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Loving the Journey

Photo by Julia Louw.

Many equitation riders want to ride those equitation horses who know their jobs and allow you to concentrate on yourself and your form. My name is Alivia Garwood, and while I understand the desire, as an equitation rider, I do not want that at all.

I have been riding Saddlebreds for six years and I’ve shown in equitation for three years. This season will be my fourth in equitation and my first in the saddle seat equitation division. For the past several years I competed in pleasure equitation on my previous horse RWC CH TSV The Mystery Continues, but I called him Goliath. Goliath was not equitated when we bought him, but he knew the basics, so it took us no time to fully equitate him. In our second season showing together, we Triple Crowned in 13 & Under Pleasure Equitation and he earned his “CH” title. After showing Goliath for my entire equitation career, I made the difficult decision to sell him and search for a new challenge. I found that new challenge – a three-year-old who knew absolutely nothing – at Rose Stables in Shelbyville, Kentucky last December. Her name is RWC New Line’s Captain Marvel, but I call her Harley. I tried her in a work bridle and didn’t even canter, but we saw the potential in her and decided to take the jump and buy her with the intention of equitating her and showing her in saddle seat equitation.

Alivia and Harley. // Photo by Julia Louw.I decided to take the risk and buy a young horse to equitate because of many factors, but the biggest one is this: I feel so much more fulfilled when I ride a horse that does not know much and needs someone to ride every step. The journey to equitate a horse and show it when they are not yet experienced is definitely scary, but you truly fall in love with the journey. It is so rewarding when your horse starts to understand the little things that you are asking. It is even more rewarding when it all starts to come together. The journey allows you to grow and learn more than you would ever think. I have learned so much more on a non-equitated horse than I ever would have if I had bought a finished horse. I believe that it makes you a better equestrian and gives you skills that not many junior exhibitors get the chance to build. It allows you to be able to ride a variety of different horses and ride them well. It also allows you to bond with your horse in a way that I don’t believe would happen if you buy a finished horse. You both grow together, and your horse trusts you on a different level because they rely more on you to tell them what to do. Having that strong of a bond with your horse is extremely crucial, especially in equitation.

I have now owned Harley for seven months and she has grown in leaps and bounds. She is now wearing a full bridle beautifully, she is cantering in a teacup, taking canter leads from the middle, and most importantly, she is starting to do simple patterns. I have shown her three times in the three-gaited division and twice in equitation. She has done great in both divisions. She still has a lot to learn, as do I, but she is very smart and seems to love her job so far!

I am so excited about the next steps of my journey with Harley, and I look forward to recording it all for you to follow.

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