why do we tuck our pinkies under the reins in english riding?
like why is that a thing that we do?
My trainer once said it was because the pinky is the weakest finger. So if we held the reins in the whole hand including the pinky, that would be the first finger to definitely get broken if something happened (the horse suddenly yanks at the reins or constantly pulls or whatever). Sounded pretty logical to me.
Maybe it’s just one of those “because it’s been like that for centuries”-things though…
For all the girls with the muckers, half chaps and gloves with a hole in a finger.
For the girls who skip a party because they have to get up at 4:30am.
The ones who will feed, muck, and repair a fence for the love of their best friend.
This is for the girls who can drive a tractor before they can drive a car.
For the girls who would rather jump fences than skip rope.
This is for the girls who think bailing twine and duct tape are tools.
For girls who spend more money having manes and tails braided than have their own hair done.
This is for the girls who are excited opening a box with a leather halter in it.
Who shovel snow to get to the barn.
For the girls who filled a stocking for a horse
Who wear a bracelet or a belt with their horse’s name on it, not a boy.
This is for the girls who dreamed of a pony for Christmas.
This is for the dreams we hold and the memories we all share.
We know how to love unconditionally because a horse has taught us.
This is a lifestyle not a hobby
This was originally a message for thecityhorse.
It was too long to put in the ask-box and too long for that new thing “fan mail” that tumblr recently introduced.
anyway. now I get the chance to write even more. here’s what I wanted to say:
The people telling you that you’re chasing the wrong dream are, well, idiots.
First of all I don’t think there are “wrong dreams” to chase (except maybe if one dreams of becoming a mad mass murderer).
Second of all: A dream that involves teaching kids anything (ESPECIALLY those who cannot afford their own pony or whatever) is NEVER wrong (except, again, if one teaches them to become a mad mass murderer or similar).
I started riding when I was 12, my godfather paid ten lessons and then my father took over and paid a lesson a week. I went to the barn almost every day after school, helped groom the horses, sweep in and around the stables, clean tack - and in return I sometimes got to ride for free.
When I was 14 I was able to loan one of the lesson horses (still my dad paying), ride him 3-4 times a week. Every Sunday I since then I muck out the stable. In return I haven’t paid for a lesson in 15 years.
I never wanted my own horse. I was able to ride all the horses of my trainers and I had “my” old horse (said (ex-)lesson horse until November last year. He didn’t belong to me but we belonged together.
(I wrote a blog post about him when he died in march: monsterhorse)
Elitism is one of the things that bugs me most in this equestrian society. We shouldn’t look down on those without their own horses because we all started like this. And most of us worked hard to get where we are now.
I’m really grateful that I got the chance to help out at the barn to be able to ride more instead of paying cash - my parents couldn’t afford it. I was a teenager, I couldn’t afford it. The horses kept me sane during those teenage years. At that time, I saw the owner of the barn more often than I saw my father. I even worked there full-time for a year after I ran away from school. I owe those people so much. If you’ve worked with horse-people, nothing can shake you anymore.
Riding was never a hobby except maybe for the first two years. Then it became something I just did. Like going to school. Or breathing. Riding and working with horses is a part of my life. I organise everything around it. It makes my friends shake their head, when, for the umpteenth time I tell them “no, I can’t go out two nights in a row because I need to go riding at least four days a week”. I think in the last 17 years the longest period that I stayed away from the barn was two weeks, because I fell off a horse and couldn’t walk or ride a bicycle.
Yes, it can be a dangerous and painful pastime. I’ve had toes and fingers broken, ligaments torn and tendons snapped. I’ve had concussions and twisted ankles and some of the vertebrae in my lower back are not quite where they’re supposed to be. I’ve had bruises the size of Switzerland and bloody knees and infected blisters on my fingers. But the happy moments are worth every blasted injury.
Now when I don’t ride for more than two days my back starts to hurt like hell.
"Riding"* is more than just sitting on a horse and letting it transport you.
It trains people to open their eyes (because you need to see everything the horse might see before the horse sees it).
It trains you to coordinate your body in a way that not many other sports require (outside leg back! carry your inside hand! shoulders back! heels down! head up! right hip an inch back! don’t twist your left ankle!)
It makes you flexible in body and mind (because you need to be able to react within a split second to anything the beast underneath or next to you does).
It can train your social skills (there is a reason some companies send their employees to workshops with horses).
* I put “riding” in quotation marks because I don’t mean the act of sitting on a horse when I say “riding”. I mean the whole thing: saying hello to the horse, leading it, grooming it, everything.
And if a kid gets the chance to profit from all of this without the parents having the financial burden that a horse can be: all the better!
(Also, many girls lose interest in riding when they go trough puberty. I’ve seen that so often. First they’re at the barn five days a week, then they start going out more, then they have a boyfriend and after a few months you only ever see them every odd weekend. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s completely normal. But what would happen to their horse if they had their own?)
So. I’m getting to an end here.
You’re doing a great job, thecityhorse! Your horses look happy and healthy, your kids and students look happy (and you look happy too) and that is what’s most important in life. Being happy. Not owning some big shot jumping pony. And if you contribute to your students’ happiness by just letting them groom or even ride one of your horses for an hour: you’re doing it right.
sorry for rambling. that turned out way too long.