Monday, 7 December 2015

The Eventer's Prayer

Psalm 23Aging Eventer Version (AEV)

My coach is my shepherd; I shall not rest
She maketh me thrice walk cross country; she leadeth me twice around stadium
She restoreth my balls; she leadeth me to the path of the bar for my horse's sake
Yea, though I walk in the valley of the shadow of coffins, I will fear no drop fences; for thou art near me; thy lessons and light mockery they comfort me
Thou preparest a drink before me in the presence of my competitors; thou poureth forth the tequila; my cup runneth over
Surely old injuries and sore muscles shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the poor for ever.
Thanks be to Aleve

Monday, 9 November 2015

Welcome to Adulthood, my dear Hippo

August marked a full year with the Hippo, the first consistent year she's ever had.  With the end of her first year comes the transition to being asked to behave like an adult who has to work for a living.

The tone of our rides lately:
Yes, adulting is hard
No, adulting isn't optional
Yes, you may have an apple afterward
I hear you, dear horse
I mean, I get it.  Adulting is highly overrated.  But if I can work full-time to keep her sheltered, she can suck it up to work 5+ hours per week.

But this transition to adulthood has to happen. Now we're transitioning to fall, so aptly named.  Its a season of crisp temperatures, shorter days and increasing equine dumbassery.  And the Hippo is feeling much more full of herself.  Evidently the temptation to spook at everything/nothing for sheer entertainment purposes has been irresistible. However, I appear to have found a solution!

Welcome to the Samuel L Jackson school of attitude adjustment, where spooking results in an instant Pulp Fiction-esque response.
Or in our case "Spook again, Hippo"
Lest you think I am unreasonably harsh, I did give her 5 months to acclimatize in the ring + 24/7 turnout + regular work + hacking + majority roughage diet. And did I mention that the behavior was almost absent at horse shows?  Hippo logic, spook = distract = don't have to work so hard.

We're approaching the point where I see my darling mare eyeball or tilt an ear at things she usually spooks at and decide "It ain't worth it."
Not worth spooking? Good decision
Thank god for that, because she's usually spooking at the arena itself.  You see, we're in a cover-all type ring ... on top of a hill ... on the ocean ... going into winter. The end walls of the arena wiggle, waver and 'flap' randomly and with increasing frequency.   And its a very, very long time until spring.

The flapping, like these adorable ears ... with more 'exciting' results

Monday, 2 November 2015

Hug Your Horses

A great horse passed today. Not a famous horse, or a fancy horse, a big plain bay with just a little white.

A big goof who happily came out of a field to show his new person the wonders of eventing; who gave a returning rider wings and heart.

He'd gallop madly down a beach but always keep his person safe. Rampaging over ditches, locking merrily onto jumps with a spring and a tail swish.  Honest and kind, with a hint of the devil, so no one got bored.

A practically perfect partnership, over far too soon.  Wither scratches and hair nibbles, evening rides with an old dog dancing behind, hacks with friends, competitions filled with laughter, apples and cider.

Hugs your horses, its always too soon.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Super-TRex: The Quest for Courage (or Balls of Steel)

Did I mention this yet?  I don't think I mentioned this yet.  In a fit of lunacy, I told my coach one of my winter goals.  Specifically the "holy crap, what am I doing, what's come over me?" goal of getting comfortable jumping low wide oxers.

Did someone say oxer? AIEEEEEE!

Seriously.  Back in, what was it ... April?  I'm pretty sure it was April. I took the Hippo over her first oxer and my first one in forever.  It scared the crap out of me.  The front portion of oxer was a 12" high cross rail, the back rail was 18" high and the whole thing was around 18" wide. We jumped it twice and that was enough for me until the end of July.  Then again, my maximum comfortable jumping height was 2'-2'3" depending on the day ....

Just in case you've forgotten, the Hippo has 2' high kneecaps.  So she was not the one with the problem. 

Of course, by the time the end of July rolled around, I started to realized I'd entered and paid for a competition that was guaranteed to have a couple oxers, at least.  For both of our sakes, perhaps it was a good idea to introduce the big mare to the concept.  We're talking about 2' wide, maximum but still likely to cause me to leap in to micro manage at the slightest hiccup. (Remember the STOP HELPING ... yup, oxers) 

And I was comfortable with it!

