Sunday, April 28, 2013


All I could think about while watching the jumping phase of Rolex today is how much I'm dying to get up there and do that. Come on, Lex! She's a long, loooong way from being broke enough to jump courses, but we'll get there.

While tacking up this morning, Lex was shaking her head a lot because the flies were bothering her ears. I was all, "I have tack for that!" and she got to try on an ear net for the first time. She certainly looked lovely in it and since all the cool horses are sporting them now, she can stay on trend.

Do horses who wear these still get to eat carrots?

This morning we hacked around the field with my friend Susannah on her big, big, gorgeous draft horse cross named Belle. I've been thrilled to ride Belle a couple times while Susannah was on vacation, and she is F.U.N. Especially once you get her going, which isn't always the easiest thing, but what a trooper. I used to have some pictures of her, but I had a phone/computer SNAFU a few weeks ago and they must have gotten lost. I'll get one tomorrow. She's a doll.

I think this morning's ride was good for Lex because we changed it up a little bit. We walked for a long time, and it areas of the fields she's not used to being ridden in. She's turned out there, and she's not spooky, so she didn't look at anything, but there were times when she was like "Let's TROT!" And I remembered Sharon saying she, personally, wouldn't be riding this horse in the fields yet. Hee. I can see why. But she was fine, really. The only time it took me more than a couple strides to get her back to the walk was when we were walking straight towards the barn. We did a lot of walk-halt transitions around the field (partly to let big old Belle catch up) and she stood nicely all but one time. Even that one time, she just kinda squirmed. Then when we got to our trot work, she was forward at first but quickly got the "slow down" hint so well that I had trouble keeping her trotting even though I had a loop in the reins. Considering our last ride, I'll take it.

I'm so cool. I'll jump ALL your jumps with my new hat on.
When you get off and your horse looks like that - calm, maybe even sleepy, but still alert and happy - I feel like it's a job well done. AND in a cool new girth (Note to self: TACK. REVIEWS).

Today I also watched this clip that Stacey over at Behind the Bit took at the Thoroughbreds for All event at Rolex on Friday. I am dying to go to that. I think I want to see that at least as much as the cross country day, so I'm hoping I can get there in the spring! Anyway, this video shows Cathy Weischoff talking about the natural horsemanship training she does with her horses. Sold. I'll get the rope halter out more often.

When I was a kid I rode in a million Cathy Weischoff clinics and always liked her very much. Maybe I'll ride in another one someday.

And some final thoughts on Rolex: The jumping test was great. No refusals or falls, let alone scary ones, but about a billion rails. I'd much prefer to see peoples' placings rise or fall on rails and time faults than on stops and falls, which I think goes to show that the jumping course was as thoughtfully-designed as the cross-country. There was some really great riding out there, and very few clear rounds. It looked tough, and like a whole lot of fun. I was talking to one of my very dearest friends online while watching XC and SJ yesterday and today. He's been to Rolex with me once, and he loves horses but isn't overly familiar with the sport. We made a couple observations:

1. Where are all the people of color?! This is not news, that equestrian sports are INCREDIBLY white, which has a whole lot to do with where the privilege is in this country. Even though I'm a grad student and don't have much of a horse budget, I still come from a relatively privileged background with parents who are capable of making sure I don't starve or go homeless and can take me, my pets, and my horses in if we need a place to go. Dissertations have been written on race and privilege in the US for a solid 100 years now, I reckon, so I don't need to reinvent the wheel here. But it's worth noting that white people dominate this sport and we could probably find ways to make it more open to POC. The Chronicle ran a story a little while back about Junior Johnson, a well-known handler on the hunter circuit, and how he still faces prejudice. I have many critiques of the article, which I won't get into now, but I think that we as equestrians could do a better job with inclusivity, and that will take active effort, not just saying, "Well no one I know is racist, so it must be fine." Clearly, it isn't. Let's brainstorm! How can we get kids who aren't white into horses from a young age and make them accessible? (Note: the equestrian sport with the highest proportion of POC riders is probably thoroughbred racing, where there is a ton of misogyny. Great.)

