By lex, on January 20th, 2004
The Kat is into equestrian sports. She’s nine years old…
Equestrian sports are in healthy competition with boating for “World’s Most Expensive Hobby.” If a boat is, in fact, a hole in the water you pour money into, as pointed out yesterday, horseback riding (hunter/jumper!) is a mouth you stuff greenbacks in, to get horse fewmets in return.
Actually, there are several mouths to feed: the horse, of course: the trainer; the stabler; the vet; and the farrier (don’t ask me what a farrier is, I don’t know). All of these wonderful folks will tell you that horseback riding for a young girl is cheaper than drug rehab, and I suppose that’s true.
But it’s yet to be proven to my satisfaction that this is an either/or proposition. If your nine year old does not ride horses, must it necessarily follow that she will have a cameo in the next “Traffic” episode?
But my satisfaction is beside the point, obviously. The Kat is version 3.0 of “she who must be obeyed,” and so we are all, all of us, equestrians now.
I have come to the conclusion, having ferried the Kat to and from no small number of riding sessions, that equestrianism is the principal domain of the female of the species. Sure, if you go to a horse show, you may see some full grown men riding quite creditably. But apparently, they get their expertise like Neo got his karate skills in “The Matrix.” They are placed upon some barbaric barber’s chair, strapped down wrist and ankle, and then a probe is placed into their skull, transferring at T2 speeds the entire skill set required to compete at an advanced level. This must be true, because every time I go down to the stable, it is myself and the farrier (doing God alone knows what) who represent the male of the race.
Of women, all shapes, sizes and ages, there is no apparent upper limit.
There is something going on here among the girls that boys (and men) cannot quite understand, and like many things in the world of women, it sometimes makes us feel a little stoopid.
I wonder what it costs, that barber’s chair?
The Kat won several ribbons of various colors during a competition last Summer, and I was very proud of her, if not entirely sure what she had done to earn them. The entire process is a mystery: lovely young ladies with faces set in granite ride horses about a “ring,” instructions are given over the “loudspeaker,” and obeisance is made to a series of hard eyed “judges,” who pull thoughtfully on their chins and scribble on a “clipboard,” each time your daughter comes around. Insofar as I am aware, they only judge my daughter…
Shortly thereafter, a series of ribbons are awarded. Repeat. For several hours.
It turns out that during these competitions, there are other mouths that must be fed: apart from the usual retinue (Sean Combs would be proud) there is the groomer (he grooms the horse, I believe – I do not think the farrier can do his job), the driver, and of course the various merchants who sell paraphernalia for riding (boots, garters, hunting jackets, hair nets) that are utterly unsuitable for any other purpose whatsoever.
And all of this mystifies me utterly. I mean, wouldn’t a motorcycle be more efficient, in the long run?
But please don’t take this as a rant, or even a bleat. Riding makes her happy, so it makes me happy.
It’s just hard to realize that, at age 9, your youngest has already somehow been initiated into that wonderful, rich, magical world of womanhood of which we men can only see the rough outlines. We see the outer margins only, fully aware that the totality escapes us.
And I never saw it coming. She’s only nine.