Thursday, February 11, 2010

♪ ♪ Very Superstitious...♪ ♪...Writing's On The Wallll♪ ♪

I love Stevie Wonder. My favorite quote is by him:

"Ya gots to work with what ya gots to work with."

Some people give me a hard time about it, but when you consider the source it is very inspiring.

Anyhoo...I don't really want to talk about music or inspiration today. I want to talk about superstitions. Specifically, horsey superstitions. I tried to engage my Facebook peeps to share theirs, but got very little response. Which really proves one thing - not only are all those peeps weird, they are liars too! (OK OK...that was harsh. I only posted the request once and I suppose it is possible that not everyone immediately looks for my status updates as soon as they sign on. What an ego blow.)

We all have them. Those weird little beliefs, old-wives'-tales, etc., not to mention the habits and traditions we all have to ensure good luck. Or at least ward off bad luck. Face it, if you have a barn you have at least one horse shoe hung up somewhere - open end up as pictured above so the "luck won't run out." You do. I know you do. Liar.

Natalie over at the Retired Racehorse blog (a must read for anyone in the process of or thinking about re schooling an OTTB, and a darn interesting read for everyone else) did share one that pretty much every horse person I have met believes in strongly: one does not, under any circumstance, change a horse's name. Sure, nicknames or "barn names" may change, but these are really no more than terms of endearment. To actually change a horse's name...well, I don't have any proof of the repercussions of that because I have never heard of it being done.

Funny side story: Mom had a boarder once whose horse was named Double Precision, a wonderful, dark bay warmblood. He was called D.P. in the barn. One of the workers there had a rather thick accent, and somehow the very elegant D.P. became "Dippy". He did not seem to mind, but we had to watch ourselves around his very particular owner.

Once again, I digress. I had a ton of these little habits when I was riding competitively and, because I have chosen this forum to share my weirdness with the world, I will continue to do so now.

  1. Nylons would not get changed if luck was good. My usual competitive attire (for the lower half anyway) consisted of socks, breeches, nylons, boots. If I was winning, the nylons did not get changed or washed, no matter how ratty and ineffectual they became. Lucky for me my luck seldom held too long.

  2. Headstand to turn luck around. If I was having a hard time on a particular horse, I would do a headstand in his/her stall (not while it was occupied of course) in order to turn the tables. Pretty sure that one worked. Or else the resulting head rush just rendered me to loopy to worry about our problems. Whatever.

  3. Horse chestnuts in pocket. I think I got this one from The Black Stallion (didn't Henry carry horse chestnuts in his pocket for luck?). Wherever I got it from, once I heard of it I never went into the ring without them.

  4. The "Lucky Braid". When I rode hunters, I always wanted a Lucky Braid on them. I.e. one braid in a slightly different color than the rest of the mane. Since I did a lot of braiding myself, this was pretty easy. Or, I would just undo one and redo it.

  5. Do NOT wish anyone "good luck". Theatre people have this one too, which is where the term "break a leg" comes from. A generic "Luck" or "Have a Good Time" will do just fine. To wish someone "Good Luck" is a jinx. If anyone has the audacity to wish you good luck: jump off the horse, cross yourself, and spin around 3 times. That should take care of it.

I could go on an on, but I will spare you for now. What got me thinking on this track is Legs and his history of getting sick/hurt when I am 1,000 miles away. Chef and I are back from our trip out west now. I did not post much while we are gone for one very important reason: Legs KNOWS when I am not around, and V and I truly believe that he will deliberately hurt himself because he misses me. Three years ago, while Chef and I were on the same trip, he got kicked in the stifle. Two years ago, he colicked (mild, thank God!). And last year he managed to get a puncture wound in the knee of all places - missed his joint sac by millimeters. V and I walked that pasture for hours and never did figure out how he did it.

Needless to say, when I am planning a trip - even for just a day or two - V and I are very careful not to let Legs know. I do not talk about it. I should not even write about it. I really really thought hard about posting that one while we were gone. But it was the last day of our trip, so I thought we would be OK.

It happened on Monday, the day we were travelling home. The horses had been cooped up a lot due to the weather - just going out in the little paddock. So I guess the freedom was too much for them to handle and they had a "Great Tear Around" the pasture. Ordinarily, I like it when Legs does not act his age (21); it means he feels really really good. But, he can and does get carried away.

We got in really late Monday night, but I ran down to the barn early on Tuesday and was greeted to - swollen right hind!! He was putting full weight on it, no heat, no visible injury, but still...yuk. And worry.

Wrapped it up, a little bute. He's much better now. Wait...I did not say that...(crossing myself and spinning....)



  1. I seem to have taken a different tactic. Years ago, I was in the barn talking to friends and the topic of horse riding accidents came up. I proceeded to say I'd been riding for years and so far never broken anything, "Knock on wood." I proceeded to knock on the very solid oak partition next to my horse.

    Less than a week later, I fell off and broke my wrist. Now, I tend to go to the opposite extreme and avoid superstitious practices.

    And I do not have a horsehoe hung up in my barn...honest! I wonder.....

  2. Facinating Jean! I wonder too...could anti-superstitious behavior be considered superstitious? That is, is your not knocking on wood its own superstition?? Hmmmmm...

  3. YES IT COULD! It's like being bigoted against bigots, as my mother once accused me of being.

    Here's my showring tactic: always say to yourself, as you go in, "This is going to be a crap ride and you are going to embarrass yourself. There will be no ribbons. So just gallop around and try not to fall off."

    The first time I ever did that I scored a clear round that moved me from seventh after dressage to second. Ergo, it has become a necessity!

    Superstition? If you choose to do or not to do something because you think it will affect the Fates or Destiny or the Universe, then that's what you've got, a superstition.

  4. I really don't have any superstitions at all when it comes to the horses. There are certain things I do because I've always done it, but nothing like carrying horse chestnuts or having a lucky braid. The night before a fox hunt or event, the horse I am riding gets a pint of Guinness in the evening meal. It's something I learned when I managed a jumper/eventer barn. One of the grooms was an Irish woman and that's just what she did, so I picked that one up and took it with me. The horses always seem more alert, eager and even stronger the next morning! And, they really, really seem to like it. :D Oftentimes I'll have a pint right along with 'em.

  5. You're right, being "anti-superstition" is a superstition. I am in an endless circle here! Will I meet myself after making the doughnuts in the morning too? (Old advertising reference I hope someone gets....)

  6. Hehehe..."Time to make the donughts!"