A Deep Dive Into 'Equitation Body' Impact in Big Eq

What's the ideal ‘equitation body’ and how much does it factor in your success in the Big Eq? This has been a hot-button issue in the world of competitive horse riding, drawing a curious blend of views from trainers, riders, and judges alike. But the question persists – does body type matter?

What is the ‘Equitation Body’ anyway?

Picture this: a long-legged, lean rider gracefully mounting a horse, looking like they stepped out of an equine magazine. This image has long been synonymous with the ‘equitation body’. In equitation, appearance matters, much like figure skating. So what's the deal? Is an 'equitation body' a necessity or a biased stereotype? Let's examine this further.

The ‘Equitation Body’ from a Trainer’s Perspective

As trainers, we value form and harmony over body type. While slender riders may appear 'prettier' on the horse, success in equitation isn't tied solely to having long legs and a skinny frame. Many top riders haven't been tall and skinny. The task is to ensure that riders, regardless of their builds, can present a flowing, soft, and beautiful image.

Moreover, there are riders who may be considered "too tall" or "too skinny". For these riders, it becomes equally important to find a suitable match with their horses to create the right look for equitation. In other words, the physical attributes of the rider are only a part of the overall equation.

Judging the ‘Equitation Body’

When judging equitation, it's not just about the rider's appearance. More importantly, it's about how the horse and rider work together. Every shape has a fighting chance in the ring, so long as the riders demonstrate dedication, skill, and softness. We penalize stiff and/or weak riders the most, as the art of equitation rewards those who make the complicated job look simple.

A Parent’s Perspective on the ‘Equitation Body’ Debate

As a parent, it becomes critical to ensure that riders feeling good about themselves. It is important that kids are truthful about their performance in the show ring. We should try not to make their success in the competition about their "look". The division isn't for the weak, or for complainers. We encourage our kids to give it their all, and if they don't get the ribbons, there's always another show.

At the end of the day, success in Big Eq comes down to dedication, hard work, skill, and the right mindset. Your body shape cannot define your potential. Remember that ribbons are just toppings; they come and go. But the "you" in you is forever – it’s how you perform that matters at the end of the day!

About the Author

Dana Hart Callanan is a successful hunter, jumper, and equitation coach, an 'R' judge, and a sales broker with contacts at top stables across the country and internationally. Together with her daughter, Emma, she runs Hart Farms in Tewksbury, NJ, and Wellington, FL.

Learn more about her work here.

Reference Links

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