Labor of Love – It’s how you explain to non-horsey friends why you can’t lift your arms or straighten your back, and occurs right after you’ve stacked 10 tons of hay in your mow on a humid summer day with the temperature pushing 105 degrees. In use, it goes like this, “It’s a labor of love. If I didn’t love these horses so much, I would never labor like this!”
Sweat Equity – This is a common condition experienced by dressage riders who are 30 minutes into a lesson and suddenly realize they are working much harder than their horse. At that moment, their fondest desire is to create sweat equity - the horse needs to work more, the rider needs a break and the sweat being produced needs to leak out of equine pores for a change.
Grooming – This verb is generally accepted to denote any activity utilizing brushes, combs and rub rags whose final objective is to produce a clean and shiny mount. In the real world, grooming involves taking the dirt off the horse and putting it all on the rider, but no one ever mentions that part. From now on, Grooming = Remove dirt from horse, apply to Rider.
TOC - This abbreviation stands for Test of Choice if you’re reading a dressage show class list, but I often think of it as a handy description for many ponies I know, as in Takes Off Cantering, or Tense On Centerline or even Trips Over Caveletti.
No Brainer – Often used in the real world to define a simple task that doesn’t require any mental effort. In the dressage world, it is used to describe the panicked horse that refuses to approach the judge sitting quietly at C. As in, “That no brainer of a warmblood doesn’t have the good sense God gave a flea.”
Space Cadet aka Airhead– An apt description for any dressage horse whose most outstanding daily achievement amounts to digesting hay and exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide. These horses fill their days musing how to resist tracking up or bending into the corners, while remaining zoned out and totally detached from the wants and desires of their frustrated riders. Lack of focus and limited attention span are a must; look of bemusement under saddle a bonus.
Weapon of Choice - “Never go into battle without your weapon”, preached an early instructor of mine. By that she meant, where are your spurs and why didn’t you use your stick after he refused at the ascending oxer? A fully prepared rider going out to train carries a dressage whip, or two, and is prepared to use her artificial aid of choice appropriately when all respect for the rider’s leg has evaporated like so much escaping steam. Better to carry it and not need it than to need it and not be carrying it, I always say.
Work Stoppage – The cessation of work as a means of protest against the poor working conditions provided by management. Or in the dressage world, your horses committed refusal to get and stay in front of your leg, no matter how much you flail at him with your heels. So what’s the solution to this common training issue? See Weapon of Choice above.
Work in Progress – The possibilities are endless and the opportunities for improvement abound when we describe our performance in the dressage arena as a work in progress. Not to worry that your partner is 11 or 15 or even 23 years of age, they are all works in progress and will be until they retire to become the pasture ornaments of our dreams.
Well, the President’s letter that runs monthly here in our Close Contact Newsletter is also a work in progress - with unlimited opportunities for improvement. I hope you enjoyed this month’s installment and that it brought you a grin, maybe even a smile.
Susan Moody, IEO President