BORN THIS WAY, THANKYOUVERYMUCH

Standard

Noun
equestrienne (plural equestriennes)
1. a female equestrian
Noun
equestrian (plural equestrians)
1. an equestrian person; a horserider
Adjective
equestrian (comparative more equestrian, superlative most equestrian)
1. of horseback riding or horseback riders

In celebration of Thanksgiving, I wanted to use today to remember who I am, and where I’m from. Truth be told, I don’t know that I could recall every soul who guided me on my path, but I’ll do my best to at least sketch out a highlight reel.

I say, “born this way,” because my family is in agreement that there was no other reason for me to have had the love of horses in my blood. Upon examination, we weren’t able to come up with a single relative, immediate or otherwise, who had or loved horses like I did. The best explanation we could conjure up, was laying the blame at the feet of Mom’s OB/GYN, who wasn’t present for my birth, because of an emergency on his horse farm. He never argued (largely because we never presented him with this evidence, but still…), so that’s our story.

Mom and Dad never DIDN’T want me to have horses, they just didn’t know it could be done if you couldn’t keep them at home, and lacked the information and experience. Looking back, I’m thankful I didn’t have one as soon as I could form the sentence, “I want a horse!” I wouldn’t have been as prepared. They did their best to offset where they could. Dad found a rental stable where we would go on guided trail rides sometimes. I remember Key, a small bay horse that I usually rode, and Dreamer, the Palomino who was Dad’s regular mount.

image

During my childhood, I amassed a collection of My Little Ponies, Breyers, and a few Barbie horses. I was disappointed in Barbie. Despite the television ads, depicting her riding “Dallas” unaided, I found her to be a terrible rider, she had to be held constantly, and she never picked up after her horses. She also didn’t fit inside the cab of the green plastic truck I used (for “farm” chores), so she had to ride in the back, like a common hillbilly. It wasn’t long before I cast her aside completely, and allowed all my pretty little horses to manage themselves.

It wasn’t long until they weren’t enough. Luckily, in our neighborhood, there were a few families with horses, and that’s where I got started. Thank you to the Boylan, (then) Bussey, and Snedden families, for the hours spent in your barns and pastures. Thank you for Blaze, Crescent, and Baby Gold; Wakonda, Midnight, and Beauty; and Baby. The lessons you taught me were invaluable. You gave me the foundation every girl needs, in becoming an equestrienne.

image

Once I joined 4-H, I gained access to more horses and their humans, all as happy to teach me, as I was to learn. Patti and Gypsy (the first horse I ever showed), Michelle, Smokey, Devon, Jasper, and the rest of the barn full of Clydesdales and Shires. You and your parents were so wonderful. Thank you for always leaving your barn door open to me, and for being the first ones to step up and offer an answer to a difficult question. “I just won a horse in a raffle, now what?” 4-H not only introduced me to the members of our club, all locals, but to kids and their horses from all over the county.

Never having the luxury of being able to keep my horses at home, I met many wonderful people and horses in boarding. Mary and Rusty (Reya’s boyfriend), the Kelley family and Peanut (the only pony who could “out-alpha” Reya). Thank you for giving us friendly homes away from home. In Todd’s barn, I met Studley and a variety of others, where I learned all the important tasks that can only be taught by doing them to an entire barn full of horses. It was there I perfected grooming, clipping, banding, braiding, and leg-wrapping. At Lynda’s barn, I was introduced to Whiskey, Garth, Slick, and a handful of broodmares and babies. There is nothing more soothing than the velvety nose of a baby horse. In those two barns alone, I was introduced to many people who are now life-long friends.

image

I’m eternally grateful for the two horses I’ve been lucky enough to call my very own, Reya (my raffle ticket win), and Buddy (my true north). Reya, despite having been a broodmare for many years prior to my acquiring her, took to showing like a trooper. She wasn’t meant to be a show horse, but she worked so hard for me, and taught me so much. She was as good a mama to me, as she had been all her colts and fillies. Buddy, he’s my angel. He guides me now, just as he did when he was still here in the physical world. If I do nothing else in my life, having been “his Mama” was by far, my greatest accomplishment.

I’ve often said, good horses are born. Great horses are built from the ground up. I think I’m kind of like that. I was born loving horses, and with time, experience, and exposure, became an equestrienne. I’m thankful for every horse, pony, mom, dad, and friend. Without you, there is no me ❤

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, may the holiday bring you joy and peace!

