A silent auction recently had a series of polo lessons on offer. Have you done such a thing? How about riding sidesaddle? Or Western? Or saddleseat? Or driving? Something completely different from what you typically do, even just for one ride? What was it like?
Well I grew up riding both Western and English jump seat. And bareback. I haven’t tried any of the other things.
I’ve ridden sidesaddle and driven, and to be honest both scared the shit out of me! The sidesaddle I rode in didn’t fit me particularly well, and I can see a universe where I could get used to it on a bombproof horse with a sidesaddle that was fitted to me properly…but driving?? I have so much respect for people who can do it skillfully–I felt absolutely terrified with my only contact with the horse(s) being through the reins. I’ve tried it a few times, albeit only once in a proper lesson-type format, and it was like trying to learn a completely new language. Not for me!
I’d love to try polo, even though I’m sure I’d be terrible at it.
Grew up riding and showing saddleseat. Also drove a road horse and showed a couple of road ponies when the trainer wanted a kid to drive. Got one sold for him when we won the class! (Had a quick first-time driving lesson the night before)
Did polo in college, and a little hunt seat because that’s what they did in the intercollegiate competitions.
Rode a Paso Fino stallion once just to feel what it was like. He did the Fino classes, so lots of quick leg movements but very little forward progression. So smooth!
The strangest was probably riding these little scrawny horses up a volcano in the Galapagos. At one point, we were on this narrow narrow path with the wall of the caldera right at my shoulder, and a cliff straight down on the other side. The saddle was two wood slats joined by rebar, with a deflated innertube and some cloth blankets for cushioning. The stirrup “leathers”, girth, and bridle were all rope, and there was no bit, just the rope tied to the horse’s lower jaw. But those little horses knew their job! We rode up, had a picnic by some volcano steam vents, then rode back down.
I took driving lessons in 2003, and drove for the next 13 years. I don’t consider it an odd horse experience, though. It was great for someone like me who loves horses but has lost a sense of balance.
In that 13 years, I think I rode four times. That was on my saint of a mare, who didn’t want to move out of a walk and made sure she stayed under me. So riding became an odd horse experience, unfortunately.
Got to drive Saddlebreds, including 2 world champions.
It was terrifying.
I wanted to use my legs to turn. Duh
Saddleseat and driving are odd horse experiences? Western is an odd horse experience? Wow.
Apparently I’m a freak since I rode saddleseat for 20+ years and have driven for 25+ years. It’s fantastic.
I enjoy trying out different things from time to time. I’ve tried sidesaddle and I’ve driven. I’ve ridden Icelandics and Paso Finos. I would like to do a mounted archery clinic but ran out of time this year.
Sigh. I didn’t mean “odd” as an insult, but as activity you don’t typically do. Carry on.
I got your meaning!
I played polo in college, in fact I was in the inaugural team at WSU! It was the most fun I’ve ever had on on horseback. Seriously. As a soccer player and hunter rider, it combined both lives in one game. Perfect!
I’ve ridden sidesaddle a number of times on my own horse. I live fairly close to a lady who has a large collection of sidesaddles, and will rent them out and give lessons. I took a clinic with her and then have rented a saddle a few times since. I was also invited to be a demo rider at an open house hosted at her farm a few years ago. I find it feels weird for about 10 minutes, and then it was pretty easy to get used to.
I’ve also taken a polo lesson. A bunch of my coach’s students (and my coach) had a private lesson/clinic, so we were able to ride polo school horses that knew what they were doing. It was fun but way harder than I thought. I can’t even imagine starting in polo without knowing how to ride - they said they have quite a few people who have gotten into it that way.
The only thing on your list I haven’t tried is side saddle.
I love trying different things and using horses in different ways.
I guess I grew up wanting to try everything —I’ve done everything on your list --sidesaddle --yep --fox hunted and showed aside; Or Western–yep --reining, roping, pleasure, ranch, trail, showmanship --never tried cutting/sorting but my horse has. Saddleseat --yep --started in a saddle seat barn. driving --yep -standardbred racing horses and drove my Percheron and a lovely mare for many years. Also did endurance and long distance (250 miles in 14 days) . Oddest experience I had was riding a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back --kind of made me want a mule! Played polo with my kid who was on a HS team. She would come home from boarding school and we’d play in our pastures.
Currently I shoot Mounted Archery --thought about Mounted Shooting, but I’d done that for awhile when I was twenty something and didn’t like the noise. Mounted Archery is a lot quieter.
I always wanted to try polo, but we never had a club in the area for it. Also always wanted to learn to drive, but never had a horse I thought was suitable (or a cart, for that matter).
I did have a (very short) lesson on a Prix St. Georges horse once. That was both eye-opening and humbling, to say the least! That poor horse. I still feel sorry for him. I thought I was a decent rider until that day.
I have ridden sidesaddle a few times. You definitely want a saddle that fits you and you definitely want a steady, sane horse! I never got above a trot.
These women, however, are AMAZING.
Our polo team at college had me (saddleseat rider at the time), a girl who was a huntseat rider, and a guy who had never ridden. Guess who had it easier? The guy who had never ridden! He had no preconceived idea of “equitation”, so he just went balls to the wall while the huntseat rider and I were worried about our positions.
Friends of mine had a former Amish-used Haflinger that was an absolute machine in the harness. He was fun to ride, but LOVED being driven. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horse so clearly prefer a specific job like he did. I got to show him at our fair after one practice drive at home and it was a blast.
I have such a long bucket list of things to try that I’ll probably never get to cross them all off. I wish I could just get a line up of one horse from every single discipline that’s at the top of their game and have a ride on each lol.
You might be right! They have to lean over so far in the saddle for polo, and I thought I was but then saw video and I look like I’m barely over the side lol. Our hands are probably better though
Never tried polo, because I know I absolutely do not have the coordination.
Have ridden sidesaddle and found it a lot of fun (and really good for your astride equitation, as you have to really focus on weighting your seatbones equally), have driven horses (and taken lessons) and found it really interesting and fun. Dabbled in Western gymkhana kinda stuff for giggles.
The most unusual thing I’ve done was cavalry training, where I got to fire a pistol and stab targets with a sword from horseback. Spearing things with a lance was also on the menu, but I had the same concerns about that as polo.
I would love to watch and learn from some good saddleseat people, never had the opportunity.
Years ago I had the chance to learn to drive a team of Belgians. That was terrifying and extremely fun at the same time!
I spent a few years training and showing flat shod walking horses. I had previously only ridden stock horses. It was a bit of a learning experience, but I found them to be super smart and versatile. I showed a stallion that would jump 3’ as if he was stepping over a daisy. I taught him to bow and lie down on cue. He would have been the youngest TWH to win a supreme versatility award, but I couldn’t get the halter points. You had to show in a bridle and he knew I could not discipline him in the ring, so he would maul me. Tore a hole in my coat once. As soon as we walked out the gate, he was a perfect gentleman.