So I don't know what came over me last week.  Tuesday I was working with a friend on a combination and (dun dun DUNNNN) raised the 2nd fence to THREE WHOLE FEET HIGH! The horse doesn't care, at all, its just more fun than dressage in her mind. The next night? A group of us got together for a group schooling session.  By the end I was asking for the 2nd fence to be raised. 

C: How many holes do you want it raised?
Me: Two, no wait ... three's good. (Thinking that looks around 2'9", we're good)
Horse: Sproing!  No problem 

Me: Want to put it up a couple more?
C:  Sure! 
Horse: Ok mom, I'll give it a go!  

That one was a little harder, Hippo needs a bit more practise, no big deal.  Then I take a closer look, that fence height isn't 3'ish, its 3'6"+.  Then there was the lesson where my coach started working on the aforementioned 'low wide oxer goal', which finished off at 5' wide. I don't know how long this streak of courage, or insanity, will last.   That's like ... 3 jumping milestones in a week?  For both us at the same time?

Did we just do that?!

Inspired by sister in spirit, Wendy of Riding with Scissors, I've done a little shopping.  Some (literal) balls of steel, to help keep my nerves ice cold when my (metaphorical) balls of steel fail me or to celebrate when they don't. Cheers! 

Because we are ... well ... sometimes

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

How to Traumatize Your Horse in One Easy Step

Well, the Hippo has been continuing her campaign to jump instead of the push/lift/concentrate tedium of flatwork.

Flatwork: Hey look over there!  Did you see that out the door? *spook*  OMG, I heard something dangerous outside the door! *scoot*

Jumping: Hang on lady!  I got this.  Why you look at the door?  Seems fine to me!

We did have one legitimate day of terror after our new footing arrived.  All the jump equipment moved out the back door.
*insert scary ghost moans here*

So I ride down near the end of the ring to let her 'process' the changes.  Cue the peanut gallery thoughts, "You should have handwalked first, don't you know anything?"  If you think I'm putting myself in the path of 1500lbs of get me the hell outta here horse, you are crazier than I am!
Horse:1 Me:0

Horse:  *puffs up* * stands on tiptoes*  I must SNORT! and look suspicious ... and flex muscles like a competing bodybuilder.

Me: ... *looks at watch and yawns* *wishes that butt would stop going numb*

Repeat for the next 20-30 minutes, at which point, I completely traumatised my horse.  Can you guess what I did?  Huh? Huh?  Come on, guess.

I ... scratched her withers.

This ... 1500lbs of it
I guess she forgot about me up there or something.  How that happened I have no idea.  Seriously, I'm a t-rex, not a termite!  All I know is that when my fingertip touched her, I got this reaction "HOLY SHIT! What the HELL was that!"

Because ... wither scratches are HELLA scary.  That's why I love horses, I learn something new every day.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Why is the 'insert beverage' always gone?

Sweet mother of god, there's not enough coffee in the world. Screw TBT, I don't have the energy to mine the archives.
Ditto the coffee...
You know know you're in trouble, post-riding lesson, when you start with a quadruple espresso yet still want to stab your eye out with a spork to distract from the fatigue.  Never mind the unfortunate side effects that come with that much caffeine hitting your system that quickly. (sprint)

Why so tired you ask?  Well, my coach asked the infamous question last night, "So, what do you want to work on?" and like an idiot I responded, "Up to you".  Cue a mischievous gleam in her eye. This didn't bode well. Neither did the quick warm up and the infamous casual words "Come on over here for a minute."

DANGER WILL ROBINSON!  I know this trick, she's trying to get me in arm's reach.  Nothing good ever came from getting within arm's reach of a mischievous looking riding coach.  (Seriously, its a good thing y'all don't play poker.)

Did she say come here?

Me: walk horse to 10 feet away
Coach: No no, come here
Me: walk horse to 8 feet away
Coach: No, really, come here
Me: Do I look that stupid?

