Alongside the dressage and paradressage riders, showjumpers, eventers, vaulters, reiners and endurance riders who travelled to Kentucky last week, there was another small band of British riders boarding a plane — the GB saddle seat team.

Saddle seat is based on a style of riding popular in Europe until the end of the 19th century.

The rider sits back on a flat saddle and holds the hands high, while the horse moves in an animated fashion.

The sport is popular in South Africa and the US though only has some 50 regular competitors and around eight shows a year here.

The team is financing the trip themselves and will be competing in the Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup.

The riders only have 30 minutes to get to know their assigned horses before doing a pattern test and showing off the gaits.

Team GB captain and gold-medal winning saddle seat rider Gertrud Hendriks, said: “We’ve been practising hard — I’m hopeful, but it also depends on how good the horses are.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (30 September, ’10)