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Thursday, April 28, 2011

"School For Young Riders," Cont'd

I really was highly entertained looking through my old and battered book, so I hope you don't mind looking at a few more photos from within. Here's a shot that brought back memories:

The reason why this rings a bell is the jumps. We had some of the exact same kind on the "outdoor" course we used at 4-H shows when I was a teenager. These same jumps, and field, were used during the very large AA-Rated Monmouth County Horse Show, still held every year back home in New Jersey. I never rode in that show, but I still think it's neat that I was able to show at least using the same courses as the "big-leaguers."

Anyway, anyone who's younger will probably be surprised to see these natural brush jumps, with the upright boxes and strictly fixed parts. Unless you're talking about one of the hunter derbies, which are thankfully becoming more popular, you won't see them in a hunter ring anymore (and even then, I bet they are "frangible" now). Guess what - we used to have to show over real hunt field-type jumps! Imagine that! We showed in the ring, too, with striped poles on standards with a nice ground line laid out in front, but by golly, we were also expected to go out and careen around (at least in my case, sorry to say) a bunch of natural jumps on grass in a great big field. 

Here's another kind of jump we had:

Yikes, natural timber! Okay, so I didn't show over anything this high (3'6" was my limit, and that was only a couple on course, not all the fences), but I know I jumped some real fences like this in my day. No wonder I'd get so freaking scared I'd forget to breathe. It would take a lot of persuading to get me over something similar now... but I still think jumps like you'd actually find when fox hunting belong in today's rings.

This photo I also found interesting for a comparison to today's positions and tack. Again, we see a lovely automatic release, with the horse jumping freely and happily. The rider's position is examplary: head up, eyes up, seat out of the saddle just enough. Her heel is jammed securely down, a bit surprising since the stirrup is so far back on her foot. She's grinning away and actually looks like she's having fun, something I really appreciate!

This must have been a Corinthian/Appointments class, requiring all the proper hunting tack and apparel. I like the flying sandwich case. Want one of those now? You're going to pay: Antique sandwich case (that's over $300, on average). Yowza. A more modern one can be purchased here, but you're supposed to call for the price. You know what that means!

Other anomalies to today are the mile-long coat, the enormous open-bottomed stirrups (ouch, I'll stick to my Sprenger knock-offs), and the velvet hunt cap with the nearly useless elastic chin strap. This one must have been pretty new because it still looks tight. We also see more and smaller mane braids on modern hunters, but these, and the tail, look very nice.

Overall, this photo just makes me smile. A horse and rider whooping it up in the show ring, both doing well what they clearly love. Wonderful!

Finally, here's a page where we learn that kids back then, despite the sheltered lives, still found creative opportunities to try and do themselves in:

What the -- ?!?! Caption says, "Pair jumping minus tack is fun." Sure, until somebody breaks their neck! Even as a kid the thought of this curled my hair, especially since the pony had a roached mane. Nothing to grab in an emergency looked like a genuinely Bad Idea to me. Excellent riding here, nonetheless: I tried jumping bareback with a bridle one time, and wound up in the dirt.

As for the mounting over the butt and standing up, there's plenty of people now who think this is a swell way to advertise their fugly backyard steed. "Lookit here, ah kin stand on 'ole Spot the Walkerpintaloosa stud. He may not know nuthin' 'cept breedin' mares, but by golly, he's DEAD QUIET for standin'!" :-)

P.S. Thank you for your comments, I truly appreciate them!


  1. My god, I love your blog! You are taking me down memory lane.

    I remember reading this book like a bible. I use to stand on the stairs of my parents house with the tips of my toes on the steps pushing my heels to the ground and then standing on tip toes to make my calfs stronger.

    I can only hope that book is somewhere in storage. Just the best!

  2. P.S. I use to vault over Herbie's back and take the jumps in the schoolie back field with nothing but the wind in my hair! How did I not die?

  3. Oh, I did the stairstep thing too!

    This book was my BIBLE, and it was even outdated when *I* got it. But it totally emphasizes the value of an independent seat and COMPETENCE as a horseman.

    Of course, I found out later that "Kit" in the book was played by Kathy Kusner. Uh huh.

  4. Wow, Cattypex, really? She certainly could have been a more enthusiastic model. I guess she was just trying to convey the seriousness of the whole enterprise. :-) I was always wildly jealous of her nice clothes and of course the cute horse. I wonder what Kathy is up to these days... *heads off to Google*

  5. Somehow I never saw that book!

    And I'll 'fess up. I did all the things pictured in the last photo. Without a helmet, too, of course!


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