After a few token protests (I'm old, its expected) the stirrups are crossed and out of reach of my desperate little toes.

Time to die
Walk, trot (crap), walk, trot (crap, crap, bounce)
Turn by throwing one's ass to the inside, scramble quickly as one's right ass cheek ends up alone in the air with no saddle or horse underneath it. BOING
Stop, unclamp legs and ass to prevent bouncing. Rinse repeat.

Ok, This isn't going so badly, which (of course) means we are going to canter.  Cue the peremptory "I know I'm going to hate you in a minute" and off we work on a few canter transitions

Somehow this engages my inner 'fuck it' at which point I volunteer to jump the cavaletti ... without stirrups ... repeatedly (WTF?)

Which turns into jumping a low bounce combination ... still without stirrups ...

I mean, not so bad for a dinosaur who hasn't ridden without stirrups in around 10 years and hasn't (purposely) jumped without stirrups in 20.  Its going to be a looooong winter, I may need to start drinking before lessons.

Consciousness, balance, the ability to tame one's wandering bastard of a lower leg ...

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

All My Horse Wants for Christmas, Is For Me To Stop Helping

I disappeared for a couple weeks to prep for our (likely) last show of the season. But hey, new material right?

Choices, choices.  With the choice of a dressage show or a jumper show, I decided to take the lessons of the horse trial into consideration.  Jumps = more to keep the hippo's mind busy. No jumps = mental space to obsess over the invisible gremlins (with purple spots) she insists exist to terrify (entertain) her.  Jumper show it is, meaning work on courses and stretching our (my) comfort zone.

My current coach is a great fit for this horse.  There's no time for boredom.  Did the jumping exercise right once? Change it! Need her to focus?  Its a sea of poles for her to pick her legs through.
My job? Sit up, hands forward and leg.  How hard could it be?
Either you're new here, or you know this is a trick question.
I'm a fixer.  Have a problem? I like to fix it, fiddle with it and come up with a few options.  Broken piece of tack?  Here borrow my spare reins/stirrup irons, girth, helmet, saddle pad.  Something loose?  Here, duct tape.  Cell phone acting weird?  Here, I'll take a look.  See a pattern?

So, when we come cantering into a sea of poles with trumpets blaring, I have a tendency to try to fiddle and 'help'.  I also tend to get especially 'helpful' when there are spread jumps ... you know, oxers. 'Round the turn we go, 3 canter poles ... I fiddle, horse says "WTF?" and proceeds to canter through the poles like an epileptic spider due to my aforementioned 'help'.

That is help?

Coach:  Stop doing that.
Horse: Stop doing that.
Me:  I was helping!
Horse and Coach: STOP HELPING!

Right.  Sit up, hands forward and leg.  'Round the turn we go, 3 canter poles then same with a non-spread fence. Good stuff.

We got this!
Coach:  Yeah! Like that!
Horse: Yeah! Like that! 
Me:  Awesome!

All right, we've got this shit!  Sit up, hands forward and leg.  'Round the turn we go, 3 canter poles and a spread fence. I stare at the oxer instead of the poles, we get in funny to the first pole and....

Horse turns back into the epileptic spider over the poles, leaps at what seems like her only distance choice while I scream SHIT! at the top of my lungs as we proceed to bulldoze the top poles of the jump.

Coach:  Stop doing that.
Horse: Stop doing that.
Me:  I was helping!
Horse and Coach: STOP HELPING!

Funny thing?  When I stuck to the plan, the hippo sailed through without a care in the world.
I really need to learn to stop helping.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Foot Stomping Hippo Tantrums

Well, its been a little over a week since we returned from the Horse Trial and the weather has been awful for riding.  Its been HOT and HUMID.  When I say humid, I don't mean 60%-70%, "Wow its muggy" humidity.  I mean 90%-100%, "It feels like I'm breathing hot soup" humidity.
I don't remember this moss and algae on my house yesterday...
So, there's been a lot of very quiet rides.  Riding to the lake at a walk, then walking around in the lake, then back to the barn was still resulting in a sweat drenched horse.  Even the velociraptors have been dragging their tails.  Yesterday, finally, the humidity actually broke ... to 65%!  After the past week, it felt positively chilly.

