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 :-/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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!
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 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.