Category Archives: Opinion

The Name Game

Horses are named all kinds of things: some aim for the more classic names like “Spot” for an appaloosa, “Blaze” for a horse with a blaze, and so on. As times have changed, so have names. Like an opinionated horse woman, I have formed strong opinions about names use given to horses: some are cute, and some just aren’t. Here are kinds of names I adore, and three I truly hate:

Love:

  1. Famous People. Having ridden a ‘Anne Sullivan’, a ‘ Sammy David Jr.’, and a ‘Gandhi’, I will admit that there is something innately cute about horses named after famous people (given that they are not named after someone bad). Naming your horse after Barack Obama in my eyes is too cheesy, and naming your horse ‘OJ Simpson’ shows a lack of taste…but hearing horses named ‘Clark Kent’, ‘Jane Eyre’, and ‘John Wayne’ do make me smile. Naming your mare ‘Helen Keller’ isn’t recommended….just for superstitious reasons.
  2. Food. Admit it, when ponies are named after food, it can be hopelessly adorable. My own horse, Crackerjack fits his nam perfectly. I’ve sat on several horses named ‘Popcorn’, ‘Oreo’, ‘Spud’, and even a few ponies named ‘Hershey’. You can never really go wrong with food names: even ‘Figgy Pudding’ puts a smile on your face.
  3. Classic. When in doubt, the tried-and-true names are sometimes the best option. ‘Splash’, ‘Dancer’, and ‘Spot’ are all classic names that you can feel comfortable telling your kids. Especially with ponies, keeping it simple can be easier for kids to remember: try explaining to a 4-year-old that their pony’s name is ‘Corsair’ or ‘Chardonnay’ and see how that goes.
  4. Song titles / Lyrics. Admittedly, the most classic kid-friendly song titles and lyrics are the best to use. I’ve heard of a few very cute ‘Rocket Man’ ponies, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ jumpers, and ‘Sweet Carolina’ New England ponies. A good rule to go by, is if you can’t tell your grandmother your horse’s show name…don’t use it. An example? I’d steer clear of any song by ‘Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, 50 Cent, Steel Panther, or any song that involves the word ‘b-itches’ or ‘h-es’.

Hate:

  1. Rappers. Now before I go into this, I will concede that some names lend themselves well to horses: ‘Slim Shady’ is a good fit for a slim darker horse, and I would be impressed to compete against a horse named ‘Immortal Technique’ or ‘Idle Warship’….I might even take my hat off to a ‘Hopsin’ with two blue eyes. That being said, I cringe whenever I hear that someone has named their horse (showname, mind you) ‘Free Weezy’, ‘Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em’, or ‘Birdman’. I can understand devotion to these artists….but at least with equitation horses, I feel like seeing ‘Free Weezy’ or ‘Gucci Gucci’ on the scoreboard during a prestigious competition kills the mood somewhat. But like I said, I’m split on this: if the name fits the horse, I am willing to endorse it. I can see ‘Teach Me How To Dougie” taking off….or even “Gangnam Style” becoming the next hot pony showname.
  2. Branded Alcohol. I genuinely don’t enjoy when horses come in with brand name liquor names. It just doesn’t feel classy….even ‘Grey Goose’ feels a bit forced. Similarly, I don’t think its in any way classy to name a pony after liquor when the kid on him is well under 21. Somehow, types of wine never seem that bad: ‘Chablis’ actually sounds pretty classy, as does ‘Merlot’: Somehow ‘Gin and Juice’ and ‘Jose Cuervo’ don’t have the same ring to it.
  3. Drugs. I have rarely heard of any horses with drug-influenced names. Very rarely. But as a warning, I sincerely hope no one starts by naming their mare ‘Have You Found Molly?’, ‘Heroin’, or ‘Opium’. Just don’t.
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Old School vs. New School

The more classic look. Image courtesy of Equine Now.