25 deg C, 65% humidity and I'm almost cold?

So, a great night to make the Hippo work for a living and the first serious ride after the competition. The big mare has decided that dressage is boooooring. I disagree, but she making it clear that working on rhythm, forward and relaxed needs some livening up. "Did you see that monster hiding inside the traffic cone?" *wiggle tapdance* "I'm sure I heard something dangerous outside" *zoom forward* "Have I told you about the dangers of barn swallows?" *twitch dodge*
Seriously, didn't you see that?
Short version, she's just screwing with me.  We both know it, which is why I've also set up some jumps to occupy her busy brain.  Low stuff, easy to blend in with the regular work. Good plan, right?

Someone has come back from the Horse Trial with higher confidence about jumping. Trotting fences is boring, let's canter! Zoom,WHEE on landing.  How about a RAMPAGE towards the fence?  Jump, land turn?  How about I start turning AS I jump? Sounds easier to me!

And if she doesn't get to do it her way? Stompity stomp stomp, pout, flounce around in a huff, act like a 1200lb toddler in the cereal aisle.  Because she knows what she's doing, and I am getting in the way of a good time.
I'm the unreasonable asshole dressed in black
Trust me, when I say that this is actually a good thing. She thinks jumping is fun and wants to get to the party. I just need to make sure she doesn't party too hard for her own good and stay on.  Let's just hope I can manage the 'stay on' part


Thursday, 20 August 2015

#TBT: Who Cut My Horse's Brakes Lines?

So, I've told you guys a bit about my old pony and my old hunter/eventer/13 years of trying ro squash a square peg in a round hole.  I haven't told much about my old event/dressage horse. What a mare. Three quarters thoroughbred and one quarter percheron, built like a rugby fullback and thought she was a race horse.  She wasn't that far wrong either.  That mare could GO!
Which caused the occasional steering problem...

Like many mares, and women, she had some rather firmly held opinions and resented being told what to do. (Get your knickers out of a twist.  We women hate being 'told'.  I know it, you know it, let's just sip some wine and move on)  There's an old saying. You can tell a gelding, but ask a mare and discuss it with a stallion.  Damned if it isn't the truth.

Go ahead, TELL a mare, I dare you

After moving the old guy on to a semi-retirement home that I wanted to move into myself, I started the inevitable horse hunt.

1) NOT A STOPPER (can't imagine why. hey?)
2) Eventing experience ideal
3) Decent jumping form
3) Accomodate the T-Rex's tail

Which led me to the eventing mare; solid, forward, not huge.  I try her out with my sister there. Its winter, we're in the indoor. Walk/trot/canter, jump a few things. Mare is taking me to the jumps, not stalling, YAY!

Barn Owner "She can ride, can't she?"
Sister "Yup"
Barn Owner "And no concerns jumping towards home? Gutsy"
... This is when we both should have paused for a second...

Ride mare a few times, like her, buy her, take her home.  Notice that she tends to 'build momentum" on course, but we're still in the indoor so no big deal right?  Then we move outside in the spring.
Bigger ring, more space, more ... ummm... momentum?

Mare has a philosphy "Sit down, shut up and hang on", combine this with an apparent lack of brakes in her snaffle ... and an irresistible love affair with the long spot. It was the beginning of some interesting lessons.
Otherwise known as the "Hail Mary Long Spot"
Which brings me to this:

Dear Eventing Snaffle purists, aka 'snaffle nazis', there exist some horses for which no amount of 'flatwork' will provide a ridable horse over fences once a jump appears in front of them.  I know you will squawk vocally that this is a rider issue. That all horses should be able to jump in a snaffle, preferably a loose ring, french link.  I would invite you to ask for the opportunity to demonstrate this miracle on one of these jumping 'attack machines', preferably XC.  I will cheerfully attend this demonstration, drink in hand as you waterski off into the sunset.

Just much ... much faster

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Who Delivered The Launch Codes?

Well, the Hippo and I completed our first Horse Trial this weekend.  Happily, this old T-Rex managed to keep the Hippo between herself and the ground at all times, which is always a cause for celebration!

