Thursday 8 March 2018

Cognitive Disannoyance: The act of annoying someone with your inaccurate version of reality.

Now wait a minute Curmudgeon... there are plenty of amateurs with amazing horses who are amazing riders... 

Of course there are.

We just call them "riders" and they blend seamlessly into the sea of other disgustingly talented riders we all aspire to be one day.

At what I think was the same show where the woman was kind enough to entertain everyone on COTH for 2 weeks with her Frosty riding skills, Canada's own Jill Irving was kicking the asses of the likes of Diane Creech and Tuny Page in Class 502 - FEI Grand Prix CDI3.  (I didn't spend a lot of time stalking this so I may have my facts on the exact show incorrect, but the ass kicking part is true).

Victoria Winter would be another person who comes to mind in this category.  Not a full time dressage pro - still an amazing rider.  I am sure there are countless examples in the U.S as well.  Jessica Springsteen is an incredibly talented International showjumping competitor.  Does it help that she has the best horses money can buy?  Yes.  Do I think I could get on one of them and get around even a 3'6" course?  Likely no.

One can't help noticing that Winter and Irving have done their best riding on horses that other people have already ridden in the Olympics.  I don't think I am catty to say this does give you just a teensy bit of a leg up.  But - THEY STILL HAD TO RIDE THE HORSES.  VERY WELL.

So I know full well that we cannot use the simple equation here of  money + horse = trainwreck when it comes to dressage and adult amateur riders.  And no, I don't have any particular issue with these people.  Godspeed and good luck.

The person you must endeavour to never, ever become, after you win the lottery and go horse shopping with Charlotte or whoever, and come home with your prancin' dancin' partner ready to head on out to the Olympics... is Milos.  From the Seinfeld episode.

Curmudgeon!  You oldie olderton.  No one watches Seinfeld anymore

Yah I know.  I can't remember the last time someone greeted me with a hearty "Hellooo NEWMAN!"  But bear with me. If you remember the episode in question it totally captures my frustration towards this group of riders.

In summary - Seinfeld goes to a fancy private tennis club.  While there, he runs into Milos - who scoffs at his tennis racket, says he wouldn't be caught dead playing with a piece of crap in his hands such as the racket Jerry possesses.  So Jerry, feeling that this guy must know his shit seeing as he is at a fancy private club, forks over cash for an overpriced racket.

Surprise!  Jerry later finds out that Milos is all talk and is in fact, a horrible tennis player.

Hilarity ensues as Jerry agrees to help Milos save face with his girlfriend by allowing him to win a match, even though he really sucks.  But - the stupid fucker can't just have a normal civil game - he has to showboat and carry on and expects Jerry to suck it up and play along.  Jerry of course eventually snaps and other shit happens, the three storylines of the show come together in some crazy way like they always do in episodes of Seinfeld, yada yada yada.

Jerry and Milos

Anyway, the relevant portion of this rambling recount of a Seinfeld episode is this - money + horse = trainwreck, category 2 women tend to be so fucking irritating for exactly this reason.

You never seem to sit beside one in a director's chair on the sidelines or at a clinic and have a discussion regarding how difficult dressage is.  Or how frustrating it is to see the trainer get on your horse and make something look effortless, then get on the horse yourself and struggle to do the simplest things.  Or that regardless of how much money you spend or how hard you try - dressage is still too difficult for you to master. And although you may be able to do bits and pieces of a I1 test someday, actually pulling it all together in the ring is a dream that you may never realize. Ever. No matter what you do.  Unless you set reality aside and head  on into the ring and give it a really awful, embarrassing try.  Like the woman live streamed from Wellington.

Instead, I find that should you decide to sidle up to the majority of these women, you are instead expected to play by Milos' rules as described above.  As they pontificate on the joys of riding a piaffe, or executing a perfect pirouette - a ha haaa, oh, all in the course of an average everyday ride - you must smile, nod, and agree with the pontificator.  Oh yes, Clarice.  It must be fabulous to experience this.  Mmm Hmm.. Yep... Ha ha ha... Oh, that crazy Steffen Peters.  Blah blah etc.

And as your inner Jerry Seinfeld screams out "MENTION TO HER THAT SHE CAN'T EVEN SIT THE FUCKING TROT LET ALONE PULL OFF A LINE OF TEMPIS"... you know that you are too nice a person to do this.  So instead you continue to smile, nod some more, and make a mental note to never, ever sit beside this woman again. Perhaps you can find out her schedule, and add a layer to this mental note to never ever attend the stable at the same time as her again.  Or pack your trailer and drive the fuck right down the laneway and on to another stable.

Now don't get me wrong.  It is not that I want to hear about how tough things are for these women so I can snark about them losing a battle that they can't buy their way out of.  If I really had no compassion whatsoever, I would unleash the inner Jerry Seinfeld and let them know- that I know - that they are full of smoldering bullshit.

In actuality, I feel really badly for them because it does suck to have a dream, and to try really hard to do something well, and find out you can't actually do it, no matter how the deck is stacked in your favour. I totally get this, and I don't wish this on anyone.

But as with so many other avenues of life - I just wish these people would be honest with themselves and those around them.  Maybe people wouldn't be doing horrible I1 tests livestreamed on Facebook if they realized that it is entirely normal and OK for middle aged women to find dressage really fricking difficult, no matter how hard they try. We could have a rational discussion about the things we are working on, what is challenging, how frustrated we can be - and we could all do it in person, face to face, instead of internet stalking bulletin boards to see if we are normal, like teenagers sprouting our first pubic hairs and reading Judy Blume books.

But instead, these people put on this fake shell to try to convince us that all is well and on track.  Despite what reality is showing the world.

At least if they want to live in the special world of Cognitive Dissonance, where no one notices that the words coming out of their mouths don't match the reality riding the horse - I wish that they will go away and never talk to me. Ever.

But alas, my frustrating tendency to smile, nod, zip my lip - and no matter how much lava pours out my ears as my brain melts down with frustration, my compulsion to avoid making people look like assholes in public makes me an irresitable target.  If only I were more like Jerry Seinfeld.

I am an FEI rider... I am an FEI rider

So, let's review - I can't sit on the chairs beside the rich ladies who don't ride.  I can't sit on the chairs beside the rich ladies who ride horribly.

How about that one over there - the one beside the parent of the budding equestrian wunderkid, getting ready to qualify for NAYRC*?  How bad can that chair possibly be?

*North America Young Riders Championship