As the sport of riding has evolved, so has its apparel. Once, riders wore helmets that were thin and offered little protection. At another time, they added clear plastic or elastic head straps to keep the helmets on their heads. Now, technology has enabled more advanced equipment that offers more protection and comfort. However, as these classics have evolved, are we losing some of the formal notes that made the sport so dignified?

Oh, now those are a tad bit loud. The hi-tech knee…ribbons…don’t really help..Image courtesy of Horse Zone.

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Monsters In The Corner, And Other Horse-Eating Creatures

Anyone who rides has inevitably encountered the equine version of the ‘Bogeyman’

Image courtesy of Horse Junction

Whether its the shadowy corner of the indoor, the flapping plastic bag in the wind, or the wild animal running past the outdoor ring, horses can get scared pretty easily. Even the bravest of equines fall victim to the shadowy creatures of their fears inevitably, but there are some great ways to avoid falling on your butt when they turn tail and run. Here are some things to keep in mind when the evil creatures of the shadows descend upon your horse (or when you horse thinks they are):

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This is Not Equestrian: Fashion Faux Pas

I normally try to avoid sounding like a jerk, but there are a few things that annoy me from time to time. One is when I ride badly, another is when I wreck a perfectly manicure trying to take out braids with a seam ripper, but the largest annoyance I have is when people label clothing ‘equestrian’. I’ve mentioned it before, however I’m revisiting the topic, and here’s why:

Apart from the red blazer (reminiscent of an olympic show jumping blazer worn by the USET) we’re not buying it. Image courtesy of Fashion Gone Rogue.

Miranda Kerr recently appeared on the cover of Bazaar, which titled its “equestrian inspired” photo shoot Riding High (possibly the mental state of the person that designed these clothes?). As an equestrian, I expected to see tailoring reminiscent of hunt coats, a monogrammed collar, or at the very least a helmet included. Instead what I was presented with was unusual fringed bras, a token blazer, and dominatrix boots. Ok, granted in the last shot, there was an actual horse, to Bazaar’s credit, but still….if by ‘inspired’ you mean “there’s a horse in one of the photos”…well then bravo. This equestrian would venture to say that this look is more inspired by Lord of the Rings, Underworld, and possibly an upper-crust strip club.

Ah, apologies we spoke too soon: apparently the ‘helmet’ was the bizarre leather cabby-hat that seems to be offering no protection what so ever. Also, there was the typical gimmicky crop posing technique. Image courtesy of CoCo’s Tea Party

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The Humbling Sport of Riding

Horseback riding isn’t for the faint of heart.

In this world there are many sports that take charisma, athleticism, and a certain amount of humility to undertake. Horseback riding is certainly one of them. Whether you are having a gorgeous course or having the worst ride of your career, both should be approached as learning lessons. One minute you could be floating around a hunter course, flawless and fabulously making the entire class jealous; the next you could float face-first into an oxer and break a flower box. Horseback riding doesn’t care much who you are or how fantastic you think you are, because at the end of the day, personal victory generally outweighs the color ribbon you leave the show grounds with.

Today I had that heart-sinking moment of realization that I had cantered up to a distance, that in no known universe existed, and promptly crashed directly into a fence right in front of my trainer, my parents, several of my barn mates, and worst of all the barn owner Tim. It was a moment of public embarrassment, humiliation, and probably the best dose of character-building I’ve gotten in a while. Apparently karma wasn’t sure I’d gotten the message because I did it again in the next course.

What I learned today however, was that humbling oneself is the only true way to achieve anything in a sport where at a moments notice the wrong sound or movement could send your horse cartwheeling into deep space, and you into the dirt. Thankfully, I avoided the dirt today. It does not matter how fabulous your horse is or how magical a connection you have, at the end of the day, its how humble you can be about it that counts. Today I went in expecting perfection and had a moment of pure hubris and the result was a literal smack to the face. The full-kilter hand-gallop non-existent distance will not happen again, and I will remember to take my morning dose of realness before going in the ring.