Luck wasn't really with us for the dressage phase.  It ran in an indoor arena the Hippo hadn't seen yet. Open doors, hidden sounds sources, strange environment and an inexperienced horse equalled a horse on high alert.  But, we worked through it and completed so its all good in my book!

The hippo seems to REALLY like big open spaces, it might have something to do with the fact she doesn't feel restricted by walls . She can stretch out and get loose.  That was when I figured out something might have changed during our cross country jumping warm up.  We hopped a couple low x shaped jumps.  Hmmm, a little more oomph than usual but not a bad thing.

Then we jumped a spread fence annnnnd blast off!

Yup, kind of like this..

Next thing I know I'm squawking profanity as I feel myself nearly shot clear of the saddle by the power in the jump underneath me.  Holy shit, where did THAT come from?!

(All praise extra sticky deerskin seat riding pants AND neck straps AND sticky stuff to glue one's boots to the saddle.)
My deerskin breeches may get a shrine 

Evidently someone delivered the launch codes to the Hippo's jump capability. Make no mistake, this is awesome. Its also a little (lot) disconcerting to be headed to my first cross country course in a decade on a horse that has discovered its fun to jump WAY UP over fences. Off we go to the cross country field.  (Did I mention the big mare jumped her first XC fences the day before? Yeah, no big deal.)

Count down from the start box ... 5... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Go! Good luck!  It doesn't matter that we are walking out of the startbox, a gunshot of adrenaline hits my system.  Its XC, GO!

Walk out, trot to the first fence.  Hippo is befuddled.  Where are we going?  Why are we leaving everyone?  Is that log important? This field is huge!  Did you say something about a log?  Did you mean look at the log? Where'd my buddies go?  Oh crap, you meant THAT log?

(wiggle, wiggle, steer, steer, cluck, jump, we're over) This continues for the first 1/3 of the course but, god love the Hippo, she still jumps everything. By the 1/2 mark, it clicks in.  OH, you point and I jump.  Got it lady!

Just in time for her to lock onto the series of fences heading downhill. Sit up sit up goddamnit sit your giant head back in case she ... guess who re-reads the launch codes? Even from a trot, she jumps the fence like a monster! Immense power but holy crap!

Deploy launch!

From that fence onward, it was just point, sit up and squeeze.  No rush, no hesitation, just a chill feeling of "Got it lady, let's do it"

The best feeling XC round of my life, but do I ever need to take up jogging!

However, falling off on XC from lack of oxygen is WAY worse

Thursday, 13 August 2015

#TBT: Leaving Room For Interpretation

Oh look, its thursday!  Time to dive back into prehistory again.

One of my favorite sayings is "What I said and what you heard weren't the same thing".  This proves true repeatedly when you start learning to ride ... scratch that ... during your entire riding education. Its understandable when you think about it.

A rider is trying to coordinate their limbs (all 4 of them) and balance on a moving surface, while coordinating the horse's limbs, and trying to hear what their coach's instruction over their own struggle to breathe at the same time.   It might be easier to juggle pitchforks and flaming torches while reciting Shakespeare, on a surfboard.  So, a little mis-interpretation at the time is understandable.
Friggin' Amateur
Just a sidenote, but I refuse to adapt to this 'trainer' shenanigans.  If you pay the person to educate your horse, they are a trainer.  If you pay them to educate you, they are a coach.  If their primary job is to teach you, they are not a trainer, unless you are a seal...  Unless you happen to be a competitive horse riding seal, at which point, carry on! (And send video, I'm begging you, because I need to see this) Rant over and back to your regularly scheduled T-Rex

The truly epic incidents tend to happen when your coach isn't there, you're riding independently and have had time to process.

One of these incidents was back when I had my first pony, the aforementioned 'perfect pony'. There were two instructions at work that day.

  1. If she does 'x', use your stick
  2. When you can't stop, point them at the wall.  Then they'll stop.

You might be able to guess where some of this is going... stay with me.

Pony does 'x', I use stick.  I don't remember what 'x' was. I do remember the acceleration underneath me, vividly. Pony shoots forward like the proverbial scalded cat.

