By Terri Sue Wensinger
My equitation journey began in the 1970s, when I competed in hunt seat, saddle seat, and stock seat equitation classes on Arabian horses. In 1978, I was fortunate to win the US Stock Seat Equitation National Championship on my horse Ballendrad, in Louisville, KY, and the Canadian Saddle Seat Equitation Championship in Vancouver, on a leased horse we called Spider (don’t recall his real name). Life was good!
Then, came college. My parents divorced, horses were sold, and figuring out how to grow up became my priority. Not fun! Finished college, went to law school, married a great guy, raised three sons, started a company, worked hard, and didn’t think of horses. Life was good!
Then, one day, I bumped into an acquaintance rocking riding breeches and boots. She shared that a group of working women took riding lessons from Becky Brown at 8AM every Friday morning , then arrived at the office a bit late, taking full advantage of “casual Fridays”. At that point, my boys were in high school and my work had become more flexible, so I joined the class. We rode in flat saddles and the focus rotated weekly between jumping, quadrille, and dressage. I loved the class and it wasn’t long before I signed up for the Wednesday class too. Life was good!
We all know how equine addiction takes hold. Within six months, I had purchased a horse and begun competing in dressage. That was ten years, three medals, thousands of hours in the saddle, and five horses ago. As an adult amateur, my equitation background has served me well.
Last year, I purchased an 18-year-old Grand Prix school master, Asterios. Asti has competed in 65 Grand Prix classes and knows that test as well as Steffen Peters. So, when I read about the adult equitation class, I was all in. Relive my youth and show Asti something new in the ring? Perfect plan!
Our first adult equitation class was in Tyler, TX, last spring. I was the only competitor. The judge took her time and put me through paces and patterns for fifteen minutes. She then talked to me about what I was doing well and where we could improve. It was terrific for me, but rumor is that the riders in the warm up were not pleased. Apparently, we put the ring behind schedule.
Our second adult equitation class was last summer in Del Mar, CA. In that class, I believe there were six competitors. We rode on the rail in walk, trot, and canter, then proceeded with individual patterns. I loved steering around other horses to find a clear spot on the rail. It was terrific for Asti to stand among other horses in an arena, for something other than an awards ceremony. Lots of folks watched because they didn’t know what an adult equitation class was and were curious.
Finally, there was the Regional Adult Amateur Equitation Finals in Katy, TX, held in conjunction with the Great American/USDF Region 9 Championships. The equitation finals class was open to all adult amateurs who had qualified for regionals. To my surprise, there were at least 20 riders who entered. I had worried that this class was to happen on the tail of Asti and my Grand Prix championship. I should not have worried. Asti scored a 67.7 (my personal best) at Grand Prix and was hotter than a pistol in the equitation class. It was so fun to feel him strut his stuff with the other horses. Neither of us could wipe the smile from our faces. The field was reduced to six for the pattern work, and Asti carried me to the win. Life is good!