I was living in a small town in
Western Massachusetts at the time. I had met, in a neighboring small town, a wonderful horsie kid and her mom and grandmother. The mom’s name was Sally. She was named after Sally Swift, who had been the grandmother's counselor at a childhood horse camp, long ago, and who had clearly, even then and as a very young person, been able to make a pretty big impression. I knew that Sally Swift’s influence was deep and real and seemed well deserved. I found the book, CENTERED RIDING, to be interesting and thought provoking but also weird and somewhat confusing. . I knew also that Sally had influenced some excellent horsemen and riders, including Denny Emerson, who I consider a real stylist.
But I wasn’t sure what to expect at the clinic. I got there early and had a muffin and coffee while waiting for things to start. This was a three day CR jumping clinic, with Susan Harris, who I also admired as the author of GROOMING TO WIN, as the clinician. As I waited, I looked around at the people congregating.
With me, as a fellow Smith instructor, was another life long George Morris type who was little and tough and an excellent rider, a few years older than me. We were joined by a woman in her mid forties who had only been riding a couple of years but who was a total CR head. She had a few students outside the Smith program who were also attending the clinic. In all there were about 30 people.
Susan arrived. I had never met her in person. I did not know it was she. I saw only a morbidly obese woman with a shy and friendly demeanor. I rolled my eyes in my head, dismissively, as only a tall skinny snotty rider bitch can roll them.
I was immediately mortified to learn that this was Susan.
(Should I tell you now that I have a gift for this kind of thing? Oy, the stories I can, and probably will, tell, in the interest of humility and disclosure! I have earned every single cosmic slap I have ever received, but do I ever learn? Um...are we speaking rhetorically?)
The clinic began. We introduced ourselves and gave short bios. The group seemed to be divided somewhat in to two groups. In my mind it was Me's and Them's. Horse girls, and…er…Non Horse Girls. *We* were skinny, fit, in breeches and Dehners, and *they*, not so much, in Kerrits and suede half chaps. Ha! My inner snob was having a field day!
And we all know how that sort of thing ends, don’t we!