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Just for chuckles! (I've donned the flame retardant suit!)

Differentiating Dressage Queens (DQs), Natural Horsemanship (NH) devotees, H/J competitors and Endurance Addicts

This is meant as a guide for the uninitiated, or as a chuckle for those initiated beyond their threshold of consumption. (Please, please don't send me hate mail -- some of my best friends are DQs, my hubby rides endurance, I used to do the H/J thang, and the NH world has opened my eyes to things I hadn't even considered -- this is just a series of observations.)

In order to get a "feel" for each discipline, let's take a look at the stars in each:


NH devotee looks like a throwback from a Texas ranch, despite the fact that he grew up in the suburbs of NJ. Rope coiled loosely in hand (don't want to send any messages of tension, after all) in case he needs to herd any of those kids on rollerblades away from his/her F-350 dually in the WalMart parking lot. Cowboy hat is strategically placed, and just soiled enough to be cool. Wranglers are well worn, with that little wrinkle above the instep of the ropers, and lots of dust (well, you know, from the round pen) on the lower legs.

The DQ is freshly coiffed. Not even she remembers her own hair color, but she has taken great pains to ensure that Rolf, the hairdresser, makes the perm and highlights look "natural." Diamond studs are elegant and stately, and not so large that they blind the judge during the entire passage-piaffe tour. $30 dollar denim jumper worn over $300 full seat white breeches and custom Koenigs.

The H/J competitor is in an aqua polo and those breeches whose color could be compared to, um, well, okay, let's say they're khaki. The polo is so that folks will think they're a jumper rider until they put on their shirt and stock tie. Baseball cap is mandatory after a ride, in order to provide free advertising to that trainer's stable for whom they shell over a mere grand or so per month, and to hide "helmet head."

The Endurance addict is wearing lycra tights in some neon color. Has not read the rule that lycra is a privilege, not a right. The shinier, the better, so that they can find her body when her mount dumps her down (another) ravine. Wearing hiking sneakers of some sort, and a smear of trail dirt on the cheek. Sporting one of the zillions of T-shirts she got for paying $75 to complete some other torturous ride. Socks may or may not match (each other).

The Mount

Rusty is the quintessential NH mount. Rescued from a situation where he was never initiated in the NH ways, he'd learned to run down his owners at feeding time, knock children from his back under low hanging branches, and could even spit like a camel if provoked. The embezzlement has never been proven. The hospitalization tally for his handlers was twelve until he met Spherical Sam. After twelve minutes in the round pen, he is teaching algebra to high school freshmen, speaks three language fluently, and can put on his own splint boots (with Spherical Sam's trademark logo embossed clearly).

Fleistergeidelsprundheim ("Fleistergeidel" for short) is a 18 hand warmblood who was bred to make Grand Prix in a European nation where his breeders are still laughing hysterically when they talk about 'zat crazy American.' Despite being runty, his owner fell in love with his lofty gaits, proud carriage and tremendous athleticism. Never mind that this talent was not revealed until he was chased down by a rabid raccoon, and has not been repeated since. Has been injured sixteen times in the last year, preventing his move to PSG at age 6, despite living in a 20' x 20' padded stall and providing family-supporting wages to a groom whose chief job duty is "don't let him get hurt!"

Neverbeenraced is a prime example of American Thoroughbred. The coat is deep bay, no markings, the text book TB head, and no unusual conformational characteristics. Perfect, just perfect. Overcame a near fatal flaw in his H/J career when he learned that the plants in the jumps are NOT real, and therefore did not require him to stop and taste. Has learned to count strides all by himself, and asks in midair which lead his mistress would like today.

Al Kamar Raka Shazaam was often called "you bastard" until he found an owner as hyper as he, an endurance addict. Can spook at a blowing leaf, spin a 360 and not lose his big trot rhythm or give up an inch to the horse behind him. Has learned to eat, drink, pee and drop to his resting pulse rate on command. Has compiled 3,450 AERC miles, with his rider compiling 3,445 -- those five miles being the ones he was chased down the trail after performing his trademark 360 turn, without said aforementioned rider.

Overheard Frequently

From the NH Devotee -- "Well, shucks ma'am, tweren't nuthin'!" "It's simple horsemanship" "With this special twirly flickitat'em rope ($17.95 plus tax), you'll be roundpenning like me in no time." "You silly human, that just ain't natural for a horse."

From the DQ -- "Oh no, he's hurt again?!" "The check is in the mail." To Herr Germanlastname: "Can't you tune up those one tempis for me?" To the groom: "Get me that mounting block -- can't you see my nails are still wet?" To the show manager: "That footing has ruined my chances at Olympic Gold in 2000, I'll have you know." and "What were you thinking, stabling me next to that nobody? That horse could be *diseased*?" To anyone who will listen: "When I had dinner with Hilda / Lendon / Robert . . . "

From the H/J Competitor -- "Did you tell Neverbeenraced how many strides between Fence Four and Fence Five -- I can never remember!" "Is my butt sticking out enough when I post?" "Oh no, I can't jump 2'6", my trainer will KILL me!" "I can't wait to do jumpers with Neverbeenraced -- then we can wear one of those tassled ear covers!"

From the Endurance Addict -- "Anyone have Advil?" "Anyone have food? -- I think last year's Twinkies finally went bad." "For this pain, I spend money?" "Oh I never bring hay or water to the vet checks -- there's always plenty around." "Quick, quick, did you look, was his pee okay?" "Shazaam -- You bastard!  That was just a leaf" [thud]

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