I have dabbled in trying a lot of things and pretty much haven't mastered any of it.
One thing I haven't really tried was saddleseat. I have ridden in a cutback saddle a couple of times, including once on my grandmother's horse who took off on me while I was wearing jeans and sneakers. I was twelve so I thought that was pretty cool.
Last week, I went out to a local farm to take some photos of some horses at the request of the trainer. He has a lot of breeds on the property, but I would say he is best known for training Dutch Harness Horses, American Dutch Harness Horses, Hackneys, and Saddlebreds.
The trainer asked if I wanted to hop on and ride and I said yes of course! My steed was Jeronimo, a very handsome black Dutch Harness Horse stallion with just the right amount of chrome. He was pretty lazy at the trot in the indoor arena, despite having a couple of days off. We went outdoors and once again, he was pretty lazy. I was trying to figure out how to ride a horse whose neck is entirely vertical. I'm pretty sure I was told to shorten the reins and put my hands up approximately 827 times. Apparently I just don't learn that quickly. Probably why I haven't mastered anything yet. ;)
The trainer was hunting around and finally found a dressage whip he was looking for. It was a pretty remarkable transformation that just by holding the whip, the pretty boy puffed himself up and went into a somewhat respectable big saddleseat type trot. He also magically was able to move off of leg and stopped being in "child's pony" mode.
Another thing that I had to adapt to besides the long neck, short reins, and his way of going was the encouragement of vocal cues. Whip and a little bit of clucking and he was a fun ride indeed. Quite comfortable to ride, very responsive in a simple snaffle, and a very different, but steady contact in the bridle.
While quite out of my routine normal, it was a very enjoyable experience.
I also enjoyed photographing the handful of horses on the property that evening including a phenomenal roadster Hackney Pony, a couple of girls and their horses they ride there, and a very young, high trotting Dutch Harness Horse foal.
My cup of joy was certainly full from this adventure. I'm glad I didn't turn down the chance to ride simply because among many of my friends, saddleseat just has the perception of hot, crazy horses and horses that aren't schooled to the leg or bridle. What I found here was pretty much the opposite. A good learning opportunity indeed.