In less than two weeks Pip and I will leave the familiarity of the Pacific Northwest and travel with a group of other horses and riders from our region to Magnolia, Texas to compete in the Intermediate division at Haras Cup Working Equitation Championships. Check it out:
It’s safe to say that Pip and I are new to this working equitation business–we’ve only competed once over the summer in a local schooling show. However, this trip will be an incredible learning opportunity for us, a fun vacation, and hopefully a successful competition!
Our trip will come with many firsts. It will be Pip’s first time traveling for multiple days in a row. It will be his first time being body clipped (his Alpine winter hair is coming in in full force, which unfortunately would prove smothering in the Texas temperatures). It will be our first time visiting the South!
Even though we don’t have formal training in the rules, expectations, and traditions of working equitation, what attracts me to it is how it tests the “working” partnership between horse and rider–something Pip and I have spent the past 15 years developing together. The sport consists of three distinct phases that require you to perform dressage, navigate obstacles, and ride at speed. Each phase is challenging and calls upon horse and rider to work together with harmony, obedience, and if possible, a little pizazz. We’ve been practicing!
I believe in Pip, but I’m definitely a little nervous about remembering all the rules and requirements to avoid disqualification—disqualification happens frequently from what I’ve seen (you can get disqualified for anything from forgetting to salute the judge, using the wrong hand at an obstacle, or crossing your tracks). We’ve also been continuing to develop Pip’s canter, which is the compulsory gait for working equitation but Pippin’s weakest. And, I’m trying to psychologically convince myself “it’s just another show”, so that we don’t put too much pressure on ourselves at the expense of having fun. This truly is my big vacation for the year–an opportunity to leave the desk behind for two weeks and spend time with my pony.
Without question the only reason I’m able to make this trip (which as you can imagine is expensive and logistically challenging) is thanks to Julie Alonzo. Julie breeds Lusitanos and Andalusians (the traditional breeds of working equitation) in Euguene, OR and continuously fuels the working equitation scene in the northwest region. She’s extremely passionate about the sport and generous with her knowledge. Though I’ve only met her twice, she has offered to let Pip and I ride to Texas and back in her rig. “Horse pooling” is significantly more affordable than professional transportation, and this way I get to ride down with Pip. Julie’s planning the route and lodging and making what otherwise would be an impossible trip for me, possible. I am very grateful to Julie for the opportunity to travel with her and learn from her too! Joining us will be natural horsemanship trainer Caitlin Day Huntress and her talented Oldenburg gelding, FleetWood, and Morgan Wagner and her famous blind Appaloosa gelding, Endo. Here’s video of Endo competing in working equitation:
If you’re a working equitation fan, I invite you to share your knowledge with us. If you’re a Haflinger fan, then help cheer for Pip as he represents the breed on a national stage. If you just like reading about horses and vacations, then read along with our journey here on my blog! And if you’re an equestrian company or brand looking to support a local horse and rider in a growing international sport, please contact me about helping to sponsor our trip.
I believe there will be live online streaming video of the competition available here: http://www.andalusianworld.com.
Many thanks to everyone who has been supporting us in our prep for this trip, including Nicole Grous who lent us white weave poles to practice with. Let’s go Pippin!