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Canter Progress and a Big Girl Pattern

Woah, what is that canter?! I will never forget the day I tried Harley. Not because of her beautiful head carriage, or her crazy high motion, or even her elegant conformation, but because of her insane canter. I tried her in a snaffle bridle with one rein and a martingale and only cantered down one rail. It was a struggle to get her into the gait, and once I finally did, I had no idea what I was about to deal with. Her canter was crazy fast, long-strided, lofty, and about impossible to sit. I think I was only in the saddle 20% of the time. She was swapping leads about every stride or two and couldn’t seem to go straight if her life depended on it. She didn’t understand leg, vocal cues, or what my hands and seat were doing to attempt to slow it down. By the time I got around the corner, she fell out of the canter, so we just decided to not try it again.

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Loving the Journey

Photo by Julia Louw.

Many equitation riders want to ride those equitation horses who know their jobs and allow you to concentrate on yourself and your form. My name is Alivia Garwood, and while I understand the desire, as an equitation rider, I do not want that at all.

I have been riding Saddlebreds for six years and I’ve shown in equitation for three years. This season will be my fourth in equitation and my first in the saddle seat equitation division. For the past several years I competed in pleasure equitation on my previous horse RWC CH TSV The Mystery Continues, but I called him Goliath. Goliath was not equitated when we bought him, but he knew the basics, so it took us no time to fully equitate him. In our second season showing together, we Triple Crowned in 13 & Under Pleasure Equitation and he earned his “CH” title. After showing Goliath for my entire equitation career, I made the difficult decision to sell him and search for a new challenge. I found that new challenge – a three-year-old who knew absolutely nothing – at Rose Stables in Shelbyville, Kentucky last December. Her name is RWC New Line’s Captain Marvel, but I call her Harley. I tried her in a work bridle and didn’t even canter, but we saw the potential in her and decided to take the jump and buy her with the intention of equitating her and showing her in saddle seat equitation.

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I Love Promoting the Breed, but Sometimes I’m Tired

144Photo by Julia Shelburne-HittiI’ve been an equestrian all my life; I literally don’t remember a time when I didn’t ride horses, and except for a couple pony rides on a Quarter Horse when I was 2 years old and a semester of western and hunt seat during college, it’s always been saddle seat and Saddlebreds. This means that I’ve spent my entire remembered life trying to explain the saddle seat discipline to others ­– both horse people and non-horse people. And let me tell you … sometimes … I’m tired.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sharing the joy of horses and my chosen breed and discipline with others. I’ve experienced firsthand the blessings they can bring to someone’s life; I want everyone to know it, and I like to think that I’ve done a fair amount throughout my life to make that happen. But after 30 plus years of trying, sometimes, when it comes to one-on-one encounters, I find myself wanting to disengage from the casual conversation rather than plowing forward into the same old tedium, and I have to ask myself why.

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If You Buy A Show Horse Just To Show, You’re Missing The Point

This past October we had the opportunity to purchase a horse that we hoped would provide new challenges and moments of joy for our daughter. We looked forward to the 2020 show season with anticipation and excitement and were fortunate to watch as our daughter entered a Park class for the very first time with a longtime friend joining her in the ring and showing for the same barn. It was all we could have hoped for ... until it wasn’t.

On the heels of that fun-filled horse show weekend came the COVID-19 pandemic, and everything came to a screeching halt for us, as it did for most people. Barn Days were cancelled, and we all sat stunned as show after show disappeared before our eyes. While there are clearly larger concerns than missing Barn Days or horse shows, it is still difficult to lose things that bring so much joy to our lives.

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Quentin Riding Club Remembered

Cassi Wentz, Allie Layos and Katy (Layos) Anderson enjoying the Quentin playground in the early '90s.The Quentin Riding Club was sold on Saturday July 13, and though the end had been teetering on the edge of our sight for years, still I can hardly believe it. The loss of any equestrian facility is a real blow to the show horse community, and Quentin was a mainstay for equestrians in the Northeast. It hosted countless events each season, and since it originated as a Hackney farm, it had a particular propensity toward saddle seat show breeds. The Quentin logo even included a Hackney.

For a while, I tried not to think about the loss of Quentin, but when I finally let myself, I found that I had a hard time explaining to others why it saddened me so much. Yes, I left Pennsylvania when I was 18 and have been back precious few times since. I attend horse shows at a dozen different venues each year. But, while it may have sold at auction for $2.1 million two weeks ago, to myself and many others who grew up there, the Quentin Riding Club was priceless.

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