The sort of saddle you first sat in doesn’t must be your final. Changing driving disciplines can assist you renew your pursuits and discover new pleasure with the horses you like.

Photo by Terry Kelly/Shutterstock“Everyone goes through a process,” says dressage coach Cody Harrison of Brighton, Colo. “If you change disciplines, it doesn’t mean that you started out in the wrong discipline. As you grow, there are opportunities. You have to step out of your comfort zone and find what’s right for you.”

Here, we talked with three riders who made huge switches. Read on to seek out out what prompted their shifts from ranch driving to dressage, eventing to reining, and western pleasure to polo.

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Following the Feel

Growing up on a western cattle ranch taught Harrison to like horses. He looked for trainers and coaching types that helped develop a connection and partnership with horses. He discovered that connection on the planet of classical dressage.

“All the time I was growing up, it was all ranch work,” he says. Harrison helped to begin his household’s younger horses with spherical pen and desensitizing work.

Cody Harrison grew up ranch riding before changing disciplines to dressageCody Harrison grew up on a cattle ranch and helped begin the household’s younger horses. Photo courtesy Cody Harrison

Craving new coaching methods, Harrison labored with an area western coach who occurred to be finding out the ideas of classical dressage. He discovered the connection he wished with horses by way of dressage.

Harrison now rides and trains horses with classical dressage ideas. His dressage mentor, Dominique Barbier, furthered Harrison’s love of his new self-discipline.

“There’s a mindset and a way of life with the classical principles to make sure the horse feels healthy and safe,” says Harrison. “There are western riders that have that mindset as well, but when I grew up starting horses, it was always physical. The horses were sweating, and they were disciplined if they didn’t do something as fast as I wanted. Now when I work with young horses, there’s not a day when they break a sweat. I have learned to go through the mind to get control of their body and feet to make sure that the horses feel more comfortable.”

Harrison says that as a rider, he finds the largest change in type is to make use of his seat extra successfully.

“On the ranch, we used our legs and hands,” he says. “In the classical discipline, the seat is the primary aid. You shift your weight a little more and your legs and hands are used to clarify what your seat is doing.”

Cody Harrison riding dressageCody fell in love with dressage after working with a western coach who was finding out these classical ideas. Photo courtesy Cody Harrison

Dressage is a everlasting change for Harrison.

“I will stay with this style of riding,” he says.

“I feel like I’m done searching for something different. I am still searching for how to do things better and lighter.”

Harrison describes the second he knew that he was on the suitable path in his horsemanship journey.

“I had someone coming to my facility to see if they wanted to put their horse in training,” he says. “Some family experiences were stressful, and I wasn’t mentally prepared to be riding. As I was getting my horse ready, I knew I couldn’t be there mentally today, and I needed [my horse] to be there for me. He could not have been any better. He was there for me and gave me his best and was consistent and made me look good. When I realized that I had that connection and that he could take care of me that way, it was a special moment.”

Change of Rein

Meg Johnson, now of Dallas, Texas, first sat in an English saddle at age 2. Her horse, Joker, carried her by way of the eventing ranks and earned her year-end titles with the Georgia Dressage and Combined Training Association. She even certified for the North American Young Rider Championships. Later, a brand new horse, T’Kai, was her associate as she earned her United States Pony Club “B” score.

An accident whereas driving T’Kai on a cross-country course prompted Johnson to rethink her driving.

“I looked like a human train wreck,” she says. Still, she was decided to experience and attended a horseman’s membership assembly when beginning at Auburn University in Alabama.

Meg Johnson competed in eventing before changing disciplinesMeg Johnson had beforehand climbed the ranks of eventing in her youth, together with a visit to the North American Young Rider Championships. Photo by Terrie Hatcher Photo

Her coach instructed inventory seat lessons, as a result of she had a powerful dressage background.

“After a few practices, I was slotted as our team’s open reiner,” says Johnson. “I loved the elegance of reining—it was like dressage, but with a sparkly shirt and some whooping and hollering! I was also introduced that year to rodeo pageantry, where I had to catch ride and run a reining pattern. I became Miss Rodeo Georgia the following year.”

