I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the parallels between riding and running, and they may seem like two completly different sports – and they are – but I’m begining to notice similarities: horse shows and race, the importance of inner stregnth and physical stregnth. So I’m thinking this might make a good series. Todays topic: Equitation on the flat classes v. race traffic.
For those of you not necessarily familiar with the equestrian world, I’ll try to make it simple: Growing up we generally competed in equitation and hunter. So in equitation you are judged on you, as a rider, and how well put together your horse is – horse should be in a frame, your body should remain poised, ect. Look pretty. In hunter classes your horse is the one that must look beautiful – nice gait, relaxed neck, ect. In jumping classes you take your horse over a set of…that’s right, jumps. In a flat class, or under saddle, you join usually everyone else in your class (unless the classes are huge and then you get broken up). Walk, trot, canter, turn on the haunches, sitting trot…you get the idea. I used to love this. Not to brag too much, but I always walked out of the ring with a top ribbon. I have the perfect body/style in equitation, and all of my horses excelled too. Hunter classes not so much. I’ll leave that to the rest of Breakaway to win.
I’ve always had horses with good temperaments in the ring; even Wally, my ex-racehorse. He needed to kick his back leg out before we walked into a ring and then he was on. Some girls had to worry about their ponies or horses acting up. I never did. A flat class always became a puzzle for me. The goal was to pass in front of the judge as many times as you could. Staying on the rail was never a good strategy. Instead lots of circles need to be made. Passing on the inside. Make sure you stay away from that mare with her ears pinned back. Lengthen your stride here. But always collect and look poised when passing the judge. Love it!
I first noticed this in Pittsburgh, and then I realized the correlation at the MCM. The first two miles of a road race are a lot like a flat class. There are obviously no horses and judges, but there’s a lot of dodging around people, planning how to pass the two joggers up ahead, lengthening or shortening your stride so that you can jump up on to the sidewalk. Be careful of that walk-runner, who will suddenly start walking after running briskly for 3 minutes. That’s your stubborn pony who’s decided enough is enough. Then there’s always that runner – just making a slightly better pace than you – who becomes your competition. As the race goes on the crowds on the roads begin to thin out and you settle into more of a steady pace. But the first two miles will always resemble a flat ring for me. I’m sure I’m the only one who sees the resemblance between the two but that’s fine with me. Anything that takes me back to my horse show days.