Not good, need brakes.

No brakes.

Pony is galloping off with me indignantly, as she has taken great affront. So, I point her at the nearest piece of the fence line of the outdoor ring while riding in the (ever so classical and elegant) water skiing position.

Did you know that 'wall' and 'arena perimeter fence' don't mean the same thing to a pissed off pony mare?
I mean, I still don't but then?  Wow.

Because I sure did when I felt her front feet lift off the ground to clear the arena fence line, which happened to be between 4' and 4'6" high. To this day, I still don't remember why I used my stick. I sure as hell remember picking myself up off the ground on the wrong side of the fence line uncertain how I got there, with my pony standing beside me inquisitively.

The main difference? Mine jumped the whole damn fence, and I was a kid.
And to this day, I haven't used a fence line as an emergency stop, which brings me to my next favorite saying.

Pain teaches ;)

Again and again ... and again

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Festivus in August

which brings me to...
5 days and counting before the Hippo's eventing debut and the packing prep has started in earnest.  I just unearthed my old pair of white full-seat riding breeches. Oh boy, those suckers have seen better days. Son of a bitch, this means I need to buy a pair of light beige or white breeches without which one may not compete in the dressage or eventing stadium rings.  

Because, nothing says 'athlete' like the sight of white or similar shade spandex stretched for dear life across a middle aged ass. 
Just not in these pants...

Its a look that is barely passable on a runway model! Seriously, who's dumbass idea was this and WHY haven't we had this rule changed?  Riding is a sport that is primarily outdoors, in all weather, with mud and a propensity to end up in it. Seriously?

Tradition, tradition, screw tradition. If we were so traditional, we women would be competing sidesaddle. I don't see anyone clamoring to make THAT mandatory. So it's not about the tradition. 

"But, its just so elegant."  Yup. nothing more elegant than mudspattered white breeches as your horse galumphs through a puddle.  Never mind the washing and re-washing hoping the stains come out, if they come out.  Even better?  The sudden display of one's underwear to the judge when your breeches fo from white to transparent in a cloudburst. (Hey look!  That one's wearing a thong! With butterflies and little hearts!)

Of course, how better to showcase the green streak(s) of slime your horse managed to deposit on your leg as you leap on?  Karma's payback for every grass stain your mother ever had to despairingly scrub out of the knees of your clothes as a kid?

My solution? Conservative color breeches, short or long sleeve shirt with collar (solid colored if you want to be fussy), tall boots or short boots with half chaps of matching color in black or brown.  Clothing, 3 phases, done.

How hard is that?

But you know I'm right

Friday, 7 August 2015

Planning ahead? Just try it

It's a miracle! We've had some uninterrupted sunshine, although it is soon coming to an end. It feels like this hasn't happened since the meteor struck.

As you can imagine, time with the hippo on a long weekend was a priority. I mean, it's not like there's stuff I can/shouldn't have been doing around the house like refinishing that cabinet, or taming my out of control garden, or organizing the house. I've got skills but evidently they apply to everything BUT housekeeping. (I blame the tiny arms and large head, makes it impossible to get at corners)

See?  No can reach!

Hippo was in fine form, happy to dance exuberantly without an excess of drama.

Save the dramatic flourishes for your own time...

Of course, it wouldn't be life with the the T-Rex without the unexpected happening. The plan on Sunday was to ride the hippo to the beach with a few velociraptors. Set a time, meet, tack, head out. Simple yes?

Not so much. 

Arrive to find out hippo has a somewhat swollen hock.  Hmm. How'd that happen? 
Velociraptor #1 preferred to demonstrate her best impressions of a leaping antelope. Velociraptor #2 complained about a front foot, velociraptor #3 complains about a back one. 

