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"But what discipline do you teach?"

I'm often asked "but what if I ride English?" or told "well I only have a Western saddle..." Let me be clear that the discipline you ride does not matter to me.

My journey with horses started in 4-H when I was 8 years old and I remember being so excited when I saw the sign up sheets for the local Fair because they had almost every discipline under the sun listed. And for me, that meant more opportunities for me to show off with my horse and compete. I'm talking barrel racing, jumping, showmanship, trail class, bareback... I wanted to do it all with my horse. And thanks to my parents for putting me in solid riding lessons with a great foundation, I was able to do all of the disciplines well.

That mentality carried into my High School years when I was on the school's equestrian team. There were the typical disciplines such as English, Western and Bareback, but then there was Saddleseat and Saddleseat pattern. To me that was just a Dressage test but in different gear. So in my Eq Team career I did not do the English classes, but instead Dane and I did the Saddleseat classes, and we kicked butt. (And I loved the outfits too!)

I love being able to use any kind of tack on my horse and have a successful ride. Whether it be my 15 year old Dressage saddle, or my newer Lady Wade Western saddle. My horse doesn't operate differently with different tack because he and I have created a solid foundation regardless of equipment. And let me point out as well, that the age of your equipment is not the most important thing either. It's easy to become self conscious of how new or fancy our tack is, especially when riding in a large group such as a clinic. But I have audited clinics where tack ranges from brand new to decades old, and let me tell you...the amount of silver or embossing you have on your saddles does not dictate the quality of the ride you are about to have. What matters is the amount of time you have put in to get to that point and also how well you take care of your gear.

I believe that true horsemanship can be ridden in an English saddle or a Western saddle. There are some things such as starting a colt that need to be done with a Western saddle, but the ridden foundation work can be done in any saddle. I've been to a large clinic (30+ participants) where I was the only one in a Dressage saddle, Dressage bridle and breeches. At that time, I didn't have my Lady Wade western saddle yet, but I still wanted to ride in the clinic. So I did. And I smiled at the people in the audience giving weird glances at me as I rode by them, because...what else could I do? I showed up to ride, so that's what I did.

When I started my business I knew I wanted to include all disciplines in my work because that's what I grew up doing, and that's also what I did when performing with Cavalia. My Dressage horse (Drago), was also my jumping horse. My roman riding horse was also my liberty horse. And I was better off for that because I had such a solid relationship with those horses no matter what discipline we were doing.

If you can takeaway anything from this, I would say try to be open minded when it comes to different disciplines. Don't prejudge someone when you see their tack, and don't be afraid to try a different discipline with your own horse.



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