As the Hotwalker Turns: Things we learn the hard way
Katy Groesbeck offers some sound advice that may sound funny on paper but could save you an ibuprofen bottle’s worth of headaches in real life.
Things We Learn the Hard Way
Over the years, we have all gained invaluable knowledge that unfortunately didn’t come cheap. I will share some of the tidbits I have learned, whether through personal experience or via people I know, that I think are all of critical importance. While some of these are mere superstitious musings, I think we can all agree it’s better to be safe than really really really sorry. And don’t say I didn’t warn you!
**Disclaimer: Only read this if you don’t mind hearing unsolicited advice from someone who is probably younger and less experienced than yourself ── I’m just statistically speaking based on HN’s reader demographics (which I just made up). If that doesn’t bother you, you still might take offense at me delving into rather personal affairs near the end. Just FYI. **
1. NEVER talk about how sound your horse is, how good he’s going, or how smooth your truck is running. Ever. That is seriously begging for trouble. I think last season alone I met every single AAA Roadside Service mechanic along the I-5 corridor of California, and by the end of the season we had even gone to enough events to replace every tire on the truck and trailer, one blow-out at a time. My mom ── you may recognize her hospitality and love of feeding people from previous posts ── now very kindly keeps her ice-chest stocked with cold beverages to keep our roadside assistants hydrated.
2. Whoever decided that “body protector” was an appropriate term for eventing safety vests clearly has never fallen off in one. I can name at least one poignant area of the body NOT covered: my butt. And for all I know, no one calls them “body protectors” at all and this is just what I grew up believing because that’s what my parents called them. In that case, I’ve been duped.
3. Do NOT admit to what you ACTUALLY paid for your horse, your tack, your top hat, your boots, or your trailer. For one thing, most people will probably just tack on “poor fool” to the end of your given name when referring to you in conversation. And if you tell your non-horsey family and friends, they will probably try to have you committed. That’s never pleasant. And lastly, which story sounds better?: “Oh ya, that’s the girl who won the Grand Prix on her $150,000 European import” or “Oh ya, didn’t she just pick that horse up at the sale yard last year? He sure has made a turn-around.” (Cue Academy Awards voice: And the bragging rights go to…). Although if you’re winning grand prix events, brag all you want. Permission granted.
4. I think it’s fairly common knowledge that it’s never a good idea to leave home without your rain gear or anything else you really don’t want to have to use on a trip. If you don’t pack it, you’ll need it. Chances are even if you DO pack it, you’ll need it, but I guess there’s no use tempting the fates any more than need-be. Your packing list should at all times include mud boots and ponchos, extra horseshoes, VetWrap, your second CO2 canister (eventing reference, sorry), lug wrench and tire jack, a lunge line, and tampons. Thank me later.
5. Ian Stark once said to a gentleman I was riding in a clinic with, “Look at your [expletive deleted] bridle! For every loose keeper you have, you fall off.” I, personally, have never had the guts to prove Ian wrong. I’m taking his word for it.
6. When in doubt, clip/cut/pull/trim LESS hair than you think is necessary. This includes, in particular, tails and bridle paths. I was once let-loose on my horse as a young’n with a pair of clippers before a show; after a heavy sigh from my mom, about 6 months, and a LOT of QuikBraid, I could finally contort the bottom two inches of the bridle path into something resembling a braid. Oops.
7. Jump on the chance to sleep with date
marry make friends with a vet or farrier. Preferably a good one, if you’re in the position to be choosy. They are totally handy people to have around. My dad is my farrier most of the time. My mom and I got him a drill press for Father’s Day one year just so he could drill and tap our horse’s shoes. It was a sound investment.
P.S.: Speaking of drilled and tapped, those tampons I told you to pack up in Point #4 come in really handy when you run out of all the other options you have for filling stud holes. Just cut off a small section, spray with WD-40, and you’re good to go! I bet you never knew that.
8. Don’t talk in barn aisle-ways about anything you’re not comfortable with every person in every barn in the tri-state area knowing. For instance, you probably shouldn’t talk about the sordid details of your relationship with the last farrier you dated. OR, if you ARE comfortable with people knowing, post it on Facebook instead. You will get much broader coverage in less time.
9. When clipping horses (keeping in mind Point #6), NEVER wear a fresh coat of lip balm. Or, for that matter, a bra. (Guys: make friends with girls who clip horses.) You probably think I’m joking right now, but I’m dead serious. Having short prickly hairs embedded in the fabric of your bra is a nuisance you can’t get rid of with waxing, unlike some other pesky hairs you might have.
**Disclaimer: Random tangent. My dad was once unfortunate enough to overhear a group of dressage riders talking about their preferences in… uh, personal grooming styles… when riding. See Point #8: Don’t talk about $h!t you don’t want everyone knowing.**
10. And lastly: check your girth. Enough said.
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