There are so many things that I want to say about dressage that I am having a hard time organizing this post. Whenever I find myself in such a predicament, I find that getting some of the silliness out of the way can help find a real direction. So without further ado, I give you some of my observations about those of us who are to deep in to get out- not that we would ever ponder such an option.
You may have noticed what appears to be a lock of hair in the picture above. It is a lock of hair. It is from my horse’s first haircut- when I trimmed his mane for what is known as the bridle path. I’ve saved this lock from every horse I’ve ever owned and am considering having a bracelet made from this one! It’s not a dressage thing; it’s just the sort of behavior exhibited by horse nuts in general.
Ann Romney jokes aside, the atmosphere surrounding dressage is a bit rarified for some. Images like the one here do not help.
My horse came over from Spain on a plane, and it cost me a pretty penny plus years of planning and saving to be able to afford it. Like most of my dressage friends, I clean stalls, carry water buckets, and even vaccinate or give other shots when necessary. I do not fly out to sunny California when I feel like riding. Rather, I hope that the weather is decent so that I can ride (when don’t I feel like riding?) in my outdoor sand box. Indoor arenas are for sissies (sez me because I do not have one).
I do not buy into the myth that the most expensive stuff is the best stuff. Dressage is expensive enough as it is. For those of you who know gear (for anything), you know that it can literally make the difference between life and death. Does paying over $200 for a pair of breeches make me ride better? On the other hand, paying a bit more for a helmet does have an appealing sort of logic to it. Or even boots… to a point. I know children who are trotting around in $500 boots.
Dressage riders who choose to compete participate in a sport that requires us to wear white spandex pants. Really? Whoever thought that one up definitely had a host of minions to do all the dirty work for them. Here I am in my tidy whities at a show.
White saddle pads are preferred, though black or navy are acceptable and look especially good on a grey. The only thing harder to keep clean than yourself wearing white while grooming and tacking up is a white saddle pad. I have some friends who even school in them. Tradition is great and serves a valid purpose (hey, I think I just found focus for my next post), but in the schooling arena wardrobe? I think not.
On the subject of “bling” dressage riders are nuts. Did you notice the bling on my tie (yes, my tie!)? Subtle, yes? It matches that on my boy’s bridle! I have a friend who makes them if you’re interested. I have to get my color fix outside the show arena because more than what you see above is way beyond tacky. Despite our desire to stand out a little, it really is about how well our horses are schooled. On the other hand, something shiny does give one a bit of a boost…
Our rigs are another source of humor for me. Since I was knee high to a pony I’ve been fascinated by trailers (for both people and horses). Imagine my ecstasy when I discovered that you can get a 2H StL LQ (a two horse straigh- load with living quarters)! I only have a 2HStL w/TR (tack room). Life is tough. Here is what they use in Afghanistan.
You will notice that the horse above is wearing a blanket. I have heard certain members of my household mumble that my horses have a larger winter wardrobe than most humans. Well that may be true, but we insist on shaving off the horses’ winter coats so they won’t sweat when we school indoors all winter. We even blanket in the fall to prevent the growth of a winter coat! And as for shoes, the same grumbler has pointed out that one horse gets the equivalent of a high-end pair of Nikes every six weeks while he only gets two pairs per year. For the record, the youngster above had such fantastic feet that he is shoeless. My farrier (and he is MINE!!) does not charge an month’s worth of hay to take care of my herd. He is a saint.
Actually, most things can be sources of humor for me- even a spectacular dismount that results in bruised ribs that still trouble me as of this post. See my post entitled “Well I Never!” for the full story on that one. The biggest source of happy amusement right now comes from schooling my young horse (the one in the picture) and myself. His antics make me laugh, and sometimes I swear he is laughing at me too!!