2. While I typically always root for ladies, I didn't feel a particular need to in Rolex. Women did great, and I'm always happy when a woman wins something athletic (or political, for that matter) when competing against men (unless she's Sarah Palin, Michelle Rhee, or Michelle Bachmann, because they are awful). But I feel like everyone already takes women seriously in eventing. I don't feel a "we need this for our team!!!" sense of urgency. I think if a man tried to make the case that women can't hold their own, we'd only need to point him to Pippa Funnell, the only human to win the Rolex Grand Slam. I honestly don't think anyone could make it in eventing, or the other English disciplines, if he tried to say women can't handle it. He'd never get the support and connections he needed to succeed because no one would want to work with him. And that, I think, is what gender equity looks like. I just wish we didn't have point #1 to contend with.

3. None of the Rolex riders are out as LGBTQ, if I'm not mistaken. Either they're all straight or they're not open with their sexuality, and I'm guessing it's the latter, given the odds. In fact, I'm not sure I can think of many riders who are out at the top levels in any discipline. Darren Chiachia is the only one who leaps to mind and he's not really out there repping for Team Rainbow. It isn't his job to do so - I'm not saying he's doing anything wrong - but it'd be cool to get a little pride going in horse sports. Anyone know of any other out professionals? (Let's not out people against their will - I'm just asking if you know anyone who is out to the public.)

4. Congratulations to Andrew Nicholson and the beautiful Quimbo, and to Lynn Symanski and Donner (an OTTB!!!) who came in fifth even though Lynn was riding with a broken hand. Badass.

All righty! Off to clean the house so the people watching the cats don't have to contend with the enormous mess that it is right now, then teaching a lesson. I hope it's fun for all involved!


  1. 1) Your horse looks adorable in her fly bonnet. I happen to be obsessed with fly bonnets, and I approve.

    2) Very little LGBT outwardness in equestrian sports in general I feel like. Not sure why that is, I don't see the community being oppressive in that way but then again I don't really know what it feels like to be on that side of things.

    1. 1) Thank you! I have a fly bonnet she's not allowed to wear yet that I scored on Tack of the Day in our colors. I'm saving it for the shows I hope we'll go too eventually. :)

      2) Yeah, I agree that it doesn't seem as aggressively homophobic as some sports. I think there are probably way more gay men than women. Where the ladies??!

  2. I am one of the few African Americans/Hispanics at H/J shows in my area, but there are more every year. Paige Johnson (Salmander Farms) is the biggest African American name I know. Hispanics include Nacho Figueras (Polo) and Rodrigo Pessoa, and the Chilean rider Tomas Couve Correa is pretty good, competing a lot in Europe!

    I believe that Karen O'Connor and Marilyn Little Meridith are dating, iff'n I heard correctly. And the grand poobah of them all is openly gay, the Great George Morris. I think Robert Dover is gay too. Most of the boys I crushed on my circuit were gay (didn't stop be from crushing though, I can appreciate a nice looking dude on a nice looking horse).

    1. I remember Paige from back in my HITS days when we were both juniors! I'm sure she doesn't remember me. I recognize all the other names you mentioned (obviously Pessoa!). I think there's also a class issue here, which comes as no surprise. Competing at the top levels is SO. EXPENSIVE.

      Is George Morris *openly* gay? I've heard rumors for years but never heard him say anything about it. I've heard that about Robert Dover, too, but again, nothing from the source. I'd be REALLY surprised if Karen and Marilyn were dating. Karen and David are still married, I believe, and while that doesn't mean Karen and Marilyn AREN'T dating, it would be a super unconventional set-up. But, you know, that's life.

    2. KOC and DOC are caputs, divorced. And GM is Openly Gay as he brings his boyfriends to the big awards dinners!

    3. Woah! You know ALL the T, grrl. Come sit here by me.

    4. LOL I heard it from someone who is supposedly in *The Know* and if they are wrong I will strangle her because that was the juiciest gossip of 2012! And seriously I was like "You go KOC!"