Guest Blog by Bob Goddard, ‘Planning for Perfection’
Today’s posting is from one of my favorite humor writers: Bob Goddard. Bob’s been writing horse humor since 1991. His blog will celebrate its 4th birthday this June.
I met Bob when I was owner/editor of Flying Changes magazine and thoroughly enjoyed publishing his work — so it’s really fun to be collaborating once again! He currently publishes a humor column for Trail Rider Magazine and is the author of ‘Horse Crazy!’
After spending many years as a Horse Show Dad, Bob decided to take up riding himself. His blog www.horsecrazy.net/bobsblog/ documents Bob’s perspective from the saddle.
On Lesson #114 we attempted to recreate Lesson #113: a perfectly pleasant winter’s day ride. However…
The temps were actually single digit – this time without the benefit of literary license. These days, we’re happy enough if we don’t see the minus sign in front of our numbers. As Gerry (on Habakuk) and I (on Windy) discovered as we followed Karin (on Charley) lemming-like through the Kiddie Trail, the footing was less than ideal. Discretion being the better part of valor, we headed inside. The Chicken Part of my brain – science calls it the cerebrum – insisted.
Within the confines of the Great Indoors, Windy and I performed some dressage moves. These included “Snappy Salute at X” and “Precisely Perfect 20 Meter Circle.”
Anyone who knows anything about dressage knows that after you enter at “A,” you proceed to “X” and make a Snappy Salute. Anyone who knows anything about the English alphabet knows that “X” should be “B.”
I’m wondering if the letter-sequencing discrepancy has something to do with the roots of dressage itself. While the Germans and miscellaneous Europeans developed dressage into the sport/art form we know today, it was the Greeks that first came up with idea. Way, way, way back. Its origins are in fact attributed to the writings of a gentleman named Xenophon who was actually an army guy. Xenophon and the Greeks had their own take on the alphabet with letters that were simultaneously very pretty and very confusing to look at. Kind of like the script you might see on the back of the One Ring to Rule Them All. The one that Karin wants.
After Snappy Salute, I performed a Precisely Perfect 20 Meter Circle and announced that I had done so.
Karin expressed partial disagreement: “That wasn’t 20 meters.”
“Really, Karin? It’s the 20 meter part of that you object to?”
“Bob… a meter is three feet…”
Well so much for precision.
“… and the arena is 72 feet across. That leaves you six feet on each side…”
Her calculations were exquisite. In all honestly, my Precisely Perfect 20 Meter Circle had been probably closer to an 8-meter version of the Greek small case letter “phi.”
Karin then demonstrated to Gerry (who didn’t ask) and me how to make a “change through a circle” and a “change out of a circle.” They are two different things that can put you in different directions, so it’s something you have to know if you want to do dressage without an awkward early exit.
That’s the biggest thing I learned about dressage circles: there’s context to them. They don’t just come out of nowhere and end up nowhere. Striving for perfection means you have to plan ahead.