Thursday, January 07, 2010

Nearly There

And Then What?

One more week to go before the doctor should clear me to so some real work around here. I will be doing physical therapy to get back in shape, but just being able to pick the stalls when I want to will be a "thrill."

It's not that I particularly enjoy the barn work. Sometimes I even hate the effort, but I prefer to feel independent. My friend Donna, who is doing the chores for me, insists the loves it. It serves as therapy for her and is very soothing. I can understand that to some degree, but sometimes the chores really do become....well a chore. Still, there isn't much more satisfying than watching your content horse settle into a newly bedded stall with lots of fresh hay to eat. Absolute bliss....

Which reminds me of one of my pet peeves about the rest of the world's perception of us horsefolk. I can only remember ever seeing one TV commercial that showed what it's really like. I think the advertisement was for Dial soap. The scene showed a sweaty, dirty, tired, stringy haired but beautiful women finishing up the barn chores.

Otherwise, what do we see? Women in silky white dresses gallop along the beach on white horses, their hair (horse and woman) blowing in the wind. Pristinely coiffed and dressed slender blondes leading shining mounts--usually tacked up with some conglomeration of mixed bits and bridles. A handsome hero lifting his fair maiden up behind him on the back of a shimmering equine for a stroll through a misty meadow?

Dang. If I rode my horse in a silky white dress the first thing I would get would be some pretty dreadful chafes in places I shall not mention, and the white dress would be grimed with horse sweat and greened with horse drool.

Come on, folks!

The rich housewives of fantasy county have their well groomed show mounts handed to them so they can mount, canter over the two foot jumps and then walk away hardly brushing a strand of hay from their shiny boots. And even when you see someone working in the barn, they are always forking huge flakes of bright, fresh clean straw instead of soggy, heavy masses of used bedding.

And then there is the concept of riding. I can still remember a commercial where a little kid was given a pinto pony for a present. Immediately, he jumped on the horses back and galloped off across the field as his doting parents just stood there smiling. People are alway just mounting up and galloping off. When was the last time you did that? Even racetrack riders don't do that. It creates another false image. I can still remember allowing one of my male relatives to ride my PJ years ago. It started off OK, but within a moment, before I could say anything, he gave PJ a kick, and off they went. Picture a 16.2 h, retired FEI dressage horse responding to a kick? Fortuately, PJ also had good sense and was in the fenced in arena, so it was relatively easy to get him back under control. My fault for not giving clearer instructions before I let him ride, but the kick was just another symptom of the world's perception of horseback riding.

"Gone With the Wind" celebrates another misconception about riding. OK, I know people get hurt when they fall off horses. I've been hurt myself. But in the movies, a fall is usually fatal. First it was Scarlett's father as he tumbled off after a jump, and then it was her daughter. Artistic destiny, I suppose, but I've also rolled away safely from a number of falls myself, even over fences. On the other hand, with that kind of publicity about the dangers of riding, you'd think it might make the average "Let's go rent some horses" riders a little less bold about kicking?

Riding is a wonderful sport. Caring for horses is an amazingly rewarding experience. Both are hard work. Horses are glamorous, mysterious, mystical, and breathtakingly beautiful creatures, but owning one is often a sweaty, smelly, tiring experience.

Hey, Hollywood! Do you think someday you just might show it all like it really is?


  1. I don't think Hollywood is ready for what it really is. Maybe we should all get together and do a show of our own and let non-horsey folk know what hard work it is and we could showcase our less than white clothes with horse goobs instead of the billowing gowns of the fair princesses! By the way I saw one housewives show with some idiot in the barn talking about her connection with her horse after she handed it off to a groom. The jumping course was small and she chipped almost every fence. But she thinks she's a great rider and I know somewhere in the recesses of my mind from being around the horse business and trainers that she really is being taken for a ride and not by her very expensive mount.

    Glad to hear your recovery is coming along and you will be your independent self in no time.

  2. Anonymous12:19 PM

    Those are surely valid peeves! The only good I can see from the Hollywood fall-off-and-die portrayals is at least it might induce some more people to wear helmets, which really do save lives.

  3. So true! I never come home from the barn without messy hair, dirty face & hands, and horse slobber on various articles of clothing!!

  4. Funny post! I just have to roll my eyes at the glamorization of horses and riding. The most common comment I get from people when they learn I have horses is "Ooh, I love horses. Can I come ride?" The second most common is "You must have lots of money!" My answers: "My horses are crazy, you don't want to ride them" and "Hahaha! I don't have any money, I have horses!"

  5. I rather like keeping it "Our Secret"