Alternative Reality

Every now and then I like to escape from reality. A few winters ago, I went to see my riding instructor while she was in Wellington, Florida. “Wellie World” is the winter capital of the dressage elite. Driving around one of the equestrian communities there is a tour of all of the names you read about in equestrian magazines and a few pop culture rags as well. I could not quite figure out why I had a hard time making conversation with people down there. People seemed just a little “off” to talk to – then I figured it out. Botax!! Everyone seemed to have their eyes done. So when they speak, the mouth moves but the eyes show no expression. Big surprise that western New Yorkers don’t subscribe to that trend. I spent a lot of time sticking a water or beer bottle in my mouth to hide the grin. Everyone must have either thought I was incredibly concerned with hydration or a drunk.

This year’s trip was to Dressage at Devon – one of the oldest show’s on the east coast and right in Philadelphia. Sometimes I feel that I should get a few sociology credits for these trips. My friend, who normally drives a dually pick up (Dodge Diesel – so plenty loud) or an older jeep ended up picking me up in a black Mercedes. So in order to be helpful and stand out from the throngs at Philadelphia International Airport, I cheerfully waved at every black or dark-colored Mercedes. Turns out, there are many more Mercedes in Philly than there are in Buffalo. I got a lot of strange looks from passers-by and one started to slow down. Judging by the Mr. T starter sets, I think they thought I was on the clock.

Saturday morning was great. I got to ride a very nice warmblood with an amazing trot and I got to have a jumping lesson which was desperately needed. It’s amazing how much of a mental game  riding is. I had gotten stuck in a cycle of trying so hard to not make the same mistakes that I was only making matters worse. However, I am a very good student and when someone tells me what to do, I usually am able to put my inner monologue on the back burner and do as I am told. The problem is, I am not in a good area for the type of jumping instruction I need. By Sunday, my friend had me pretty well straightened out and it felt great.

Saturday afternoon, I caught up with a life long friend who now lives in the same area, and five of us headed off to Devon. Its was a varied group. Two of us are products of growing up in western New York, one of us did some time in the area, and two were from the Unionville area. Two of us live on rather stringent budgets, one does it by nature, and two I cannot speak for. The shopping at Devon is very different from Rolex. Devon is not the place to go for great deals on equipment for your horse. However, if you are looking for accessories or equestrian haute couture than you have gone to the right place.

I went into the “Browbands with Bling” booth thinking that Whitman would look great with a little bling. I looked at the price tag and decided that Whitman would look fine without a little bling. When I set it down (okay hurled it down like it bit me), the attendant pointed out that for $300 I could get a matching belt for myself, so it was a really good deal. I think I choked out a “maybe later”, before bolting (Remember this story – it leads to a foot in mouth situation later). Then I was in a rider clothing store checking out the clearance rack. The owner/designer was explaining to me that the inspiration for the clothing line was for a lady to be able to go from the golf course to the barn without having to run home to change – “because I so need to be able to do that!”(please read in a vapid but very enthusiastic voice). However, the shirts were marked down to $5 each, so I now have two. The women then noticed the very yellow coat I was wearing and the conversation went along the following lines – her: “Oh my God!? Is that coat a McKenna (?) – I have been searching for one in my size” Me: (deer in headlights look) “Um, no?” Her: “Who is it by?” Me: “I don’t know”. Actually I do know, it’s a $13 coat I bought from Sam’s Club. I’m sure the designer was some underpaid 13-year-old girl in a foreign country. However, I felt bad snorting and yelling “shit, no – this here coat is from Sam’s Club” to the owner of the store. My friend who knew the origin of my coat politely walked out in the middle of the exchange to prevent howling out loud.

You would think I might be done here, but of course not. Later, the same friend and I are in line to get a bottle of wine to take to the grandstand. While in line, I was noting that it was the first time I had flown out of the Erie Airport and that it was also the first time I had actually walked out of the terminal onto the runway to get on the plane. A very nice seeming lady in line behind me seemed to think this was an odd statement and chimed in with a “but we always walk outside to get on our plane”. I smiled and said that “yeah, well I was holding a ticket”. Sorry, they do let the riff raff into this place.

The show was great. Devon has a fairly electric atmosphere. Really, no sarcasm – electric atmosphere at a dressage show. I had my red foam finger, but my bum hurt so I was sitting on it rather than waving it. The freestyles were great and the Canadians really dominated. Evidently the Americans are still nursing their wounds from the Olympics. We had a lot of fun and it now seems okay for the audience to clap during the test when they are impressed. There was a ‘bush poet” and trick rider that was actually really fun and impressive to watch as well.

Sunday morning led to a slight foot in mouth episode. My friend with the barn and I were cracking up about the “bling” episode and the chance of us spending that much money on a browband and belt. One of her clients politely pointed out that she had the browband and belt. (sound of crickets chirping). Darn, I hate when that happens. Well if it makes her happy, karma evened things out and I got selected, yet again, for an “extra” security search at the airport.


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