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humor

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dressage, horses, humor

Men like Machines, Women love Horses

“What is it about women and horses?,” my non-horse friends ask. “I just don’t get it.”
I have a theory, but it’s untested, so perhaps it’s only a conjecture. Regardless, I can sum it up by saying that men like machines. They love the reliability of having an object respond to them consistently (unlike their wives) and without any fuss. Turn the key and the motorcycle, car, boat, or plane starts. Step on the gas and it goes. Your vehicle reliably turns in the direction you prefer. Press the brake and it stops.

If you need reliability, get a motorcycle. If you want a relationship, get a horse.

If you need reliability, get a motorcycle. If you want a relationship, get a horse.


Machines are clean, neat, and simple compared to horses and other living beings.
Unlike machines, horses have opinions, personalities, good days, and bad days. Even the best trained horse will have inconsistencies. Some days the brakes work really well, other days you need a firmer hand and perhaps a bigger bit. On a good day your horse will promptly respond to a gentle leg aid. If he’s not so keen, you literally need to give him the boot.
Every once in a while, you’ll wonder where your horse’s brain went: out the window with the wind, back in the barn aisle where lunch is being served, or perhaps visiting that cute mare who just arrived last week. Sometimes, just getting your horse’s attention is the biggest challenge you’ll face.
A machine is a tool. A horse is a relationship.
Your motorcycle may do what you tell it, but will it come to you in the pasture or nicker at the sight of you? Will you ever have a sense that your motorcycle loves its work?
The woman/horse love affair suggests that women enjoy the challenge of a relationship — an appreciation of the simple joys of compromise and understanding. When your 1,000 pound horse responds to a half-halt or a shift in your riding position, there’s nothing like it. This relationship of trust and respect between two species is nothing short of magical.
May the coming year bring this magic into your life, with a better sense of communication and caring between you and your horse. If your man is out in the garage with his motorcycle (car, boat, or plane), bring him a sandwich, so he doesn’t feel neglected.

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dressage, dressage competition, humor, transitions

A Safe Space to Be a Mere Mortal

It occurred to me that if I’d posted only those photos of my horse and I doing well at our most recent show, the response would have been enthusiastic but much less entertaining.
When I posted the photo of Micah taking a poo at M (for Manure) in my Walk to Poo Transition post, the response was terrific. My friends laughed with me as I sat through what felt like the longest nature break in history.
Following is a replay of that glorious moment, followed by my attempts to regain composure and continue the test. As you can tell, I couldn’t quite believe what had happened. It was definitely a good lesson in letting go and carrying on.

M is for manure. Photo by Andrew Martin

M is for manure. Photo by Andrew Martin


The numerous (and hilarious) comments on my personal Facebook (Lauren Davis Baker) and business page (Dressage for Mere Mortals), and soaring views on my blog (www.dressage mortals. org) told me I’d struck a nerve.
Leaving a steaming pile of manure behind, I try to regroup into a free walk. Photo by Andrew Martin

Leaving a steaming pile of manure behind, I try to regroup into a free walk. Photo by Andrew Martin


Clearly, people can relate to those moments when you put yourself on the line, only to be humbled by things beyond your control. When readers shared their own stories of moments of humility, we strengthened our community. For me, community is what this blog (and riding, itself) is about.
An eternity later, we make it across the diagonal and carry on as if nothing untoward had happened. Off camera, my trainer is (rightfully) laughing her head off. Photo by Andrew Martin

An eternity later, we make it across the diagonal and carry on as if nothing untoward had happened. Off camera, my trainer is (rightfully) laughing her head off. Photo by Andrew Martin


I’d love to post photos of my horse and I looking grand (and at times we really do!) but we see so many impressive photos of upper level riders with natural skill and ability (plus the time to ride), riding horses beyond our price range: horses with more talent and training than most of us will see in this lifetime. Sometimes that’s inspiring – but at times we need reminders that the struggle of the average rider is its own story, worthy of telling.
And so I share my weaknesses, knowing that it takes lots of small moments — and not giving up — to make progress. As riders, of course we have faults! But we live in a culture where admitting faults is sometimes seen as a weakness.
Personally, I’d like to create a safe space where it’s ok to say, “I love dressage but it’s really, really hard for me.”
I invite you to join me in that space. Or at least visit it on occasion, when you need a laugh or encouragement.
A better moment, during the same test.

A better moment, during the same test.

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Bob Goddard, equestrian, flying changes magazine, Horse Crazy!, humor, riding, Trail Rider Magazine

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.

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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.

Continue reading…

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bucking, canter, dressage, equestrian, humor, raku, riding

Thanks, Chief

A raku pot sits on my dining room table, a reminder of the little quarter horse I owned for a year. My mother made the pot and had it raku-fired with some hair from Chief’s mane and tail. It’s lovely.

Unfortunately, by the time I got the pot at Christmas, I’d given up on Chief (more on that soon) and sold him. Fortunately, selling Chief was one of the best things I could have done – despite the fact that I dearly loved him.

What does a raku pot have to do with Chief? The dark lines in the pot are made by tossing horse hair into the kiln, when firing.

What does a raku pot have to do with Chief? The dark lines in the pot are made by tossing horse hair into the kiln, when firing.

Chief had been trained Western but I thought he’d make a good dressage horse. He had nice enough movement and was willing in the initial (key word) stages of our work. He liked change, going new places, and mixing it up in the work. He was a confident, excellent trail horse except …. Continue reading…

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dressage, equestrian, horses, humor

The Ugly Duckling

Micah’s not vain about his looks. Probably because he’s a manly sort of horse, who revels in rolling in the dust and strolling about the pasture as if he owns it.

He does own it. Micah manages to assert himself as herd boss with merely a glare and ears pinned in warning. He rarely lifts a hoof or bares his teeth to back up his superiority. He clearly thinks that looks are for sissies.

I’m the one who frets over Micah’s disheveled appearance. He’s a truly handsome horse hidden under a a seriously shaggy winter coat.

IMG_0577

Continue reading…

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