PAT SMITH: Having Fun With Different Riders
This week's column comes from an anonymous author. I think the observations are funny because they have an element of truth in them.
You may see some of yourself in some of the descriptions.
The Hunter Rider: Is slightly anorexic and trying her best to achieve the conformation of a 17-year-old male in case she ever has a clinic with George Morris. Field marks include greenish-beige breeches and a baseball cap when schooling or mud-colored coat and hard-hat with dangling chinstrap when competing.
She forks over about a grand a month to a trainer for the privilege of letting him/her "tune" up the horse, which consists of drilling the beast until its going to put in five strides on a 60-foot line no matter WHAT she does. Sold the thoroughbred (and a collection of lunging equipment, chambons, side reins) and bought a warmblood.
The Dressage Queen: Has her hair in an elegant ponytail and is wearing a visor and gold earrings sporting a breed logo. A $100 custom jumper (also with breed logo) is worn over $300 full-seat white breeches and custom Koenigs. Her horse, "Leistergeidelsprundheim" (Fleistergeidel for short) is a 17.3-hand warmblood who was bred to be a Grand Prix horse. The Germans are still laughing hysterically, as he was bred to be a Grand Prix JUMPER, but as he couldn't get out of his own way, they sold him to an American. His rider fell in love with his lofty gaits, proud carriage, and tremendous athleticism.
She admires him mostly while lunging. She lunges him a lot because she is not actually too keen to get up there and try to SIT to that trot. When she rides, it's not for long, because (while he looks FINE to everyone else), she can tell that he is not as "through" and "supple" as he should be, and gets off to call the chiropractor/massage therapist/psychic.
The Eventer: Is bent over from carrying three saddles, three bridles, three bits, and three unrelated sets of clothing (four, if she is going to have to do a trot up at a 3-Day). The hunched defensive posture is reinforced by the anticipation of "a long one," a ditch and a wall, and from living in her back protector.
Perpetually broke because she pays THREE coaches (a Dressage Queen, a jumper rider and her eventing guru, none of whom approve of the others) and pays trailer/stabling/living expenses to go 600 miles to events that are spread out over five days. She is smugly convinced that eventers are in fact the only people in the world who CAN ride (since Dressage Queens don't jump, the H/J crowd is to afraid to go OUT of a ring, and the fox hunters -- a related breed -- don't have to deal with dressage judges).
Her horse excels at over-jumping into water, doing a head first "tuck and roll" maneuver and exiting the complex (catch me if you can!) before his rider, now separated from her mount, slogs out of the pond. Often stops to lick the Crisco off his legs before continuing gaily on to the merciless oxer jump just ahead.
Patricia Smith can be reached at fotobyTocco@vbbi.us
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