Books, Rants

Let Them Be Accursed!

I recently found a gem at Second Story Books–a bound collection of articles from a magazine founded in 1927 called Horse and Horseman. It covers a variety of disciplines: polo, steeplechase, flat racing, Western, and of course foxhunting. Back then there was a lot of debate about the forward seat vs. the old-fashioned  “lean back and hang on somehow” method of jumping! But the great thing about foxhunting is how much of it remains the same over the decades–the upholding (and breaking) of certain sacred rules.

In that vein, I brought this passage from the book to our most recent hunt meet to share with friends. You could call it a foxhunter’s prayer–though actually, it might be more accurate to call it a curse.

From Horse and Horseman anthology, 1967

“The Foxhunter’s Creed of Thomas Young”

Article 1.–Let every man present himself at the meeting place sober, suitably clothed, and in good time. He that rideth his hunter steadily to the fixture is better than he who useth a covert hack. He that useth a bicycle or tandem or motorcar or any manner of machine, let him be accursed.

Article 2.–Every man shall at the meet salute and speak words or comfort to the huntsman and the whippers-in. He shall also count and examine the hounds. He shall then salute his friends. He that shall say, “It will be a bad-scenting day, let him be accursed.

Article 3.–It is lawful and right that those of experience shall carefully give explanation and encouragement to all young persons and instruct them by word at all times, so that foxhunting shall continue in the land from generation to generation. He that thinketh he knowth but knowth not, let him be accursed.

Article 4.–Every man shall remember that the ground he passes over is not all his own property. He that useth not due care, let him be accursed.

Article 5. He that leapeth or breaketh fences unnecessarily, let him be accursed. He that talketh loudly or often during the day, let him be accursed. He that weareth an apron or mackintosh on wet days, let him be accursed. He that rideth over or hurteth any hound, let him be everlastingly damned.

Article 6.–If it be possible, let every true believer of the Faith abstain from all food or drink during the day, save only sufficient to sustain life in case of need. The whole day to be kept as special fasting and strengthening of the mind in the Faith. He shall partake of food and drink in the evening. Verily, after a good day he shall partake of a special allowance of drink.

Article 7.–Accused be he that goeth home of his own free will before hounds do.

Article 8.–He that killeth or taketh a fox by any means save by hunting, let him be accursed, Yea, let him be everlastingly damned. May his dwelling-place become desolate and his possessions a desert. May his soul be filled with bitterness and his body with pain.

Article 9.–He that believeth these articles and doeth them, let his life be long.

Article 10.–May the Scarlet never be brought into dishonour.

 

If we be accursed who cares!!! Photo courtesy Pat Michaels

A bit harsh BUT nevertheless hilarious. We were all accursed on Saturday for using trailers rather than hacking to the meet on the road. That would have made my ride about 2 hours longer.

I would add a few to the list of the accursed:

  • he who knows not how to tack his horse (ie. galloping boots put on backwards, bits attached to the bridle completely wrong…yep, I have seen it!)
  • she who looks not where she is going
  • he who partakes of an extra “special allowance of drink” DURING the hunt and falls off his horse
  • she who neglects the cleaning of her tack and horse (I guess back in the day they had grooms for that!)
  • he who calls out “ware hole” for obstacles that are completely irrelevant and not in the path of anyone. Congratulations, you identified a hole in the distance!
  • cars and bikes that zoom down country roads as if it’s the Beltway!

And I would STRONGLY second the cursing and damnation of he (or she!) who talks too much! Often, it tends to be the person who “thinketh he knoweth but knoweth not.” Nothing wrong with asking questions quietly of course. But not incessantly or just to hear your own voice! To me that is the worst etiquette fault because it affects everyone else’s enjoyment of the moment and it can even distract hounds.

Who would you curse in the hunt field? I think anyone who hunts has their shortlist of pet peeves.. Now whenever I see an offender I will think to myself, “Let them be accursed!!!”

 

Rants

It’s so hard being fortunate enough to ride

Seriously, this is what people complain about?

“NOT SHOWING IS NOT THE END OF THE [HORSE] WORLD” by Sarah Mahoney, HJU

“Blurred Lines in the Horse World: What it’s Like to Not be a Wealthy Equestrian”, HorseHack
On the face of it, it’s kind of hilarious. Boo hoo, poor me, I have a horse but I don’t have the time or money to show! But I do remember feeling similarly to these writers when I was in high school. I definitely felt “less than” sometimes when I would see the girls whose parents bought them $60,000 Warmbloods tittering about something funny that happened at the weekend’s A-rated show, or casually hanging their show team jackets on a jump standard, or rifling for fly spray in their lovely wooden tack trunks.

Of course I wished I had the means to ride more, but I think these girls never even knew what they had.  Now that I’ve seen the light of foxhunting, I feel very sad for kids who think that just because they can’t afford to spend $300+ to ride for 10 minutes in the show ring, they’re somehow less of a rider.  I felt that way too, since I didn’t know there was a world beyond the cliquish, snobby hunter-jumpers. I was extremely shy, so I tried to reason with myself that I was at the barn to ride, not to make friends. I looked for excuses to hang around the horses–cleaning tack, mucking stalls, or just watching lessons. Eventually, I did make a friend who wasn’t part of the show clique either. We raced our horses in the pasture and jumped rickety piles of wood we definitely weren’t allowed to jump.

