[10 QUESTIONS] Moore talks dedication and love of equestrian saddleseat


Photo Submitted by Griffin Moore

Griffin Moore after winning the world championship for his division.

Q: When did you start riding competitively?
A: I showed for the first time when I was three, although I didn’t do much more than sit on the horse while my mom led me around the ring. I started showing by myself when I was about seven, although I was still riding lesson horses, and I competed almost entirely with kids around my age. In ninth grade, when I was 13, we leased a competitive show horse for the first time, and I began riding in larger shows, competing against teenagers and adults.


Q: What type of horse racing do you do?
A: I actually don’t do racing. I ride English Saddleseat on American Saddlebreds and Morgan horses, which essentially means that I do a dog show for horses. Everyone in the class rides into the ring at the same time, and the judges assess either the form and posture of the horses or the riders, depending on the division. The horses have to cycle between all the gaits (walking, trotting, and cantering) they’re capable of.


Q: What is the biggest competition you competed in?
A: The year I leased the show horse, I took him to Morgan Grand Nationals in Oklahoma, the national and world championship show for the Morgan breed. It is and was the biggest show I’ve ever been to, made extra exciting by the fact that I won the world championship for my division. The counterpart for American Saddlebreds is the World Championship Horse Show in Kentucky.


Q: Who is your favorite professional equestrian?
A: In Saddleseat, “professional” means a horse trainer who shows. My favorite professional, then, is my trainer, Alyssa, who is a beautiful rider, accomplished horse trainer, and a dedicated and inspiring coach.


Q: What motivates you on and off the track?
A: I ride because I love horses, and the connection riding creates with them. Riding well requires you to listen to the horse so that you can best tell them what you need them to do. It requires trust and patience built while riding and caring for your horse. Many of my favorite moments from rides are ones where I discover some new way to communicate with or understand the horse I’m riding, and whatever issue I’ve been struggling with falls into place.


Q: What is the hardest part about being an equestrian?
A: It requires a lot of time and dedication to improve and remain competitive, which is something I struggled with in past years due to my overcrowded schedule. The relaxing of some commitments during quarantine has actually made it easier for me to dedicate more time to the sport.


Q: What is an assumption about equestrians?
A: When I say I ride horses, people typically assume that I do racing, jumping or dressage, which are the three most well-known types of riding. Saddleseat is a little hard to explain and even harder to watch and appreciate if you’re not already immersed in it, so very few people know what I actually do.


Q: What are your goals for this season?
A: They’re actually a little up in the air right now. My plan for the season was to share a show horse with my grandmother, but because we show in different divisions, the dual training for the horse proved to be too complicated, so I’m currently showing a lesson horse while we search for another show horse for me. We don’t know how long that search will take, or how long after we get a new horse I’ll be able to start showing them, so currently the rest of the season is a bit undefined.


Q: What is the hardest show you have competed in?
A: While I’m tempted to say Grand Nationals, it was probably at last year’s Un-Fair Horse Show in Iowa, because I had to ride a class with a fairly complex pattern with a horse who had never shown in that type of class before. If a class has a pattern it means that before the class, the showrunners create a mapped pathway that you have to ride the horse along in the ring as part of the class, usually involving gaits and shapes the horse doesn’t find natural or easy.


Q: How has COVID-19 Affected your season?
A: It actually hasn’t changed much. I still take lessons two times a week, the only differences are that I wear a mask the whole time I’m at the barn, and I can’t really socialize in the tack room anymore. Shows are still happening, with the requirement that everyone except for those actively showing wear masks, though the enforcement of this policy is disappointingly lackluster at some shows.