A Custom Ride

A Custom Ride

By Baileigh Marcotte

Hello everyone! 🙂 My name is Baileigh Marcotte and I was awarded the Spring 2023 SEDA Scholarship. I would like to first start by saying how grateful Custom and I are to have received this opportunity from SEDA! Custom and I love participating in clinics and acquiring various techniques and skills to put into our toolbox, so this scholarship was such a blessing. I have been a member of SEDA for four years now and have been so privileged to be a part of such an amazing organization that is geared towards furthering rider’s educations.

I have had Custom for almost three years now and as many probably know, it has been an adventure. Custom is a 9 year old OTTB and we compete in both eventing and dressage only. Words will never be able to describe my love for this horse, and the pride I have due to the mountains we have climbed and the obstacles we have overcome together. When I first got Custom he was absolutely wild and should have come with a blinking caution sign on him lol. He was spooky, extremely unpredictable, and tried to kill me every show. There were a copious amount of times where I wanted to give up and believe it when people told me I wouldn’t get anywhere with him. However, I saw the potential in him and strived every day to make everyone else see it too. I refused to give up and knew that it wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worth it.

Now I am proud to say that Custom and I just competed at the Region 9 Dressage Championships in October and placed in the ribbons all four rides!! There will never be a feeling quite as amazing as trotting down centerline with the horse that you brought from nothing and made something. During my final salute at Regionals I knew that I made the girl who shed countless tears over never thinking she would attain her goal proud. In that moment all the falls, all the training, all the early mornings, and all the late nights had been worth it because I was under the arena lights, surrounded by people in the stands, and doing a victory gallop on my boy in the Region 9 awards ceremony.

With all of this being said, SEDA had such a huge impact on me being able to make it to this point because with the scholarship I was able to participate in two clinics where I was able to prosper as a rider and Custom was able to prosper as a horse. I rode in a clinic with Laura Ashley Killian where we focused on Custom’s lateral work and his transitions. We talked about how every transition affects the next one. Therefore, the medium walk effects the trot transition, and the trot transition effects the canter transition, etc. This played such a huge part in my betterment as a rider when it came time for Regionals because I was more effective with my aids, and Custom was able to know exactly what I was asking for when I asked for it. Learning how to ride the lateral work, such as leg yields and shoulder ins, was also extremely useful at Regionals because Custom enjoys these movements to loosen him up a bit. These also occupy his mind and make him focus on working which is helpful in stressful warm ups!!

I also had the pleasure of riding with Aaron Nobbs which was such an amazing experience! He is such a talented rider and trainer, and I had the best time during his stadium jumping clinic. The quotes that I still hear in my head from him when I jump are “MORE POWER!” and “Beautiful! Give him cuddles!” (Say in British accent for full effect). Custom tends to be more lazy when he jumps (usually), so throughout the whole lesson Mr. Aaron really wanted to see Custom wake up and care about his job. We also focused a lot on striding during the clinic which is so incredibly important for jumping. Being able to see the same distance as your horse can make or break a stadium round. With this being said, I found his exercises really beneficial. I greatly enjoy exercises where you have to change the amount of canter strides before a jump, so this was really fun for me! Now Custom on the other hand… not so much! He also taught me about the rods and cones in horse’s eyes and how they see colors differently, so that is why certain colors scare them more which I found interesting.

All in all, these two clinics helped me grow as a rider so much, and I will take the lessons I learned and memories I made with me forever! I am so beyond thankful to have had this opportunity, and I can’t wait for someone else to embark on this same amazing experience. Therefore, if you have the ability to apply for the SEDA Scholarship, I encourage you to do so because I know it has benefited Custom and I tremendously and can do the same for you and your horse!

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