After faculty, Johnson knew she wished horses in her life—reining horses.

“I really never regained my ‘nerve’ after my accident in college,” she says. “I remember holding my baby in the hospital and knowing I couldn’t physically afford to take another fall now that I had someone depending on me. I started horse shopping from the hospital bed.”

Meg Johnson competing in reiningAfter a foul fall, Meg Johnson occurred into reining in faculty. Photo by KC Montgomery

Her first reining horse, Jac Smart, was a fantastic horse to study on—and she or he says she did should study the finer factors of displaying reining horses.

“I thought I’d read all the rules but had to be reminded that my sliding stops needed to be past the cones, not at the cones like a dressage test,” says Johnson. “I left the show with a disappointing score soaked in penalties. I also remember having a lot of trouble not using my reins; going from full contact in dressage to a looped rein in reining was a loss-of-control feeling that took some adaptation!”

Johnson discovered her horse of a lifetime in Timber Zak. She and Zak grew to become a profitable crew.

“I’ll never forget the feeling of hearing my score announced over the loudspeaker and knowing we’d just become world champions,” she says. “It still gives me chills thinking about it. He’s carried me to several year-end titles, five buckles, and a run for Rookie of the Year.”

Johnson gives the next recommendation to any rider considering of fixing saddles.

“Figure out how to use your strengths from the previous sport—whether it’s your mental toughness, riding skills, or ability to adapt,” she says.

Pleasure to Polo

Nicole Wozniak grew up showing in western pleasure in 4-HNicole Wozniak grew up driving western pleasure and gained huge accolades on the state honest along with her horse, Willie. Photo by Don Trout

Nicole Wozniak grew up as a 4-H rider displaying her horse Willie in western pleasure. The pair earned a revolving trophy and excessive honors on the state honest horse present.

Wozniak deliberate to stay with pleasure driving when she began at Michigan State University, however polo piqued her curiosity after the primary equestrian crew assembly.

“When I was walking out, someone said I should join the polo team instead,” she says. “I had been pretty burned out with horse showing in high school and the pressure to ‘win things.’ Polo sounded like a cool alternative. I attended tryouts that next week and I was instantly addicted.”

The new sport excited her and felt like an enormous change from the horse present world.

“Polo is incredibly challenging,” she says. “The most exciting part was to not be judged anymore and to get to work with a team. Riding is just one aspect of the game. Hitting, knowing where your teammates are, knowing the rules, following plays, et cetera, were added elements that made things really interesting.”

Polo made Wozniak rework her horsemanship.

“In polo, getting out of your saddle to hit the ball is the No. 1 most important thing. For a while, I was constantly yelled at to ‘get out of the saddle!’ I think that was a product of my equitation background.”

After a lot observe, she felt like she toughened up mentally.

“At my final intercollegiate game at Regionals, I scored a two-pointer and brought our team within three goals of beating the best team in the nation,” says Wozniak. “The coach of the other team complimented our coach and told him how nervous our team had made him. This was huge coming from him! It was super exciting and a great way to end my intercollegiate career.”

Nicole Wozniak playing poloNicole was instantly captivated by the brand new problem of polo after getting burned out within the horse present world. Photo courtesy U.S. Polo Association

Wozniak continues to experience. “But I can’t go back to the days of being judged against other people. The thrill of the team aspect of polo can’t be beat.”

After making an attempt a number of disciplines, she says that her love of horses is identical irrespective of the game or sort of saddle.

“If riding isn’t fun anymore, a change of discipline can be a game changer. Sometimes changing up the discipline for your horse can be just as mentally helpful as changing it for you. If you do change, be kind to yourself. I used to always say that I changed disciplines in riding so many times that I was never able to get good at any one thing. Now I’ve realized that it has made me a more versatile rider, and I am able to do things in each discipline that a lot of people can’t.”

Changing disciplines simply could invigorate your curiosity and educate you extra about horses and driving. There’s all the time one thing new to study.

This article about altering driving disciplines appeared within the October 2021 concern of Horse Illustrated journal. Click right here to subscribe!

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