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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Not Too Easy On The Eyes

There actually were not that many ponies in the Tricorne school horse string: most of the mounts were full-size horses. In some cases, extremely full-size:

Here I am galumphing along on Budweiser. This faithful steed was a Belgian cross of some sort, and I'm guessing he was around 17 hh. Even though I'm a bit older here than in the other photos I've shared so far, you will note that my feet still barely reach below the saddle flap (and the oversized felt pad). Didn't faze me a bit! He was a good boy and I don't remember having any trouble with him. No idea what I thought when I cantered and jumped him, though... I'm sure it felt just a wee bit different than riding Little John.

You can see the exterior of our indoor riding arena behind us on the hill. As I mentioned earlier, this building was made of concrete block and very sturdy. Yes, there were windows, but the light that managed to filter through years of accumulated dust, dirt and cobwebs was pretty weak. Gloom definitely prevailed light-wise but I generally didn't care, since I was having fun.

I like the outfit I'm wearing here, especially the rust breeches. I've read that some people are trying to revive that look in today's hunter ring and I think it would be GREAT. Raise your hand if you're sick of every hunter rider looking exactly like the next one in their dark conservative coats, Charles Owen helmets, and greige Tailored Sportsman breeches - occasionally someone will turn a wild hair and wear a - gasp! - different-colored riding shirt than what is currently considered "in," but that's about it. Seriously, I have wild fits of jealousy over saddle seat riders in their beautiful custom suits and cunning little derby hats. Why can't "we" have a little more variety? Now, I don't know about the Western ladies with their mega-bling and eyeball-searing colors, but for pete's sake, how about a little change-up, people. Too bad I'm not a 16-year-old Big Eq rider or I'd... well... I'd probably get some of those spurs with the eensy rhinestones on the sides, AND wear rust breeches, and have a couple of judges keel over in apoplectic fits.

Having said that, I don't think this look is gonna catch on any time soon:

You can't really tell from this poor quality photo, but that jacket was TANGERINE. Bright orange. And guess who made it for me with her own two hands? Right - Mom. So there was no question that I would wear it. I remember not being entirely thrilled with this choice (I think she had the material left over from some other project), but what are you going to do. Plus, it was the sartorially splendid Seventies, so I imagine I probably fit right in. ;-) Now the choker, on the other hand, I absolutely adored. This was also handmade by my clever mother and neatly embroidered with my initials. Yes, I still have it. A lovely souvenir of early riding days. (And if you're beginning to think I keep everything, you ain't seen nuthin' yet.)

A note on my boots: these were rubber tall boots. I had outgrown the jodphur look (Or had I? Stay tuned.) and needed something to ride in, so I went through a couple pairs of these. Leather boots were out of our price range and these squeaky, floppity-flop things were the best solution. At least they were waterproof! The main thing I didn't like was they were always miles too big in the calf. There's a reason some unkind people have called me "chicken legs"... I'm afraid I inherited my stick-like calves from my mother. Since I also got an extra-large helping of "horse fever" I'm not going to complain.

The horse in this photo is yet another one of Tricorne's taller equines. "Easy Does It" was an OTTB and also around 17 hh. In addition, the dear boy had a neck the length of a school bus and roared loadly with every (oversized) step. Heaven knows they must have had a special pair of custom reins made, since I can actually see some bight in them. I remember this day and this horse show. Not only was I red-faced about the tangerine jacket, but I was made to ride poor Easy, who I normally avoided. His strides were gigantic so you were thrown a mile out of the saddle on every post, the roaring from his broken wind was audible at 20', and steering felt like turning the QE II in a duck pond. Not good! However, he was a very sweet horse, and I managed to overcome these perceived handicaps and place second in whatever class we'd been in.

I'm afraid I must end on a sad note. I was riding one day towards the end of my Tricorne years (about 1974) in the outside lower ring. A truck pulling a small horse trailer went up the driveway, and a short while later started back down. From within the trailer I could hear loud, plaintive neighing. "Who's that?" asked someone in my lesson. Our trainer answered, "Umm... it's Easy." Silence. We all knew he wouldn't be coming back from wherever he was going. He was old, had always seemed rickety, and then there was that awful roaring... It was my second brush with equine mortality, as you will see, and I still don't know what they did to dispose of horses in NJ at that time. I hoped then and still hope now that Easy met a peaceful end. He deserved it.

1 comment:

  1. I can totally relate to the rust breeches - had a pair, loved them, showed in them - and homemade coat (mine was blue, but still . . . my mom was a great seamstress but you could just tell it didn't come from the tack place) and the rubber tall boots. Those were the worst. How could anyone expect you to keep your heels down in them? My developed cracks at the front of the ankles from the heel-down position.


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