Dancing with horses, dancing with guys

by kpmautner

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Just got off the phone chatting with a friend about the preparation needed for a show, and started comparing the differences between getting ready for a horse show and for a dance competition. I learned an awful lot about turn-out and show prep from Pony Club and work in hunter/jumper barns. Everything was polished and sleek and shiny. I would get the horse into the trailer, set him up at the showgrounds, feed him and plump his pillows, get some sleep, then get to the barn hours before we were due in the show ring to groom (bathe, weather permitting), braid and polish, then make sure my tack was clean and his stall was spotless before going back to get myself all kitted out.

What a lovely change it is dancing with a guy instead. First, don’t have to go outside in rain or freezing cold unless I want to. Then, I don’t have to bathe and groom my partner, or even trailer him to the showgrounds! He is quite capable of washing and dressing himself. He doesn’t need to be braided, and he can even shave his own whiskers. I don’t have to get him tacked up, since he can do that himself too! All I have to do is put on my make-up, (no “all” about that – stage makeup takes a while!), do my own hair (don’t have to battle to get it under a helmet) and put on my lovely ballgown (such a change from the hunters, where if it wasn’t charcoal pinstripe it wasn’t going to happen – and heaven help you if you had anything that sparkled except your bit and your stirrup irons!)

On the other hand, I’m still working with a rational (most of the time) being with a mind of his own. Something I have learned from ballroom dancing is that, as a lady, I have no say in where we are going, what we are going to do, or how we are going to get there. My job is to respond promptly to his leading, develop self-carriage, and take long and smooth steps at his command. I’m beginning to understand what a well-trained dressage horse feels like – from the horse’s point of view!