Friday, February 27, 2015

Snow Bunnies

Texas Winter finally decided to show up and put on a game face this week. I basically just gave up on working O and threw my hands in the air. I was literally iced into my house on Monday and Tuesday, then another winter storm came in and snowed on us Wednesday, then it snowed even more on Thursday, and today it has been a nonstop blizzard for 6 hours. I am supposed to be heading down to Austin for the Horse Bloggers Weekend, but I'm snowed solidly in - I barely made it home today with my life. The roads are INSANE - they don't treat them at all here, so everyone just flails around and hopes for the best. I know it's not anything like what the Great White North has gone through this year, but it's pretty sucky for us. I'm not feeling it. And I'm really disappointed that I'm not on my way to Austin!

Pissed off

Not feeling it

I moved down here to get away from the snow, but it follows me down once a year, every year. I need to get a restraining order or something. It's not me snow, it's YOU. 

Yesterday's snow. That all melted by yesterday afternoon. We got 4" today, and counting!

I also caught some pics of O trying to eat my jacket. I can't leave flymasks or blankets on the fence with her around - she plays with them, and destroys them! P won't play with her, so she doesn't tear blankets when they are on (although I've seen her grab her own blanket and yank on it when she wants it off), but I have a feeling that she is going to have a lot of fun with a foal around. I'm willing to bet they'll play like wild animals.

Yes she is playing with my coat. I need to get her a ball or something!

I gave up and decided O could just have the week off. There's nothing to be done about it really - it was too icy most days to go down the road, and it's too wet to use the fields. Instead, I put my time to good use by sleeping in a lot, and trying to make sure I am getting organized for the upcoming show season.

SprinklerBandits just did a post about some of the problems with riding traditions. She's totally got a point about some of the traditional attire we wear... I mean, why in the heck would we wear wool things in the dead of summer? Just because it's traditional? I have no idea. It's a good question.

That said, I think we have made insanely huge leaps and bounds in terms of improving traditional attire. Nobody really wears wool anymore. We have ergonomically shaped bits, and bridles, and girths, and saddles, and saddle pads, and boots. We wear coats that stretch and breathe, boots that zip, breeches that move with us. They *look* traditional - or sometimes they don't! - but it is a far cry from the single joint snaffle, same-tree-for-everything saddle, basic flat pad, wool coats and no-stretchy poofy thigh breeches of the past. But we keep up that look, because it ties us in with our roots. Same reason we keep rituals and other traditions alive - it keeps us in touch with our past, our history. But traditions can be fluid. Think of how many people wear ATSM approved helmets now - no more tophats or hunt caps. We acknowledge our history while improving upon it at the same time.

I think it surprises people, but I happen to be firmly on the traditional side of attire, although I'm not sure why aside from the fact that I had it absolutely burned into my brain as a youngster. When we were younger we had to wear polished tall boots, clean breeches, a belt, a tucked in polo (or form fitting jackets/sweaters/turtlenecks in the winter, nothing baggy), approved helmets, gloves, and a hairnet if we had long enough hair - and it had to be up under our helmet, no ponytails. Our horses had to be thoroughly groomed, our tack had to be clean, and everything had to be neat and workmanlike. If it wasn't, we got kicked out of our lessons and sent back to the barn. At shows it was the same - if we wanted the judges to take us seriously, we dressed for the part, and we made sure our tack and our mounts were shining, spotless, well braided. When actively showing, I am always the one out there still wearing my coat even long after coats have been waived for the day. I want the judge to take me seriously. I want them to know I am here for business. 

The traditional side of me stops there. I'm about as non-traditional a person as you could possibly imagine, in thoughts and appearance, especially for this area. I'm a far cry from the blonde cowgirls that traditionally dominate this area. Hell, I have half my head shaved, and I'm happy to talk your head off about my leftist, feminist, queer, socialist theories all day long. There is nothing about me otherwise that likes to follow the rules.

I do wonder sometimes what draws me in to more traditional-type horse sports. I guess it's just a weird part of who I am. I feel ill when I put my hands on biothane tack, or see ill-fitting equipment, or beasts that are not suitably turned out for whatever show they are partaking in. I love the look of polished metal, and gleaming leather, and shining, healthy horses. I guess driving is really a natural fit for me in this way.... I feel like rolling around in total ecstasy when I see patent leather collars and blinders, gleaming brass, sparkling vehicles, and glowing horses. I guess I'm just really into shiny things, or something. Weirdly enough I am completely non-traditional when it comes to horse care... my beasts, even the show ones, live outside 24/7, eat grass hay 24/7, only have hay pellets and a vit/min supplement as their grainfoods, and are barefoot.Yes, I use bits, and yes I do clip and blanket if they need it, but other than that I just let mine be horses. It has really, really paid off in terms of their sanity and health, and I won't compromise on those things no matter what.

