Saddleseat equitation has always been one of my favorite classes to watch at horse shows – especially at the national level. I often find myself tearing up when the national champion is announced and half of the time I don’t even know them! Equitation riders at the highest level of competition make it look like a piece of cake, when behind the scenes it has taken years of diligent practice and hard work to get there. This is an intense discipline and when done correctly, is poetry in motion.
Elaina Roeder, Isabella Templeton and Raven Gropp, all of Vicki Humphrey Training Center, had tremendous success in their classes at the 2016 Scottsdale Show and looked beautiful in Show Season while they were at it. I decided to ask these ladies about their love of the sport and if they have any secrets to their success.
SS: What is your favorite thing about equitation?
Elaina: Equitation is incredibly intense and challenging. It is the most rewarding when all of your hard work and practice has paid off with a good ride.
Isabella: I like the challenge of equitation and the precision that it takes to really nail a pattern. Plus, you establish a great bond with your horse.
Raven: My favorite thing about equitation would have to be getting dressed up in a formal after 6 o’clock. I also enjoy getting to pick your own music for your pattern. Since I compete in four different styles of equitation I have a lot of music to pick for each horse.
SS: Do you have any pre-class rituals for good luck?
Elaina: I like to be by myself and focus on my pattern. I visualize my ideal ride and what I feel will be most difficult for my horse and me.
Isabella: My pre-class ritual consists of listening to music. I start with some classical music to chill and relax. When we are getting close to heading up to the ring, I change it to something that pumps me up.
Raven: No. The more I can keep my mind off of the class the better. I’m not one to get dressed 2 hours before my class. When my horse is getting ready is when I start, that way we finish at the same time and head up to the ring together.
SS: What has equitation taught you that you can apply to real life?
Elaina: Equitation is a team sport between the rider and the horse. It is unpredictable and sometimes things don’t happen as you expect. As a person you have to keep pushing through your struggles and enjoy your successes.
Isabella: It has taught me so many things. Especially how to think quickly on my feet. Patterns will rarely go as perfectly as you planned them in your head, but you can’t just quit when it doesn’t go your way. You have to keep going, and that is exactly what you have to do in real life.
Raven: Equitation has taught me that if you work hard, you will be rewarded. It just takes a lot of hard work and patience.
It was great to get to know these ladies and learn more about their preparation for success in the show ring. We wish you all the best of luck in 2016!