Dressage shows are family affairs for Southern-born working mom Leigh W. Kent, DDS, PhD, and at the Wellington Classic Spring Challenge she had an entire cheering section to celebrate her Best Seat Award win. “My daughter Mallory was also competing, and my father and brother flew in, as well as a friend, so we had a good, fun group even though my other three kids couldn’t make it this time,” says Kent. “I work during the week, and Mallory goes to school, but we look forward to driving down to Florida for the shows when we can.” The mother-daughter pair won all of their classes, with high scores. “Mallory showed in her first 2nd level test with her 15-year-old Dutch warmblood gelding Okidokie, and she not only won that class, she received a score of 70%,” Kent pointed out. And, despite feeling like she has ‘so much more’ to learn, Kent is no slouch either. Competing at 3rd level with Sir Luckas, her 14-year-old Danish warmblood gelding, she won all her classes at the Spring Challenge with scores in the upper 60s, plus a 70%. The duo train with Holly and Wolfgang Scherzer of Thistledown Farm in Wilsonville, Al; Kent says every time she rides, she tries to ‘gain a pearl.’
“It’s just like practicing periodontics; there’s no real end of the line because there’s always something new to learn,” says Kent. “I tell Mallory the goal is to always seek out excellence, whether it’s through taking lessons from our trainers or studying the best riders. We seek out riders we love to watch and we study them, plus watch videos and attend clinics.”
Trilogy Saddles President Debbie Witty says Kent’s commitment to lifelong learning is evident in her relationship with her horse under saddle. “It’s wonderful when the judges pick an Adult Amateur out of the whole field of riders as the Best Seat recipient; that’s pretty flattering. Leigh’s horse looked very happy, he went around with a nice, swingy back and tail, so it’s evident that she works very diligently at making herself a better rider and that her horse loves her for it,” points out Witty.
She says that’s what Trilogy hopes to accomplish through the Best Seat Award program. “We want to publicly declare our commitment to how saddle fit and rider position affect the horse’s capacity to move freely and willingly, at the best level of his or her abilities. We also want to inspire and educate riders to take responsibility for their own riding position, and to get the training they need to improve their own seat,” reports Witty. “A saddle’s fit and the rider’s position shouldn’t impede the horse’s movement anywhere, and if both are correct, they actually enhance horse and rider communication.”
Kent joins the ranks of other recent Best Seat winners, such as Rachel Chowanec, Justin Hardin, and Elizabeth Ball: Trilogy Saddles - News & ‘Best Seat’ Award Recipients
Kent says the gelding, whom she purchased from USDF Gold medalist Sharon McCusker of Souhegan Farm through thesection, has helped her own development. “I’ve had Luckas for two years, and I love that horse. He’s taught me so much, and has given me the ability to keep learning what I need to learn in order to catch up to what he knows.”