When I was a young girl, my mom and I had a discussion about body types.

At the time, I, like most girls my age, envied celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, and Jennifer Aniston. Only I look nothing like these people. My mom suggested that I should look more towards women with the same body type as me. I was never going to be tall, lean and long legged but rather more athletic and muscular—the only height I’ll ever achieve is in high heels!

So I started looking to athletes, soccer players, and famous people (Britney Spears!) who had more muscle and a shorter stature to decide what style of clothes would look best on me.

Fast forward to now and I’m still using that approach, but in my riding.

My husband, Alex Grayton, is tall—very tall and lean and also decidedly male. So when I think about who to emulate when I ride, although I respect and admire his riding, it can’t be him that I look to copy.

Nor can I imitate many of the female riders I look up to. When I watch a lot of show jumping, I start to think, “Oh, I want to ride like Amy Millar or Mandy Porter or Susie Hutchinson.” But in reality, I’m not built like them and although I can take many lessons away from watching and listening to them when they ride and teach, when I watch my video the picture will never be the same.

It’s not to say that we shouldn’t watch as many riders as we can. But, I’ve found it helps to visualize someone of similar stature with a style of riding I wish to obtain.

For me, right now that’s Beezie Madden. Like me, she has a shorter leg and longer upper body, she often rides big horses and she has a style I would love to emulate (okay, we all want to ride like Beezie, but you know what I mean). Videos and photos of Beezie are incredibly helpful when I’m visualizing a lighter seat that is strong and secure, forward galloping with guiding hands and a leg that doesn’t move.

So  I make sure to review them frequently. I’ve printed photos of Beezie and put them on my desk. I watch all that YouTube has to offer in the Beezie department. I take every opportunity to watch and be inspired by her, short of a tattooing her enviable lower leg on my forearm.

Who are you built like? What style of riding are you aiming towards?

About the Author

Holly Grayton is founder and publisher of Alberta Show Jumpers, an online resource dedicated to current events, trends, competition results, training tips and everything in between relating to the sport of show jumping in Alberta. Check it out at albertashowjumpers.com!