Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Sunday musings…6/13/2021

1 He-Hem. What’s necessary on a pair of pants for an under-tall male.

Not to be completed until the sewing machine is necessary to make curtains for a She-Shed.

2 Snaffle. A particular type of bit, or mouthpiece, that connects a horse with a rider.

Really should be a snack food, don’t you think? Like, I dunno, a Snickers-flavored waffle or something.

3 Valet. Each year I either acquire a different nickname/role as the non-riding spouse of an amateur dressage rider. I’ve been jokingly referred to as The Breeder (kinda fun wearing my hat to non-horsey events), The Collector (a terrible role: you have more horses than you have use for), The Trader (you buy and sell horses; I actually find this one fascinating and would like to continue wearing this one), and for at least the first show of the year, The Valet (I brought chilled wine to celebrate the first post-lockdown show).

Everyone needs a role, right?

4 Competitor. Boy, it’s been a really long time since I’ve competed in anything with any kind or real intent. Might have been 2003 or so. My brother and I played in a golf tournament. We were inexplicably insulted by the pro a couple of months prior to the event. This turned what should have been at most a semi-serious hits and giggles fest into a grim, full-on, trample the injured/hurdle the dead effort to not only win but win big.

We both knew how to do that, and we did, indeed, run away from the field.

The point is more about us being super comfortable competing. Being in the arena and not finding it the least bit daunting to be either judged or measured. We’ve never competed in anything where we had either complex equipment (driving race cars, for instance) or animals to depend on (no Iditarod). At the moment I am writing from a spot in the shade across from stables in which millions of dollars of horseflesh stands ready to compete. The equestrian world contains both professional and amateur riders (the competitors), trainers of both who may or may not compete personally, and a category that is completely foreign to me: owner.

Now to be honest, as The Trader I’m not really unfamiliar with the concept of “owner” I guess. Beth does not ride the horses we trade (the pros do), and I, of course, do not ride at all. But we would not be in this world at all if Beth was not riding and competing. Indeed, we entered this world 20+ years ago with Lovely Daughter Megan. When I asked our trainer about this phenomenon, the non-riding or infrequently riding owner, his answer was that competing was so daunting for some riders that it literally makes them ill.

I guess I understand this, at least in the abstract. It’s just so foreign to me as a lifelong competitor in something or another. To be honest, not having a competitive outlet, a physical, athletic competitive outlet, has left a huge hole in my life. It’s not about winning or losing; that golf tournament where I really burned to win was an anomaly in my adult life. But I’d love to have something active where I got those little butterflies before the game, where I tuned in and automatically became laser-focused during the match. Love to have something to sit back and replay over a beer or glass of wine. Maybe even have my own Valet to provide the libations.

For competitors it’s OK to get butterflies in your stomach, as long as you can get them to fly in formation!

The non-riding owners are very nice people, and if they need a little encouragement or a kind-hearted push or shove, I’m there for them, however little understanding I have of their motivations or mindset. For some people those pre-game jitters are more pterodactyl than butterfly. It makes little sense to do something that makes you unhappy, however much being another non-competing part of that something might make them happy.

It’s just that seeing them there, so close to it, whatever it is, and not being able to get to the starting line…well…I think it will always make me a little sad for them. Or more accurately, a little sad for me. If I had that one thing I loved, that thing I loved being around, no matter what it was, I’d have filled that hole that’s been open and waiting to be filled for so very, very long.

I’d have jumped at the chance to once again saddle up myself, enter the ring, and be a competitor.

I’ll see you next week…

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