The saddle seat riders from Valley View Farms got the spring off to a great start with some big wins in Langley last month.
“They’ve been training all winter long for the spring season,” said farm owner Doug Roe after his riders’ strong showing at the Class-A show on the weekend of April 15.
The show was a qualifier for the provincial championships that will take place this fall, where several Valley View Farms riders are already guaranteed to be participating.
“Almost all our riders are fully qualified for that show,” Roe said.
Valley View riders Tracy Fay and Ashley Roe competed in the adult division in Langley, while Maddy Zimmer and Deanna Cvitanovich rode in the 14-and-under division.
Fay rode to two second-place results and was reserve champion in the final. Ashley Roe was riding a horse she wasn’t used to, but still collected two seconds and two firsts.
Cvitanovich won a championship, a first and a fourth, and Zimmer earned a second, third and a championship.
Ashley Roe has been riding her whole life, while Fay and Cvitanovich are in their second year of competition. This was the first class-A event for Zimmer.
“It was good to see her step up and rise to the occasion,” Doug Roe said of Zimmer, who also competed at the Victoria Arabian Club show, riding to three first-place results.
All the Valley View Farms riders train under Carol Roe, while Ashley Roe trains most of the horses. Ashley travels to Kentucky each year to work with trainers there.
Saddle seat is a branch of English riding that shows off the high action of certain horse breeds, and the four Valley View riders are committed to the unique discipline.
“It’s so different from all other styles,” Cvitanovich said. “I couldn’t imagine doing any other style.”
Unique though saddle seat may be, the Valley View riders insist anyone can do it, and enjoy it.
“It’s a sport for everyone,” said the 46-year-old Fay, who was last year’s provincial champ in saddle seat equitation. “It doesn’t have to just be kids.”
Saddle seat riders sport clothing that is also unique to the style of riding, modelled after business suits or tuxedos, as well as hats, although in some events they can wear helmets for protection.
As a result, saddle seat competitors stand out among other riders.
“Not many people know about it, so when you go to a show, they are always so impressed,” Zimmer said. “You look so different.”
“You look so flashy at the horse shows,” she said. “It’s pretty cool when you’re riding a big, powerful horse and everyone is watching.”
While all riding requires discipline, saddle seat competitors are judged on their appearance as well as their mastery of the horse.
“Everything has to be perfect,” Cvitanovich explained. “It makes you want to work harder.”
“That’s the draw,” Fay chimed in.
In addition to their other competitions on the road this spring and summer, Valley View will be hosting its second annual Island Invitational at the Cowichan Exhibition on June 4 and 5. The event will be an open show for all breeds.