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April 27, 2014

High Tech Eq

Cartoon by Jody Lynne Werner

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the role technology plays in the horse show world. Show management can now be done entirely online. Riders can download apps to review tests, plan course strategies and learn to keep a canter rhythm.

But I have an even better idea. Let’s take all these voice-activated interactive guidance systems and develop an app that we can take into the arena to, say, talk us through our medal course. Our trainers can only yell so loud, and once we get out of earshot or screw up to the point that they are forced to deny knowing us, we’re on our own.

If the jumpers can have their fences numbered and the dressage people can have a helper call out their test, it’s only fair that equitation riders be allowed a little help as well.

I imagine that if I went in to the ring with my talking “Medal Manager” app, the dialogue might go something like this:

Good afternoon! You have activated the Medal Manager app. Your course and order of go have been programmed and I will be guiding you through your round.

You are now two away.

Please stop checking for new text messages and get on your horse. What? Well, you should have gone before you came to the ring. It is too late for that now. You will have to hold it. Please get on your horse. No, I do not know where the mounting block is. Well, ask for a leg up then, I cannot help you there.

You are next in the ring. Heart rate and respiration exceeding recommended rate. Please relax, breathe normally and proceed to gate. No, no, do not go in yet. There is another horse on course. Do not go in yet.

Please wait for horse on course to finish. Do not block gate. Horse approaching. Look out. Look out. Look out.

Please get back on your horse.

Where are you going? No. We have already gone over this; it is too late for that. You have to hold it. Please get back on your horse.

It is now your turn.

Please enter the ring. I said enter the ring. No, I did not say back up. Go forward. Put your leg on. Trot forward. Do not trot sideways. Left leg. Left leg. No, the other left. I said left. Okay, now you need right leg because you pulled the right rein. No, I did not say pull the right rein. Do not pull the right rein. Do not pull any reins. I will tell you when to pull the reins. Please pay attention.

Begin canter now.

Please choose just one lead. No, not that one. Oh, you had it there for a moment. Go back to the other lead. No, the other other lead.

Please begin courtesy circle.

That was not a circle. Circles are round.

Fence number 1 directly ahead. No, that is not fence number 1. Please look at fence number 1. No, the brown one. The other brown one. It is not my fault that they are all brown. If you want colored fences please sign up for jumpers next time. Take-off in three, two…..you are not supposed to leave the ground on “two.”  Please wait for the “jump” command.

Single oxer on diagonal approaching. Do not slow down. Do not slow down. Apply leg now. APPLY LEG NOW. Single oxer in three, two….oh snap, you did it again. Please listen to me count next time.

Go all the way to end of ring. Do not cut the corner. Go all the way in to corner. That is not the corner. That is nowhere near the corner. Do you know what a corner looks like?

Outside line approaching. Current trajectory not recommended. Please correct path. Do not jump the standard. Do not jump standard. Do not….whoa, that was close. Oxer in four, three, two,....grab mane. Grab mane. Too late. Are you even listening to me? 

Please go all the way into the corner this time. No, not that far. You are too close to the rail. Look out for the…..oh snap, that looked like an expensive banner you just tore off the fence.

Do not look behind you. The jump crew has been alerted. Keep your eyes ahead.

In-and-out approaching. Decrease in pace detected; please apply leg. Leg not detected. Please apply leg. Leg not detected. In-and-out not advised at current pace.

Abort, abort, abort. Make circle. That is not a circle. We talked about circles. Do you remember when we talked about circles? Circles are round. Please make only one circle. That is still not a circle. Please make only one of whatever it is you are making. 

In-and-out approaching again. Sudden increase in speed not recommended. Stop running. Stop running. In and out in three, two…..dammit are you trying to kill us? That was not an in-and-out. In-and-outs have just one stride. I do not know what that was.

Do not look behind you. The jump crew has been alerted. Keep your eyes ahead.

Rollback to brush box imminent. Turn now. Turn now. Brush box in three, two, one….. that was not the brush box. The brush box is the jump with the brush in it.

Pay no attention to the announcer. Keep going.

Trot fence at end of ring approaching. Trot now. Trot now. Trot now. You do know what a trot is, don’t you? Try harder. You can do it. Trot now. Keep trying.

Walking fence not advised. Please trot. Leg, leg, leg. Too late.

Please get back on your horse.

Pay no attention to the announcer. He is having a bad day. You paid for 10 fences and you are going to jump 10 fences. Please resume cantering.

First element of bending line approaching. Prepare for halt after vertical. No, no, not yet. Apply leg. Stop trotting. Canter. Canter now. Whoa, there was another whole stride there. Pick reins up. Pick reins up. Both reins. Halt now. Halt now. Halt now. Halt now.

Halt means stand still. Please stand still and count to five.

Okay, just count to five then.

Now you are facing the wrong direction.

180-degree turn on haunches advised.

Those are not the haunches.

That is not a turn.

You are now facing a different wrong direction.

Please reverse. I don’t care how. 

You can stop counting now.

Prepare to resume canter. Canter now. No, not that lead. Nevermind. Salvage fence at all costs. Apply leg. More leg. More leg. More leg. Whoa, that was a flyer.

Do not look behind you. The jump crew has been alerted.

Please retrieve your stirrups up and prepare to exit arena. Transition to trot now. Stop galloping. There is no gallop test in this course. Do not gallop out the gate. Do not gallop out the gate. Do not gallop out the gate.

Exiting arena imminent. Watch out for gate person. Avoid trainers and ponies outside arena. Coffee tent ahead. Perform evasive maneuvers. Look out. Look out.

Please do not get back on your horse.

Congratulations. You have completed your course with Medal Manager.

Would you like me to locate the nearest bathroom facility now?

Oh, never mind. I see you already went.

After years of trying to fit in with corporate America, Jody Lynne Werner decided to pursue her true passion as a career rather than a hobby. So now, she's an artist, graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist, web designer, writer and humorist. You can find her work on her Misfit Designs Cafepress site. Jody is one of the winners of the Chronicle's first writing competition. Her work also appears in the Dec. 2. 2013 Amateur Issue print edition of The Chronicle of the Horse

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