Part of the fun of driving is the tradition of it. In a lot of classes, your attire, your vehicle, your harness, and the whole harmonious picture all get judged. There are certain requirements for ladies and gentlemen - for us, basically a jacket/blazer, brown gloves, an apron, and a hat/helmet - but you can get as crazy with it as you want (within reason). You match your attire to your vehicle, to your horse, and to your particular type of turnout (formal/sporting/etc). And to your particular fashion tastes as well, if you like! In trying to piece together my turnout for the upcoming show season, I decided to stick with a navy/cream theme. My vehicle is navy with baby blue pinstripes - the baby blue is really subtle. I've spent a fair amount of time pouring over pictures of ladies' turnout attire, and looked at the attire of the carriage maker when she was using this cart to show in, and made choices based off of those ideas. I wanted to incorporate the navy in, but lighten it up a bit - black is too dark, and too much navy just makes everything melt together into a blue blob. My horse is bright orange, so she'll be the thing that sticks out most. I decided therefore to go with navy and cream, to brighten things up a bit.

Prepare for the dorkiest thing you have seen all week:

Devil horns for posterity. The only time this hardcore feminist will wear an apron
Oh yes. Thank you Ebay for the cheapo cream jacket and navy scarf (hard to tell in the pictures but it is a nice looking touch in person, I think). The apron is navy/cream and reverses on the other side to navy if I was so inclined , but I think it is a really good balance as it is. Add a dorky hat and a broach, and voila! Dorkfish outfit complete. Both the jacket and apron are a bit too bit for me and definitely have some frumpiness to them, but you won't be able to see that in the ring really. At least I hope not.

Picture it with this:

And add a navy ear bonnet to O with a cream border that matches the jacket (and a gold braid to match the harness brass). I'm fiddling with the cart to change the hardware to brass - adding a brass rein rail, brass whip holder, brass footman's loops, and brass shaft tips. I'd like to do brass hubcaps too, but as the carriage maker is probably still mad at me for not helping out with the games days, I'm not sure that will happen. I can do all the rest myself, but not the hubcaps. 
I'd like to get a better breastcollar and traces for O, but that will have to come when I have a lot of extra cash laying around. Mine is perfectly useable and I don't really have an excuse to get a new one if mine is still totally fine. It's just a flat strap, but there's nothing wrong with it. The breastcollar pad will have to come off for the show ring, but I plan on leaving the saddle pad on. It might dock me a few points in the ring but I'd rather my horse's back be comfortable, especially because I don't have a sliding backband on my saddle. Same goes for the crupper - I have a fleece pad on there, and I don't plan on removing it. I'd rather she be comfortable - especially because without it, she gets the butt-squinches.

So what do you think? Nice looking or totally dorkfish overload?


  1. I also like traditional stuff. Not wool jackets, but I do like real leather. I'm really sick and tired of fake leather crap. I'd rather clean and condition real leather and have it last forever than buy plastic tack.

    I also think it's fun to dress up for special activities. You look very fancy in your outfit; good luck.

  2. There is something just beautiful about gleaming leather on gleaming horses. Despite all my support for synthetic, I've only ever bought leather saddles because I just can't bring myself to do otherwise. So I've currently got 3 leather saddles, all beautifully made by Australian saddlers using gorgeous leather.

    The showing attire you've put together goes beautifully with your tack, vehicle and horse - very nice! If you had just a little bit of russet/rust somewhere, say maybe in your navy scarf, I think it would look awesome too. Good luck, hope the weather improves!

    1. I love that suggestion! I will see what I can come up with - maybe either in the scarf or in a brooch!

  3. I'm with you on traditional with a twist! I take full advantage of lighter tech coats in hot weather and show shirts with armpit venting & you bet my schooling and show boots have zippers. I shy away from trendy albeit allowed colorful garb for both Pongo and myself, but that's driven by the fact my horse makes a loud enough statement all on his own. That's the breaks when you buy a polka dotted pony!

  4. Super nice looking! Very classy!

  5. I also enjoy shiny things lol. Your apron is totally rock n roll too - pulls it all together nicely! Stay warm in that weather :)

  6. Hey! My favorite pair of office slacks were Summer Weight Wool. Good stuff ! LOL! Doesn't wrinkle like Linen.

  7. I like it!! I'm just like you when it comes to horse care except I don't clip because I don't ride enough in the winter to justify it. :-) I hate that you missed the blogger weekend. I wasn't able to go anyway but if I had I would have been iced in too. Winter sucks!