Advertisements

PARTNERSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT, AND AN ENGLISH TO ENGLISH LESSON

Standard

I’m proud to announce a new partnership, with Sam Hobden, and her website, “Haynet” (www.hay-net.co.uk). Sam founded the site in September of 2011, after she began blogging, and discovering there really wasn’t one central place to find other equine blogs in. By creating her page, she’s built a home for equine bloggers, though UK-based, where all are welcomed and encouraged to share (and membership is free!). It isn’t so much a website, as a community. She’s pleased that the members have embraced the idea of posting on the network and communicating with each other, and truly enjoys learning about everyone through their posts. From personal experience, in just the short time I’ve been a member, I’ve been made to feel very comfortable. Once I got set up, I began with a simple post to say hello and introduce my blog to the other members. I received immediate responses from other members, greeting me in turn and welcoming me to the site.

With my new “family across the pond,” and the visiting Brits in my day job office yesterday, as I often am by day to day activities, I was inspired. While Equine proves to be a universal language, the individual dialects tend to vary by region. Compliments of a quick troll through Wikipedia, here’s a quick reference guide to some common words and phrases that sound a little different, depending on where you take your boots off at night:

image

1. In the US, we have “footing,” in the UK, it’s known as “going.” If I were in the UK then, would I ask, how your horse is going in the going?
image

2. In the US, our horses wear “halters,” in the UK, they wear “headcollars.”
image

3. When saddling in the US, we put a “pad” under our saddles, in the UK, you’d use a “numnah.”
image

4. In the US, you’d then do up the “girth strap,” but in the UK, you’d use the “billets.”
image

5. It’s getting colder, in the US, we’re putting “blankets” on our horses to keep them warm and dry, in the UK, they’re wearing “rugs.” From my tack store days, I remember selling one from Rambo called the “Wug.” I hated selling it, because I always wondered if people thought I was either not very smart, or had a speech impediment.
image

6. If you can’t keep your horse at home in the US, you’d keep it in a “boarding barn,” keep it in the UK, at a “livery.”
image

7. Inside that US barn, you’d find “box stalls,” in the UK, “loose boxes.”
image

8. An unhappy stalled horse in the US might “stall-walk or weave,” so following suit in the UK, you’d have a “box-walker.”        I had a mare that was a weaver in her stall, and sometimes when I sat on her at shows, which could rock me to sleep!
image

9. They might do better turned-out in the “paddock,” in the US, or the “yard,” in the UK.
image

10. In the US, we all hope for an “easy-keeper,” and in the UK, a “good doer,” to keep feed expenses reasonable.

 

No matter which side of the pond you’re from, I’m sure there are plenty more words and phrases I’m not privvy to, feel free to comment and share!  Any time you get to visit another pin on the globe, it’s nice to get familiar with the vernacular, and share a little of your own.  I’m looking forward to more sharing with my new Haynet friends!

 

 

HOSTAGE CRISIS

Standard

image

When I worked in the tack store, I took advantage of my discount, and purchased the one, top of the line, luxury item I could afford. Ariat field boots (retail in early 2000’s, $500). Over the years, I also wore them casually, why not? Everyone else was in the tall boot craze, I’d been ahead of the curve! I haven’t worn them in several years, and in fact, had to get them from my closet at mom and dad’s house. I’d forgotten and left them in the garage overnight, so they were a little cold, but despite not having been softened by wear in many years, I got them on this morning, and went on with my routine, taking the dogs out. In that 10 minutes or so, I realize they probably won’t be comfortable for all day wear, given how stiff they are, and I should take them off. As perfectly as they fit, I was always able to shimmy out by myself, but not today.

I call for reinforcement (a la, my boyfriend, still in skivvies and socks), he pulls, I wiggle, nothing happens, except the Chinese Handcuff effect. The gorgeous, contoured fit of the boot creates a vacuum. My calf muscles start to cramp. I am trapped.

For fives years in the tack store, I dealt with this situation, and am proud to say, I never got a customer into a pair of boots, that I wasn’t able to get them out of. Today my record fell. In a calm, non-rushed-to-leave-for-work scenario, it probably would have ended differently. I could have gotten more comfortable, relaxed my legs, and we could have worked them loose. There was no time for calm and relaxing, we were both now running late. I feel sweat start to bead on my scalp, and the pulsing cramps developing in my legs. As sick as it makes me, I grimly look at my boyfriend and say, “get the kitchen scissors.”

I laid facedown on the bed so he could see, and (at least!) get to the back seam, of my beautiful, worked-so-hard-for boots, I hear cutting, then ripping as he turned into the Incredible Hulk and tears the seams apart by hand, and finally, the relief of blood flow to my lower legs again.

