Hands up Who Swears Out Loud Whilst Competing?


I laugh. I swear. And sometimes I shriek a little. I’m not quiet about it either. I don’t mean to. It just happens.

It is not helped by the fact my horse is enormous and feels like he is doing everything in slow-mo; allowing me to yell at least 3 expletives per obstacle. Then I cackle insanely upon landing.

I remember when I competed at my first Amateur show. A well-planned jump from doing Club 2, it was not. I went straight from my usual 85cms to Am 2 at the heady height of 1m05 because the first show after passing my Galop 7 did not have an Amateur 3 class.

I live in France, btw.

I lost the sensible bridge to stroll calmly across into the new and classier version of show jumping. Instead, I introduced myself to this unknown world by loudly shouting ‘fu(k’.

A lot.

And by jumping the warm-up fences in the wrong direction.

How was I to know?

The only jump that was up was an upright with no ground pole and no one else was jumping. Honestly. From their reaction, you would have thought I had walked into a restaurant and pooped on a table. It is truly amazing how much disdain a Frenchman can get into the word Madame.

In retrospect, I really ought to have taken my coach with me.

Or at least someone responsible to help with the warm-up fences.

Nipping over a jump quickly before its height is raised is fine when riding Toto, my Welsh Pony at Club level as he turns on a 6-pence and is over it before the other competitor’s coach has time to get annoyed. Lotus is a warship. A warship with a mar-hoosive turning circle. We don’t ‘nip’ anywhere.

Although we are quite good at ‘looming’, ‘bah-doomphing’, and knocking down said obstacle just as the rider it was meant for is turning off the piste and committed to their approach. Ooops. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. (Kudos Mr Pegg. Brilliant film.)

But swearing. I know of at least two other people who do it. I asked my coach if she does it. She said yes. But she has learned to do it under her breath.

I was wondering why it happens. I jump higher jumps in training and I don’t swear. So, perhaps not fear. I can only assume that we put so much pressure on ourselves to arrive on time, with all our stuff (I know of one rider who forgot his horse), with clean clothes and clean horse and clean tack and just being cleaner than normal that a bit of filth just has to happen to balance it all back out again.

Who knows?

Sports Psychologists, probably.

I shall ask one if they want to shadow me. It can be my contribution to the enormous bubble of information that is Equitation.

So there I was. All clean. Jumping in the correct direction. My boyfriend fully trained in the art of pressing ‘record’ on my phone. I know which jumps to jump. And in which order. My horse is all warmed up. And I have put to sleep my only worry about Amateur shows; there are always 2, or even 3, horse/rider combos in the ring at any one time.

I stayed out.

I firmly waited outside of the ring until the rider before me was on his home run. There was no way on earth I was going to risk fucking it up and getting in the way. No siree!

When I rode in, I ran a check-list:

  • Chin up
  • Shoulders back
  • No! Don’t hollow your back!
  • Put more weight in your stirrups
  • Hands down, Ellie! Grab his mane to keep them in place

Then I get to the jump:

  • What? Why did you fold yourself in two over that jump?
  • Feet! They don’t need to be by your ears
  • Fuuuuuuuuuuck! Hahahahahaa!! OMG! Sit up!
  • The second in the double … shiiiiiiiiit, fuck, knacker, bollocks, sit back up you daft cow!
  • Calm, Zen. Remember, guard the rhythm. Ba-boom, ba-boom, ba – oh my god, Jesus H Fucking Christ, ba-boom hahahahahahaha!!!!!!

You get the idea. And I apologize to Americans. I know you drink and swear less than us Brits.

My only regret is not wearing a headcam. Frederic did well filming considering he is a total technophobe, but my telephone did not pick up the sound. I can ‘hear’ some of what I am saying, but only because I knew what it was.

I came out of that ring laughing my head off. It was a total blast. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Ok. I know my coach would have been face-palming. She has a face-palming emoji. I know me and my horse are capable of a lot better.

I know one should take it more seriously.

But why?

I had fun. Is that not the point? I cantered about in posh, clean clothes and said naughty words in a loud voice. Who needs alcohol? Who needs drugs?


Who needs horses?


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