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Friday, April 22, 2011

These Boots (and Book) Were Made For Ridin'

It's hard to believe that my now size-8 1/2s ever fit into these, but here's a pair of my actual boots that I wore as a wee squirt at Tricorne Farm:

They look like they're fit for hanging on the wall at Cracker Barrel, eh?
Yes, these are terribly old-fashioned jodphur boots with leather straps, and slick leather soles that would cause you to wipe out on a smooth surface before they were broken in. Everybody had them back in the equestrian Dark Ages, aka the 60s. If you didn't ride in these you rode in tall boots (I had those in rubber, if you recall). I'm not quite sure how this pair has stayed with me so long, as my mom stayed active in the student tack exchange, but as a fan of nostalgia I'm very glad to have them. They sure don't make 'em that way anymore! All the jods now have elastic sides, and I believe only saddle seat folks wear them. Everything in hunt seat, even with the elastic sides, is billed as a paddock boot and laces or zips.

Regarding the book in the photo: does anyone recognize that? "School For Young Riders," by Jane Marshall Dillon, was practically considered the Bible of horsemanship at Tricorne. I can't remember if I needed to bring it with me to regular lessons, or just to summer camp, but I know for sure we were expected to read it and absorb as much as possible. I think we were quizzed from the end-of-chapter tests in there as well. And speaking of old boots, check this page out:

There they are, billed as "jodphur shoes." That's pretty goofy. I personally never heard them called anything but boots. Now, the tall boots look pretty familiar: yep, just like my trusty real leather pair, finally purchased ca. 1978 (a good story)! No Spanish tops on those babies, although mine also didn't come with garters (I have never understood what on earth those were for, anyway). The POW spurs and the canary vests haven't changed a bit, though. Here's another photo to illustrate equestrian fashion from "back in the day:"

This gal was named Frances, and appeared in a number of photos. I always thought she looked rather sullen and not sufficiently appreciative of the miraculous life she lived, owning her own (very cute) horse.
Here we have an older girl modeling baggy, pre-Lycra jodphurs with garters (those come with Velcro closures these days, I see - is there nothing sacred?), the aforementioned jodphur boots, a curtain-length jacket probably made out of hopsack, and a purely decorative velvet helmet. The horse is sporting a flat saddle with a minimal pad and a flat leather bridle, which nowadays is viewed as very utilitarian and strictly for serious hunting.

Here's a photo that illustrates one more thing that's hardly EVER seen any more, but I think... maybe... possibly... is making a bit of a comeback these days. A certain Mr. George Morris has certainly tried his darndest for a zillion years to bring it back. What am I talking about?

Why, the automatic release, of course. Now THAT is riding with an independent seat and hands, folks! Beautiful. I myself would experience a swift meeting with the ground if I tried it (I hope our unhelmeted friend there never did), but if you look at old-timey riding photos, everybody's doing it. Nowadays we see everyone up to and including Olympic jumpers using a crest release.

I apologize for the crummy photo, but you can just make out that there's an end-of-chapter quiz to the right. "An adult male horse of the type used for general riding is called a...?" Have to giggle here - I guess The Operation said male horses experienced is not to be referenced. Children led much more sheltered lives in the pre-MTV/Internet era, let me tell ya! However, I think I knew the answer, and the proper spelling of such, when I was five, but a large majority of today's Craig's List advertisers certainly don't...

{See next post for more photos & discussion from "School For Young Riders!"}


  1. how cool that you have those boots. And yes, the top riders of that era did a lot more letting the horse do the job and following after, rather than the active way they are ridden today

  2. I got on the older editions of this book at a charity shop when i was 12, I think considering its age it still relevant for today it is only missing recent new materials used in Pads etc...
    I ask all my students to buy this cause its one of the best books for younger riders.


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