Trainer Takes: What is Catch Riding?

ES Equine Photography | Evelyn Szczepanek

By Tatum Mitchell

Catch riding is a regular activity within the horse industry, but for someone new to the sport, it’s a phrase that doesn’t quite translate directly. Even for veterans of the sport, the exact definition can be hard to articulate. So, we asked a few seasoned trainers to define the term. Here are their takes:

“To me, catch riding is picking up extra rides at the horse show that are not your regular rides you have at home,” says Sarah Haas of Swept Away Farm. “I would still call it catch riding if there’s a horse of someone else’s you consistently ride at the horse show.”

Jen Ritucci of Next Venture Farm says a good catch rider is adaptable to different kinds of horses. 

“Catch riding is when a person other than their normal rider, is asked to ride or show a horse for someone else. A good catch rider is one who has the ability to get on any different type or style of horse and adapt to their specific ride,” says Jen Ritucci of The Next Venture Farm. “Not all horses are ridden with the same type of pressure or connection, and not all horses like to be ridden the same way. A good catch rider can ride them all well.”

Lifelong horseman and trainer Patrick Mitchell says he immediately thinks of Aaron Vale and Rodney Jenkins as examples of great catch riders.

“Catch riding is the ability to ride a variety of horses effectively. This is used mostly at horse shows, to help certain horses in particular situations,” says Patrick Mitchell. “For example, a trainer might ask a rider to get on a sale horse or a client’s horse. If a professional brings a horse to the shows they want to put in the junior hunters, they’ll ask a junior rider to catch ride it. A good catch rider is worth their weight in gold.”

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