Sincerely,

Chaz
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Taking On ‘The Week’

As an avid equestrian that reads The Week, I was insulted by an article written recently in the July 6-13 2012 issue on the ridicule of the Romney’s horse Rafalca. Admittedly, the buzz around the horse has been a bit much, but that wasn’t what pissed me off. The tab that caught my eye on the top of the page, depicted Rafalca performing with Jan Eberling with the caption, “Making fun of dancing horses”. Intrigued, I turned to page 16 to read what was the most irritating posts I’ve read slandering equestrianism in a while.

Just in case you missed this especially offensive article, feel free to ask me for a copy, I’m happy to scan it with my phone and send you a copy.

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Bell Boots in Wonderland

Wherein I try to discover the mythical land my horse’s equipment scampers off to

Hipster Pony Disclaimer: every single inch of this post is my opinion and my opinion only. What you’re going to read is going to be filled with rampant sarcasm and quite a heavy dose of realness.

Have you ever walked into the barn and noticed your bell boots are missing? Perhaps your saddle pad has scampered off? Or maybe by some divine intervention, each and every single set of shipping wraps (which by the way is over 5 sets for anyone playing along at home) has magically evaporated? Perhaps your equipment takes notes from the late Houdini? What extraordinary magical place to they travel to when you aren’t looking?

(it is important to note, that the gripes you will see in the rest of this article in no way reflect gripes I have with where my horse is currently stabled. Much love and happy reading to my beloved Duncraven-ites who take top-notch care of my boy!)

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The Commuting Equestrian

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So for some  weeks now, I have been commuting back and forth from New York City to New Jersey to see my horse CrackerJack. Between the long train rides and my constant attempts to stay in good riding shape, it has been a huge challenge. Here are some tricks I have learned:

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UPDATE: Wallis Sets Her Sights on Rockville

You may remember previously that I had mentioned an ‘undisclosed’ location for the proposed Unified Equine slaughterhouse. Well, it has now been confirmed that Sue Wallis intends to end horses lives in Rockville, MO.

A horse like this one, could be chopped up and shipped to Europe sooner than you think. Image courtesy of the LA Times.

It has been alleged that Wallis has chosen this city, whose population is only 150, to reduce the chance of retaliation; the city may be too small to fight back. The building, which was once a beef slaughterhouse was formerly owned by Sharlene Mott. After being purchased by Hormel, then put out of business, it has been noted that this plant could offer up many new jobs to a town. When the original beef plant was closed down, a significant number of employees lost their jobs. Apparently, the citizens of Rockville are ‘excited’ for this business opportunity. In a public statement, Wallis stated that “We are excited to be bringing jobs and opportunity to rural Missouri” adding that they were also “even happier to provide a humane and viable option to the horse industry, decimated by misguided efforts to end humane horse slaughter.”

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All My Daddy’s Horses: Wealth In The Showring

It should be no surprise to anyone in the equestrian sport that being a participant in the show ring comes with a lofty price tag: between the cost of equipment, horses, horse care, show fees, veterinarian bills, shoeing, and show clothes, you are already looking at an annual bill that would make the lease of a ferrari look like chump change.

Pictured: Moorlands Totilas, one of the dressage world's most expensive, and most talented performers. Image courtesy of Telegraph.co.uk.

In a recent article in Forbes, high-profile riders such as Georgina Bloomberg and Jennifer Gates are mentioned, both of whom compete at the Winter Equestrian Festival. An unnamed source mentions that because these girls are pampered and given tutors and funds, that riding is often “the only part of their life that they care about”. As an equestrian I take a lot of offense to that statement, and find it highly unprofessional that a journalistic source of information like Forbes would not name whoever made such an inflammatory remark. Furthermore, I highly doubt than any equestrian, celebrity or otherwise, only cares about riding competitively and nothing else.

So then they don’t care about charity work, the welfare of animals, or anything else except spending daddy’s money on their horses? Really?

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