The link between sports and girls and confidence is well documented. Competition and being a part of a team hands girls and women the tools of bad-assery necessary to follow ambition in other aspects of their lives. No offense to other sports, but there’s nothing like an equestrian sport, and being teammates with a giant effing animal.
These are the sports of Jackie Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth and Elizabeth Taylor.
It’s been a week where the goals, ambition, and hard work of my sport has been my saving grace. It’s the runs around Wash Park, where every step I hate is going to be more endurance that I can call upon in the middle of a 4’3″ AO course. It’s the beginnings of No Stirrup November where my thighs have been on fire. It’s hacking Fitz and kicking him up, leg to hand, building his ability to gallop in hand, responsive to collection and opening, that will make all the difference in jump-offs. It’s the focus and goal-orientation that has kept me from screaming.
I live for politics. Live for it. Always have. Yet I finally hit a wall around Tuesday of last week, and the bricks of that wall kept raining down the rest of the week.
The Trump campaign and the toxicity of his candidacy fully collided in my liberal, pretty-damn-white city last week. So close to the election, where people are finally “coming home” to vote with their parties, it’s finally time to make the call on whether you support Trump or Clinton. There’s no more hiding behind third party candidates, or distancing oneself from how they’ll ultimately vote. It’s real now y’all. Somewhere in there, it seems like there’s been an internalization of the misogyny and racism and hatred espoused by Trump, and it’s manifesting itself in actions against people I know and love, against me, in the most enraging of ways. Our white privilege has run up against the hazard of being female.
Men are the actual worst, part one trillion nine hundred and sixty five. https://t.co/j4QfnKpXDm
— Annie Lowrey (@AnnieLowrey) November 3, 2016
I hit that wall and I’ve been beside myself with defiance ever since. I have had it. And the only place where I can be placated is on the back of my horse.
Someone once said that the only emotions that belong in the saddle are a sense of patience and humor. I get that it’s warning against bringing negativity to your ride, but it leaves out the feelings of joy, of accomplishment, of pride that belong there too. I will not bring my anger at someone’s unchecked entitlement to my body, or to the abuse and harassment levied at my friends to my saddle. The French leather of my beautiful CWD 2GS can’t handle denim, let alone that rough poison. But that feeling of empowerment, of knowing that my core, and my thighs and my calves will support me and my 1500 lb beast as well gallop down to the base of a 4′ oxer? That’s what I take to the fight against those who would use their privilege in threatening – directly or indirectly – me or my friends or my country.
I can walk into any of my horses’ stalls, and command respect. They are all gigantic – at least 17.1 hh each (5′ 8″ at the base of their withers). Part of this respect is, admittedly, in their own self interest of the constant supply of carrots or cookies in my pocket. It’s also because they are all my teammates. I have literally trusted each of them with my life, and in return, they have all trusted me to not ask them to do anything they can’t do. Even Folie, who would pin her ears and turn her butt to me when she was mad, regarded me with respect even in her foulest moods; we were equals, even though she could kill me (aside: still not quite believing she’s gone. Such was the force of that little mare).
So by god, the idea that a bunch of white guys, threatened with equality of people of color and women, as if that somehow diminishes themselves, are going to take down this country, and try and take down us as individuals in the process just enrages me.
I’ve been kicked and bitten and bucked off. I have laid breathless in an arena as Bjorn freaking Ikast rushed to my side, rubbed my back and encouraged me to breathe after I was jumped off (kind of like being bucked off, but when a horse jumps so hard it unseats you)(also: omg, it was simultaneously the most embarrassing moment of my life and really exciting because Bjorn freaking Ikast cared enough to run into the arena to me…). I have lost significant chunks of memory due to concussions (not so shocking, since our sport leads in concussions). Basically, I ain’t scared of your white male privilege.
How did Liz and Jackie put up with the nonsense dealt to them at the hands of men? Easy: they knew they could handle these impressive 4-legged beasts. The only that surprises me? That Hillary herself isn’t an equestrian.