Showjumping on the French Club Circuit. A Grubby Person’s Guide.

White.

What a bloody silly colour for jodhpurs.

Only a person with servants would come up with that as being appropriate to wear around large animals who roll in mud and love to give you kisses directly after eating a carrot and/or filling their face with water.

That person needs a slap. Along with the persons in charge of ordering orange sand for their arenas. And the person in charge of rain.

It’s not so bad if you have a working washing machine. Mine gave me electric shocks. I became so scared I threw it out. I use a bucket now. Or the bath.

I fill the bath with dirty washing and roll up my trousers. Glass of wine in hand I stomple (trample + stomp) my dirty clothing to within an inch of its life.

Quite therapeutic, actually, in a multi-tasking sort of way. Exercise, laundry, and a party all in one. It is also an act of dare-devilry.

My bath is a normal bath.

However, it is not in a normal place. Let me explain.

I fitted the bath into a downstairs room where it was easy to plumb in and out. However, I decided that if the bath was upstairs in the barn I would have a sufficient drop for the water to drain down into storage tanks and be used to sprinkle the lawn and water the flowers.

I lugged up a load of planks to make a floor; only to discover I did not have quite enough to finish. I was missing a bath-sized area.  So I simply slotted the bath in between 2 beams which, coincidentally, were exactly the right width apart for the bath to sit on without falling through.

Hey Presto!

A sunken bath.

Then in the interests of safety, I screwed in some big hooks and ran a tractor chain underneath. Purely as a precaution. I am sure if I was soaking in the bath and the combined weight of the water and me did become a little too much then there would be warning noises before the ensemble plummeted to the ground 11 metres away.

Well, one would hope.

You will have heard of ‘The House That Jack Built’. I introduce you to ‘The House That Drunk Built’.

But white competition jodhpurs are impossible to clean adequately using this method. Especially when you have a phobia of harsh chemicals.

I scrub away with my little hands gripping a bar of Savon de Marseilles. Wondering if they will dry before I have to leave to meet the lorry in 6 hours’ time.  Cursing my lack of organisational skills. And mentally ticking things off my preparation for a show list.

Is my flask still unbroken? Will my sandwiches fit into that ice cream tub I can see on the table? How many oranges will fit in my pocket? Where is my other boot?

I know the scrubbing is an act of futility. Within 20 seconds of removing my protective wrapping I will be filthy. I am a grubby person regardless of precautions.

Someone’s child will fall on me, grabbing hold with their choclately limbs and rubbing their face in my whiteness. A dog will run through a puddle I had previously not noticed. A bird will suddenly decide to defecate. The aforementioned carrot-eater will dribble and sneeze at the same time. Another child will lose control of their Shetland and barrel into me from behind. Yet more children will be poop-scooping and texting and talking at the same time and hit me with the fork. And all before I have even walked the course.

And why do I choose white horses to ride?

Or yellowy-orange-grey horses who would be white if they did not lie down in crud just after I have used the last of my personal shampoo on them. They may smell all Timotei-y but they look like what they are – beasts.

To paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow, “feeling sullied and unusual” I now have to guard my zen, fend off the raptor-like small people who want to ‘help’, then memorise a course when I can’t even find the first fence.

Or my coach.

Not to be deterred I walk the course looking like I know exactly what I am doing whilst hopping over orange lakes and avoiding the hidden depths of the huge puddles.

My head is held high as I leap proudly onwards. Searching out fence after fence and striding the strides that I will later on ride. Poetic.

Just the madness of the warm-up ring now.

I will leave my musings on this marvellous place for another time when I can give the experience the details it deserves. Suffice it to say some person in advertising really should film the goings on.

Ten to 15 horse and rider combos all cantering about in different directions aiming for the same 3 jumps while their coaches stand in the way chain-smoking and shouting, yet oblivious to the fact that one of their charges is being dragged by their stirrup-trapped foot while another is giving a really good impression of a bronco rider.

On reflection, maybe we don’t look too bad. We are not the most sparkly, gleamy, coiffured horse/rider duo but we are beginning to look like we know what we are doing.  

Here are two rounds at Haras du Parc.  We didn’t fall off once.

Thankfully, for the sake of dignity and my jodhpurs I seem to be sticking to the age-old adage – always keep the horse between yourself and the ground.

ps – Who else thinks ‘jodhpurs’ is a silly word?

11 thoughts on “Showjumping on the French Club Circuit. A Grubby Person’s Guide.”

  1. Two clear rounds on the vid, and you cleaned the horse in between them. Jolly well done, what!
    I’ve always loved watching showjumping, wanted to do it but never got beyond sitting atop a huge chestnut named Jonathan who would just about oblige and step over some poles placed on the ground. He was too lazy to do much else, which was the only reason that I, at five foot nothing, was allowed to ride him. I wasn’t regarded as good material ‘cos mummy and daddy couldn’t spend half a fortune on horses and tack and anyway we were in the army and moved across the world every few months!
    Jodhpurs are named after the city of Jodhpur in India, I think. Never been there, maybe they all wear P shape trousers.
    Love this blog, keep it up. Sue x

  2. hello Sue. thank you for your lovely comments. Jonathan is such a good name for a horse. unexpected, but in a good way. i am five foot two if i stand tall and walk proud. jodhpurs are indeed named after a place in the Indian region of Rajasthan. I notice that you too are a blogger so I am away now to read yours.

    1. Thank you Karen. I really appreciate it when people take the time to leave a comment. I hope you will read the previous articles and enjoy those too. have a good weekend

  3. Sheanne Ridehalgh

    Double clear. You go, girl. Very proud of you, Ellie, you’ve stuck at it and made a success of French life. Afraid I take credit for you having the first bath installed downstairs ahead of schedule, as you so enjoyed the bath at Le Bragoulet our joint first Christmas in France. It was fun, wasn’t it, despite the strangeness. Not sure I’d cope with the present bath, but then I was always over cautious, wasn’t I? xxxx

  4. Pingback: Hands up who swears and/or laughs out loud whilst competing? – how to become an international show jumper before you are 50

  5. Never knew Jodhpur was Indian.. white is a ridiculous colour for anything but sheep. I wear black for must of my day.. so much easier to ignore carrot, chocolate, blood, and other bodily fluids. Horse seemed a bit ambivalent “i’ll do it if i have to but its a bit muddy” kinda way.. Very well done!!

    1. Wolfie? I love that! Many riding terms are Indian. Especially to do with clothing and Polo. The rest are French. Apart from Rolkur which I think is German. But I am happy to be corrected.

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