In the summer of 1973, after three years of begging, pleading, and promising I would never ask for anything else, ever, my mom gave in and let me start taking riding lessons. From that day on, I seized any opportunity to spend time with horses.
Once upon a time, when Thoroughbreds ruled the hunters and breeches were rust-colored on purpose, riding clothes were stiff, uncomfortable and unforgiving. They needed to be handled with care, dry cleaned and, worst of all……ironed.
Ironing long-sleeved cotton shirts was a dreaded horse show task—which we simplified by rationalizing that only the cuffs and collars showed, so why iron the rest?
Few milestones in life are anticipated with greater joy than bringing home your first horse. Having a horse is in many ways like having a child who will never grow up, get a job and move out of the house. Also like a child, until you actually have one of your own you really don’t know what you’re in for. To assist with your transition, I’ve cataloged some of the life changes that you can expect as a new horse owner.
Who would think that a smart phone could be of any use in the daily routine of a horse person? Not me. But while researching some recent projects online, I discovered an incredible variety of smart-phone “apps” designed for the equestrian.
Some, like those that manage your horse’s vet and farrier schedules, appeared well thought out and useful. Others, however, seemed to have been designed by people with no real understanding of the horsey sect.
Like EquiClock, which promised to “wake you to a variety of horse sounds.”
A trainer is a unique breed of equestrian. Trainers are long-suffering individuals who act as teachers, cheerleaders, therapists, guides and mentors. They coach us tirelessly through our ups, our downs, our fears and our shortcomings, share the joy of our accomplishments and help us shoulder our disappointments.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the role technology plays in the horse show world. Show management can now be done entirely online. Riders can download apps to review tests, plan course strategies and learn to keep a canter rhythm.
But I have an even better idea. Let’s take all these voice-activated interactive guidance systems and develop an app that we can take into the arena to, say, talk us through our medal course. Our trainers can only yell so loud, and once we get out of earshot or screw up to the point that they are forced to deny knowing us, we’re on our own.
A movement to inject more excitement into the hunters is currently underway. The intent is to bring back the thrill of the original sport, where bold Thoroughbreds galloped across open fields and displayed bravery and brilliance over natural obstacles. Let’s make the fences bigger. Make the courses more complex. Set a time limit.
There’s a lot of buzz these days about the “equestrian lifestyle.” Magazines depict it as perfectly turned-out people wearing impeccable hunt coats, $400 breeches with brand names you can’t pronounce and exotic-hide boots that cost more than a good two-horse slant load.
They might be standing next to a sports car, or a horse trailer the size of a cruise ship. In the background, a private tree-lined road leads to a lush, manicured equestrian estate that stretches until the curvature of the earth (or maybe it was the edge of the page) cuts it off.
Hitching a ride with a horse-owning buddy? In the interest of full disclosure, here are a few things you may wish to consider.
Dear non-horse-owning friends:
I am perfectly willing to do my part when it comes to taking turns carpooling, driving to the movies or being the designated driver on our girls’ night out. But before you ask me to provide transportation for any purpose, please take note of the following:
To my mind, one of the greatest culinary inventions for aiding and abetting foxhunting families has been the self-basting turkey. It most certainly has been a boon to our ménage, as Thanksgiving Day on our farm is noted for being a miracle of logistics.