Monday, September 19, 2011

culture clash or the ribbons are the wrong color

the ribbons are the wrong color -first and third in the jumping

whenever you enter into a new activity, you find yourself immersed in a new and sometimes bewildering culture. tho' i grew up showing horses, it's apparently very different to show horses in the US (admittedly 25 years ago) than it is in denmark.

the first thing i did was read the rulebook. i could see that all of the photos of dressage competition showed people with white saddle pads, white breeches, white gloves and white leg wraps on their horses. i found the white breeches in the rules and a paragraph that said you could wear gloves that were the same color as your coat (which had to be black) if you wished. i read that the saddle blanket should be a neutral color and could find nothing at all about the color of the boots/legwraps. but when we got to the show, it was obvious that only white would do. our black saddle pad with a hint of purple stitching and purple legwraps were not going to cut it. luckily, we could borrow a white pad and just forgo the legwraps.  it seemed to be some strange and unpredictable collusion of rules and what's in fashion.

the next thing that seemed strange was that the judge sat in a vehicle that was parked down at the end of the arena. not along the side, where she might have been able to see something, but at the far end. furthermore, the judge would honk the horn of the car when the person should begin their program. because a honking horn isn't at all going to scare a highly-strung warmblood. the weather was iffy and there were patches of showers all day long, but the judge judged on from the front seat of the car, windshield wipers flapping. i was incredulous, but everyone else seemed to consider it completely normal.

then, there were the ribbons. where i grew up, first place is blue, second is red and yellow is third. here, apparently red is first place, blue is second place and green is third. so you can see above that matilde won a first and a third in the jumping, rather than the second and sixth place that it looks like to the conditioning of my culture.

for the dressage competition, everyone is dressed and outfitted the same, so it seems very egalitarian (and thus very danish). apparently, there's more leeway and fashion at play in the jumping, as people had bright colored saddle pads and boots on their horses and one girl even wore pink britches (tho' i did hear some people expressing surprise over that). everyone has a bright, pretty fleece that they cover their horse with before and after they compete and there seems to be some fashion at work in those as well. because despite the uniform involved, people do want to express themselves.

but it's interesting, these clashes of culture. i do tend to like things that push me out of my rut, but the judge sitting inside of a car during the judging was where i drew the line. i just can't get my head around that. i can appreciate the need to stay warm and dry, but what about the need to actually be able to SEE the performance of the horse you're judging? still, i didn't hear any complaints about the scoring, so i suppose it must work (either that or people have just been culturally conditioned to accept it and not question it).

such an experience also engages many conflicting feelings...the need to belong and fit in and the need to resist. i can see that i have much more need to resist than my child has - she wants very much to belong and be like the others. so i guess i'll be buying her some white gloves, a white pad and white legwraps for the next time.

oh, and i can't resist showing you how brilliantly matilde jumped on sunday to earn those ribbons above. one of the older, more experienced girls from the riding school rode her very well. and she looked fetching in red. 

18/9.2011 - airborne


Karen said...

She looked very fetching in red. I am stumped as to how a judge is PERMITTED to sit in a vehicle while judging..or to HONK at all??....

Weird. Just sayin.

Corrine said...

i admire your ability to adapt culturally. in my 20's i moved from the east coast to nebraska for four years and back to pa. even within the same country, major cultural differences. the judge in a vehicle at the end of the field, honking a horn sounds like nonsense to me, but, if this is "normal" there you are probably the only one who thought it odd. as long as Sabin is learning and growing, that's all that counts. how i wish i could return to the days when my children were that age.

will said...

When cultures collide.

After a lifetime in California, within weeks of moving to Wisconsin I was in cultural shock - "What is that stuff on the table"? Hamburger tartare? ... raw hamberger on a serving plate? You mean you eat it? Edad! Who thought of that concoction? Thanks but I'll pass on that pile.

--maria said...

Love the horse picture. I love the way you write. Why.. this comment is full of love. <3