By Cassie Sherwood
Razmitaz and I have been a team for six years now. She’s an unusual and talented combination of warmblood and quarter horse, and although she may not look like a fancy horse, she can really move. Equitation classes are one of my favorite events and have multiple benefits in my mind. The first is the opportunity to ride in a class (especially if you don’t have the fanciest horse) where you focus on your seat and on how your riding affects the horse. Second, as I have gone up the levels, I’ve realized how important my equitation is to the success of my partnership with Raz. When Raz is feeling lazy, she likes to trick me into “helping” her by moving my body, but I’ve come to realize that I need to hold my position. Additionally, as we moved into the tempi changes, my ability to sit in the center and be clear with my aids has become essential. And finally, at the end of the class, you often get to talk to the judges and get direct feedback from them, which has made me realize that judges are people who really want to help us improve and are not so scary.
I learned the most basic riding skills in 4-H and by riding up and down the dry Arizona washes, usually bareback, as fast as I could. Looking back, it was an important education. It gave me a great seat, taught me to work hard, to focus on what I could control, and to have fun. Plus, it gave me a first-rate work ethic, which I think every adult amateur has. These are all skills you need to be successful in Adult Equitation. It’s fun, and I always encourage everyone to do the class. No matter what your score is, you always win!
USDF offers a variety of equitation programs, including the USDF Regional Adult Amateur Equitation Program. This program recognizes adult amateurs competing in equitation and promotes correct seat, position, and use of the aids in dressage. Adult Amateurs wishing to qualify to compete in an Adult Amateur Equitation Regional Final presented by Big Dee’s may qualify to do so by earning a 70%, or higher in any Dressage Seat Equitation class (except walk-trot) or by qualifying for the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships (freestyles exempt). For full details, visit the USDF website.