Now I’m still doing the same thing–with more friends who have an equal level of horse insanity, a more cantankerous gelding, and even more questionable jumps, one of which I affectionately call “The Pile of Crap.”

My masterpiece

I say this with love, because I’ve been there–but if you are feeling sooo sad for yourself because  you can’t show, quit whining and start riding! There is so much more out there to enjoy–and at much less cost. Go gallop around a corn field. Race around an empty pasture. Leg yield down the driveway. Jump a course in the arena (or do your best impression of it, like I do as I careen haphazardly near, around, on, and–rarely–over the jumps). Volunteer at a rescue, ride green horses, ride the geriatric pasture puffs owned by little old ladies–whatever it takes to get hours in the saddle. It can be done without spending a fortune, and without ever trying to squeeze your butt in an expensive pair of Tailored Sportsmans. In my opinion it’s a lot more fun that way!

A discovery on the trail
Rants

5 things I don’t get about equestrian blogland

So, confession: I started this blog when I was feeling kind of stuck with my old blog and disenchanted with the equestrian blogosphere in general. I was tired of the contests and blog hops and the endless pontificating about saddles fitting or not fitting (I get it; it’s frustrating, but also terribly uninteresting to anyone but you and your horse). I decided I was going to leave all the nonsense parts of blogging behind and just blog FOR ME. No blog hops, no “X Things That ____” type articles, no validation needed from anyone. I am a blogger, hear me roar kind of thing.

But I miss the pageviews, okay??

 I know that in the grand scheme of things, my old blog’s pageviews and comment count were pretty insignificant. But once you’ve experienced the “They like me, they really like me!” high of comments, or randomly woken up to one of your articles on the front page of Reddit, all you want is another hit (or 1000) to make you feel like all the hours of trivia and navel-gazing are worthwhile.

Click to enbiggen

So today I’m going to revert back to my comfortable old “X Things That ____” style. And in the spirit of cantankerousness, my theme is various things that drive me nuts about the equestrian blogosphere.

And before you jump down my throat (all one of you out there) I completely recognize I am part of the problem. But it’s my blog so I’m allowed to complain. So there!

Trends du jour

Have you ever noticed how one person buys XYZ…and then suddenly EVERYONE is buying XYZ? (coughOGILVYcough) Oh the commercialism! Stop! You do not need one more saddle pad!

Following trends does not a rider make
Flickr: carterse/ CC

Mango Bay belts

And while I’m on the subject of trends, there is one that I find infuriating enough to merit its own section.

Mango Bay Design

They’re just belts, for crying out loud. Sure, they have horsey patterns, but otherwise they look like what came free with the khakis from Kohl’s my mother bought me in middle school.  Why is seemingly every equestrian blogger obsessed with them? I have no idea.

How in the world can you afford ____?!

Custom saddles, custom boots, training rides, show after show after show–first of all, why? And second of all, how? I know that there are reasonable answers to these questions but my initial reaction when I hear of extravagant expenses like these is always WTF?!

That’s not to say I am immune from boot envy.
NY Social Diary

The pressure to comment just to comment all the freaking time.

A few times I have seen bloggers mention something like, “Oh, so sorry I haven’t been keeping up with commenting but I have been reading everyone’s blogs.” Seriously? Do people have a list of blogs they read and feel like they must comment on every single post? I guess it’s fair if you want people to comment in return, but doesn’t it make life so boring if all the comments are nonsense placeholders like, “Your horse is so cute” or “Loved this”?

It also peeves me (a lot of things peeve me, you’ve probably intuited) when I see bloggers who respond individually to every single comment. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Stop making the rest of us (me) look bad.

Trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result

I’m totally guilty of this (though I didn’t really write about my struggles because I’m a big old weenie), but it’s so obvious when you’re looking in from the outside, and you read about a rider being unbearably nervous every single ride, or a horse being consistently mediocre (or sometimes, spectacularly terrible) at shows or other outings.  

Why are you torturing yourself with this horse/this discipline/etc.? I just want to comment. But I don’t. Instead I just grab the popcorn and await the trainwreck. And I bet most blog readers/writers would be lying if they said they haven’t ever enjoyed a little schadenfreude themselves!

Well, now that I’ve insulted and alienated anyone who is reading…what bugs you the most about the equestrian blogosphere?

EDIT: One more pet peeve, after a friend reminded me of it. Moving up from 2’6″ to 2’9″, or 3’3″ from 3′ is not as big a deal as people think it is!! If your horse can stand over the jump, he can probably jump it from a trot. It’s generally the person who makes a big deal about moving up in height, not the horse.

Ahhh. It feels so good to let it all out there. Especially when I have so few readers to blow up at me.