Friday, May. 24, 2024

Chronicle writing competition



My first horse was a 7-year-old Appendix named Jagger—also Jaegger, Jaeggermeister, Little Sh!t, and (his show name) Rollie Pollie. He was short in stature (15.1-hands), big in scope (jumped 5’3”), and monumental in attitude. But of course I loved him. He packed my green, teenage self around every cross-country course we started. 

Embarrassing moment? Only one? Once you're a certain age, just showing up in the ring can count as an embarrassing moment. It’s the self-conscious curse of the aging adult rider, at least we ordinary amateur ones. We’re not talking the echelons of Beezie Madden here.

They say it isn’t paranoia if someone really is out to get you.

To that statement, I would add that it likewise isn’t just bad horse show luck if your beloved (but opinionated) horse really is out to sabotage your dressage test.

OK, maybe sabotage is an exaggeration. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that, during one particular test, my beloved (but opinionated) horse taught me a very important lesson in a very public way.

Get up at dawn of crack. Fumble in the dark, pull on mismatched outfit, head for horse show. It’s 4 a.m. Why isn’t Starbucks open yet?

Arrive at showgrounds, get exhibitor numbers from office, try to organize riders and schedule for the day.

Have Advil and coffee for breakfast.

Where are my riders?

Find riders for warm-up class. School riders. Holler same three instructions 15 times. Each.

Realize this is Day 1 of five-day show. Enthusiasm wanes.


I’m an amateur dressage rider, and I compete on occasion in schooling and recognized shows. At 50, you almost have to have a sense of humor and perspective about athletic pursuits. I tell friends that having a great horse (Harvey) and a great coach is a victory in and of itself. Doesn't that sound mature and virtuous? But as much as I’d love to be on the moral high road, here is the real story.

Getting Ready For The Show



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