Rebecca Agocs is currently pursuing her judges card with the North Carolina Hunter Jumper Association and will begin officiating horse shows in 2018.
Equitation is all about finding great riders. It’s not really that different of a sport from the hunters, or even the jumpers. Instead, it’s a step that helps promote every day good riding and a solid position. Dressage, eventing, and even trail riding all require good equitation as well.
Great riders help their horses move and jump well with a classic position: heels down, base of position is centered and with the motion of the horse, legs at the proper angles, upper body in balance with the horse’s motion.
You can help your horse go well regardless of his purchase price.
What should a correct equitation round look like?
– The horse moves from behind
– The horse stays with the rider
– Light off the aids, and a pleasant happy demeanor or look to the face
– Pushing well off of the ground, legs coming up under him every stride
– Light off inside aids, quick to move from them
– In the corners, he’s not over bent, he’s not leaning too hard on the inside leg or locking on the inside rein.
– He’s relaxed, and bent around the turns. The rider should feel a lightness in her aids.
To the jumps:
– Position has personal style added to it, but still remains classic
– The rider chooses her distances with minimal aids needed
– Horse moves at forward but balanced pace towards the jump
– He’s carrying his rider – she doesn’t have to pull or push him to make her distances
– Both have relaxed facial expressions
In the air:
– Rider’s hands release the horse’s mouth and they follow the horse’s head and contact with an appropriate release
– On landing, horse and rider are centered and balanced with a secure position that look effortless
– Horse and rider move together
– Jumping style is a factor, even in equitation
– Pace for the entire course is smooth
– In a forward line, the horse’s pace should be set before the line begins so the rider doesn’t make adjustments between the fences of the line
– In a collected line, the rider collects the horse earlier to make the short distance work
Signs of poor equitation:
– Unhappy facial expressions
– Horse isn’t forward on the flat, is clearly anxious or frustrated, or they’re heavy their inside aids
– Over jumps he’s inverted or his jump has no arc over the fence
Equitation means you need to ride the particular horse to its strengths, faults, weaknesses, limitations, and abilities. Adjust your riding accordingly! I know it sounds a lot like horsemanship, but that’s because it is.