing my very first horse. How I actually convinced my parents to do this, I will never know. But that’s how Visa came into the picture. Visa became mine on December 13, 2004 and I owned him until the day he died on April 17, 2012. There’s so much I could say about this amazing horse, but he truly made me the horsewoman and equestrian I am today.

Visa at Chagrin 2007

Look! By 2007 I learned to equitation on the flat. My leg is so much stronger, I’m stretching up more, and ya know, not making things 200x more difficult for my horse. Huzzah! This picture definitely proves the difference a lesson program makes… not that anyone reading this blog didn’t already know that.

Visa Jump at Geauga County Fair 2006

While there are still faults in this photo (circa 2006, I believe), there’s also so much improvement. I have a more solid base of support, I’ve learned to actually close my hip angle and release! Thank goodness not all of my equitation is super scary.

From about 2008-2010 I took a break from riding, while in college. I showed briefly in IHSA, but I didn’t really enjoy most of it and never stuck with it. I honestly don’t even think I have any pictures from any of the shows I went to. In 2010, Visa got hurt and while he recovered for a brief period of time, it didn’t last long. After he passed, I started riding with my current Trainer, and spent 2012 and 2013 (plus most of 2014) showing her gelding, Vinnie.  The photo below is from June 2014, and while it’s not pretty by any means, I am still proud of it.

Vinnie Limit Hunter June 2014

My return to a lesson program and showing was difficult. I’d changed a lot mentally and physically since 2006-2007, plus not having my partner in crime with me anymore made things tough. But I worked hard and I did improve. While the photo above seems worse than the ones with Visa, I know I’m riding a much more difficult horse and learned so much about riding correctly. So while my equitation again took a hit for the worse, I do believe that my overall horsemanship and riding improved.

Diamond Girl

I also got the chance to ride Diamond, another one of my Trainer’s horses. I don’t have many pictures of her because I rode her during one winter and when I attempted to show her it did NOT go well and we actually never even got in the ring. She’s a wonderful, talented horse, but just way too much for me. But I still love this photo 🙂

Miles Trot Under Saddle Sept 2013

And then on Sept. 13, 2014 I bought this hunk <3 This was the first week Miles was home, officially mine. It’s funny how much this flat picture looks like the one I have of Visa above. I’ve FINALLY returned to where I was almost 7 years prior. I’m definitely hunched over through the shoulders, but at least I’m looking forward, staying light in my seat and have my leg on. Small victories, people!

New Vocations Hunter Jumper Show Miles 2-6 Single

This photo is from July 2014, our first round at 2’6″. I love my release, and how I’m looking up. I’m breaking over at the hip a lot more, but my leg has slipped back a lot. This photo is also eerily similar to the one I have of Visa above in 2006. Freaky.

One year later - Miles at 2015 New Vocations

One year later to the day, this is from the same horse show in July 2015. I freaking love this picture because I am come SO FAR. My hip angle is better than ever, my back is flat and my release is on point. My leg isn’t 100% stable, but it has improved a lot.

It’s definitely pretty embarrassing to show a lot of this photos to ya’ll. I spent a really long time sucking and doing everything wrong. And even now, I’m still really far away from being correct. But I am proud of how hard I’ve worked to improve — and there’s been a lot of improvement! I’ve never been shy about my past, or how … erhm… not great my riding was and still is. Dwelling on the past, especially past mistakes, doesn’t get my anywhere. Seeing the progress I’ve made and focusing on that motivates me to keep working, keep trying.


Fly On Over is an equestrian lifestyle blog devoted to connecting horse lovers around the world. By providing equestrians with practical tips and tricks related to horse ownership, discussing training techniques for horse and rider, as well as covering industry news.

19 thoughts to “Pony’Tude Blog Hop: Equitation Evolution”

  1. Ok… first of all, that photo from 1998…. That’s the year I graduated HIGH SCHOOL! I’m so old! But this isn’t about me…
    You’re so hard on yourself! I think you look great! And that photo with Vinnie really isn’t bad like you think. It was taken too late so it’s just awkward in that you’re about to land. If it was taken a split second earlier, you’d be amazed at how different you look!
    I love all your photos with Miles (and with Visa!). You can see how much more confident you are on your own steed.
    Lastly, that welsh pony is SO CUTE! Can I find her and keep her?

  2. Girl, we ALL have some super sketchy equitation photos floating around! You are definitely not the worst. And you’ve ridden so many cute horses, which counts for something. 😛

    You and Miles are a good looking pair for sure!

  3. I’m quite ok with the fact that most photos of my childhood riding adventures are buried in old non-digital albums. I had a good time, even if I sucked completely. 😉

    You and Miles make such a great team! 🙂 Fingers crossed you’re back to work soon.

  4. Aw, I love this post! I wouldn’t be embarrassed about any of these photos. I’d be proud. They show how hard of a worker you are, and how seriously you take riding and horse ownership. That’s pretty awesome!

  5. Thank you for sharing these photos! You have nothing to be ashamed of and a lot to be proud of! You obviously show a major commitment to bettering yourself, and have the photos to back it up! This makes me want to dig out my musty old non-digital photos so we can all have a good laugh. Oh and for what it’s worth, in 1998 I was a semester away from graduating COLLEGE. How’s that for old? ;P

  6. You’ve ridden some cute horses. It’s interesting to see have you have changed over the years. Don’t be so hard on yourself; I can see the improvement in the photos.

  7. Trust me I have lots of wtf eq photos. You gotta remember sometimes there were awesome rides and no camera. I think even in pics you can see how comfortable you are with Miles.

  8. You have nothing to ashamed of. We’ve all been there. Hell I had a few of those wtf moments at the show last Sunday. Good eq is not a static thing it’s a constant work in progress.

  9. Girl we are all a work in progress.. don’t be so hard on yourself!!

    People don’t get why we riders keep taking lessons but shoot we are dealing with a live animal for crying out loud!

  10. You are singing my song, sister! It is definitely an INDIVIDUAL journey. I can’t worry about where I am against everyone else. If I did that, I’d quit completely. On another topic … you make me feel so damn old!!! I was a full blown, working adult when you started riding in 1998. Sheesh! :0)

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