He has to rush off, and I’m left sitting on the bed, looking at the wounded remains of my boots. Luckily, I think they’re salvageable. A cobbler should be able to repair the back seams and make them appear good as new again.

I texted my boss, and the couple of women who would wonder where I was, to let them know I’ll be late, and explain briefly my crisis. They’re glad I’ve survived, and can’t wait to hear the story. One woman I told, was mortified that we cut them, because they’re so expensive. I said, “I can get new boots, I can’t get new legs! I’m not Lieutenant Dan!”

This is not how I expected to start my day…

PRO’S PERSPECTIVE: ASSISTANT RIDER AT THE SPANISH RIDING SCHOOL OF VIENNA

Standard

Admittedly, lacking a passport, does make some of these interviews logistically challenging. The silver lining to that is, any time I’ve asked a person or organization for their assistance, they’ve been tremendously gracious and forthcoming. I guess, in a way, I’m getting my blog passport stamped, and this week, I’m in Vienna, Austria.

The Spanish Riding School, a significant part of Austria’s cultural heritage, is not only the oldest riding academy in the world, it is also the only one where the High School of Classical Horsemanship has been cherished and maintained for over 430 years.

image

Through a LinkedIn connection, who’s a Chief Rider, and their lovely PR contact, I’m introduced to a 21 year old Assistant Rider by the name of Christopher Egger. Christopher began with the Spanish Riding School in September of 2008, as an Eleve. Based on his description, apparently I’ve been an Eleve for many years, who knew I actually had a distinguished title!? “As an Eleve, you have to groom the horses, keep the equipment clean, take care of the horses… You start riding on the lunging line and get lessons every day. Later you also start riding the young stallions and get lessons on a fully trained School Stallion. If you are able to successfully ride a fully trained stallion in the performance, you get promoted to Assistant Rider. I became an Assistant Rider in Spring 2012. Now I’ve got a young stallion, Conversano Allora, and I have to train him until Performance Level (Grand Prix Level).”

A typical “day in the life” begins at 7am, and ends around 1pm. As an Assistant Rider, you no longer have to handle your own grooming, all the “dirty work” is performed by the Eleves, who Christopher explained, “are all very good horse people.” Spoken with the voice of experience, I suspect.

Christopher is responsible for riding and training three horses during his day, and the teams that are formed, remain throughout your performance time. His young stallion, Conversano Allora, is still in training, so he does not perform yet. He has a school quadrille horse from the 1st Chief Rider Eder, Maestoso Fabiola, and on horse for All Steps and Movements of the Classical School from Chief Rider Hausberger, Favory Dubovina. He has yet to tour with the troop, but I suspect, is eager to.

Two of Christopher’s favorite moments, occurred when he got the phone call that he could begin his career as an Eleve, and later when he was promoted to Assistant Rider, and received his first stallion to train.

I asked, when you see the photos and videos online, or if you’re lucky enough to witness a live performance, it all seems very serious, is it that way all the time? His response was, “while sitting on the horse it IS all serious stuff, but off the horse, for sure we also joke around!” I also asked what seems to surprise the spectators the most, when viewing a performance, his answer, “perfection and harmony.” I remember the challenges of only having to take my own horse and myself through a ride, let alone having to match stride for stride with other horses and riders, and to music… yikes! Intense stuff!

Christopher also went on to explain, that even to the least horse-savvy person, when you enter the Winter Riding School, it’s such a special feeling, and so rich with tradition.

image

Photo credit to the Spanish Riding School, and Stefan Seelig, thank you!  You can learn more about their traditions, riders, and stallions at http://www.srs.at, and follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SpanischeHofreitschule

What’s your favorite horse film?

Standard

http://www.equusfilmfestival.com

The Equus Film Festival (#EFFNY) is coming to New York City on Friday, November 21st and Saturday, November 22nd to highlight and award the diverse and creative efforts of those in film and advertising, who artistically pay homage to the horse through media.

This is the first film festival orientated around equestrian themed content from around the world. The films and commercial content show the rich history and diverse tapestry of the horse in human culture. The festival will feature more than 50 films and creative works running across three separate screens.

Here’s a list of the top 30 horse movies, as collected by the horse channel…

http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-fun/30-best-horse-movies.aspx

I remember a friend of Dad’s who owned a movie rental store when I was a kid.  He called Dad every time he got in a new horse movie that he knew I’d want to see.  Thanks, Ora, and Newark Video, for developing my equine filmography love!