Good lord! What'd they do? Send around a memo? Whoever coined the phrase, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail" never had a horse.  With them, plan all you want, you still haven't got a damn clue what's actually going to happen.
Seriously, do they plan this?
Raptor #1 was definitely out. (We like her rider, we'd like to keep her in one piece) . Time to check the injured list.  Raptor #2? She's fine, no idea what that was about.  Raptor #3? Definitely stayed home to be replaced by his understudy.  The hippo? She didn't show any discomfort so it's the tough love, long slow hack for her

Off we go, eventually, for a steady trip to the beach. Sunshine, cool breeze, long slow miles of conditioning for all of us but what a production to get going.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

TBT: A Prescription for Success

Ahhh, Throwback Thursday.  Time to mine the vaults for a tale or two.  When you've been around as long as I have, its not like there's a lack of material. So, let's talk about competition nerves.

Anyone out there have them?  Because I do and always have. Historically, my competition nerves have been so bad that my coach started recommending that I 'drink something'.
... when I was 12/13
... with my family's support*.
Hell, my poor mother used to offer me sangria in an effort to help. Seriously, I was a nervous wreck.

Granted, in hindsight, my 'perfect pony' was actually a 5 yo appendix quarter horse, with limited training, no brakes, in its first year of showing over fences, in the hunter division. (Make it pretty and don't forget to smile!)  Oh yeah, and I was 12, and a goody two shoes.  No imbibing for me.
My brain as a child. I learned to drown that out in adulthood
Fast forward to converting to eventing with the Giant Chicken as an adult. Yes, still competing.  Yes, still panicky nervous. Yes, the money might be better invested in therapy.
Of course not! Didn't you read my post "We have a problem"?
Guess what my new coach tentatively suggested?  Alcohol!  Specifically, sparkling wine and oj aka Mimosas.  No hesitation in taking the recommendation this time, that's for sure.  (Though the laughter and enthusiastic embracing of the suggestion must have been unnerving.) Ah, mimosas, the nervous riders best friend. Because it isn't dysfunctional drinking in the am if its mixed with orange juice. Similarly Caesers or Bloody Marys but tomato juice, blech.  Plus, tomato juice and white breeches are a baaaad mix.

I don't have a problem
Welcome to the T-Rex XC course routine.
  1. Grab sippy cup (adult size) 
  2. Fill with mimosa (mostly wine, some oj for appearances)
  3. Start drinking.
  4. Walk XC course, muttering "Its not that bad" SCHLURP "It'll be fine" 
  5. Sober up for dressage
How the hell am I going to get a horse over all this?

*My parents were/are awesome. No one forced me to compete. The neurosis is entirely mine

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The T-Rex's Guide to Riding Underwear

Want a real topic to split the riders into different camps? Riding underwear.   Oh boy, does that one divide and conquer. It divides by discipline AND age at the same time.

So. Thong, brief, boyshort, bike short, head to toe body suit.  Let me provide you with the T-Rex's guide to selection of riding undergarments 

Are you young?  Slender? Not yet working on the sitting trot? Not yet read the classic equestrian literature, Riders?  Think that VPL* is a fate worse than death? 
  • Then you might want to consider the selecting the thong.  Just beware of those triple combinations when they emerge on course. T-Rex gently recommends the hunter/jumper ring.
    Young, fancy and your thighs don't touch.  You too will succumb to gravity and french fries (Mwahaha)
Are you in pursuit of that smooth, almost hermetically sealed look regardless of age?  Breathability be-damned?  Think that every lump and bump, in addition to VPL, must be conquered?
  • Then you might want to consider selecting the bike short or more extreme bodysuit.   I might recommend the dressage ring where you can sing the song of your people "Good lord, has my trainer finished warming up my horse? I'm already sweating to death"
    Seriously, who could do sports in this?
Are you less young? Perhaps you have a bit of a tail to contain? Started working more on sitting the trot and canter? Have you read Riders?   
  • Then you will probably have opted for the brief/boyshort** option for two major reasons:
    1. God help me if my breeches split on course.  NO ONE needs to see that
      The glare! My god, the glare
    2. A thong rasping away at the 'starfish' during sitting trot only needs to be experienced once.
      Yes, I mean exactly where you think I mean.
Because when you are out there on a jumping course, you don't need to feel either the 'letter in your mailbox' or the sudden and highly distracting draft. 

*VPL = Visible Panty Line
** Seamless is worth the investment to avoid similar abrasive qualities in nearby delicate regions