Ah Rolex – feelings of inspiration and inadequacy!

We had our annual Rolex party today. It has become a tradition on the years that we cannot attend Rolex in person (which is more often than we go) that the barn family sits around my house and we live-stream the cross country (thank you USEF Network and Land Rover this year – sorry, there is zero chance I will be able to buy a Land Rover but I really appreciate your sponsorship of the event). Its like a Super Bowl party except its brunch and we are sober. This year was a small turnout, but a very enjoyable morning regardless. We watched the first rider through Mickey Jung (whose name has had every pronunciation of Michael that I have ever heard of).

I love Rolex. I love it on television via the livestream and I really love it in person. Standing next to some of the jumps, I have told friends and clients that “you could not throw me over this stuff, let alone get me to ride to it”. Secretly, I would love to have the chance. Frankly, however, at this point in my life I would be thrilled to get around Novice again. Sitting next to my friend, a contemporary of roughly my own age, I said that I love riders like Bunny Sexton and Mary King (who won Rolex at 61 a few years ago) because they give me hope – another two decades and maybe I can get my act together and go prelim or something. She commented that her 15 year old laments that her career is over because she hasn’t done “real” eventing yet. I asked the mother to please forgive me if I kicked her daughter in the shins if she said that to me. I will try and restrain myself, but no promises at this point.

Rolex inspires me each year for the coming season. Considering where I am starting this year out (Ries as a pensioner and Whitman on stall rest, and I haven’t even introduced Gust yet), I am pretty sure getting around Starter might be hopeful and Beginner Novice would be a real achievement. Honestly, two decades ago, I really thought I would be much further along at this point in my life in both eventing and dressage. So at the same time, Rolex is a bit depressing. I have no illusions of riding at the advanced level, but would really like to get back to it as a regular competitor. It has been frustrating to watch eventing become a victim of climate change and the wealth gap up here in the North East. I won’t ever be one of those people who gets to head south for the winter (unless I win the lottery and then I will totally be one of those people). Even if I had the money, and the horses (sound horses), the actual talent has to be there as well (I may be the president of the “can’t see a proper distance” club).

So in the meantime, I will go start trying to redo this years show calendar that originally was looking like a summer of 4th level and PSG dressage (I was so damn close to a tail coat) and instead shoot for a driving schooling show and maybe a mini-event. Not quite Rolex but it will have to do.

Easy change gullet system – my giddy aunt!

I went to the tack shop today and finally replaced my jumping saddle. I had owned a Bates Elevation for the better part of two decades. It wore and felt like iron. I really wanted an adjustable tree saddle and something that my mother and I could share. I decided to go with the current incarnation of the Bates Elevation. I did ask the salesperson (who was very nice) about the “easy” change gullet system. When we had the Wintecs/Bates before, we always joked that it wasn’t “seven easy steps” but fourteen since every other step is “take a break to pant and curse like a sailor”. I commented on this to the saleswomen and she assured me that this was the “next generation” of Easy Change Gullets and it was much easier. Evidently, I am gullible (gullet-ible).

I happily charged home with my new acquisition. One dressage saddle was in my horse trailer in the fire and I bought a treeless Ansur for Ries, but have not sat in a jumping saddle since September ’16. Now that my mom has a new horse (more on that later), I finally had something to jump and was feeling pretty motivated. So, we got out our handy-dandy gullet kit and measured Gust (said new horse). He needs a wide gullet. The saddle was set at medium so we tried that for the first ride. Later, I carried my new possession into the house and announced my intent to my husband to change the gullet.

My husband – having clear memories of helping with this over the last two decades – was skeptical to say the least. Testing our marriage is his interpretation of this little venture. I assured him that this was the “new generation” and that I would be able to do this without help (again, gullible). I started off on the deck. Actually, I started in the living room but between the sand already on the stirrups and a Labrador that was obviously attracted to the smell of new leather, I decided that the deck was a better place.

I couldn’t remember if the Philips Head screwdriver was the flat-headed or “star shaped/plus sign” one and made the mistake of asking my dear husband. This led to some long looks and the assumption that he would have to be involved. I again assured him that I would be able to do this. I got the saddle dismantled with out any real excitement. It was the re-assembly that would prove problematic. Evidently going from medium to wide is not so easy.

I got a sheet and started the wrestling match in the living room. I have distinct memories of doing this a few (cough) decades ago. I got one side of the wide gullet in place but could not get the second point lined up. I tried the classic wrestling move that had always worked before but to no avail. I tried enlisting the help of my elfin nine year old but he fell about ten to twenty pounds short of a helpful weight. I sent him to go ask his father to come help me. Our son went charging off to find his father bellowing “Mom needs help” in a slightly panicked tone. I was calling out “stand down”. We do have occasions around here that do require panic and I wasn’t interested in providing Mr. Beer Budget Dressage with an “at home” stress test.

Mr. BBD came in to help with a healthy dose of “I told you so”. Considering this is a fellow that spends his life dealing with tools and all sorts of uncooperative whatever, I was pretty surprised how much effort it took on his part. We finally got the gullet plate switched and in place, but even if it doesn’t fit – Gust is just going to have to suck it up.

Easy Change Gullet – my derriere.