The Agony of The Feet
One thing that's changed are boots: riding boots. I used to have a pair of black, Michelan Man tire winter riding boots. They had a velcro closure in the back. They were huge and puffy. But they were WARM and wicked comfortable to ride in. And EVERYBODY at my barn and other barns had a pair. But the newer winter boots are much more streamlined with zippers up the back. I find the zippers sticky and annoying especially if I'm trying to zip them up with cold hands (as I always am). They look better. But I don't *really* give a crap what I look like when I'm schooling. They are reasonably warm with fuzzy fleece-like insides instead of nylon with a synthetic down fill. I think I'll find my Michelan Man boots sometime this spring. They are somewhere in the bowels of my parent's junk-filled 3 story barn in Western, MA. There's a chance I could have lost them in the Great Fly Wipe Explosion of '99; wherin a nasty sprayer of flyspray broke in my tack trunk and left everything in said trunk so revolting that my parents threw them into a garbage bag and took them to the dump. Still missing are: All my bits, My Rambo Rain Sheet, my Tailored Sportsman breeches that I got for $10 off of a 2nd hand rack at Urban Outfitters of all places, all my grooming equipment except for a rusted hoof pick, my black and purple saddle pad with my initials on it. Where did it all go?
Sorry, rambling there. The other thing that's changed is everybody has zippers in their boots now! Even their show boots. Back when I was showing this was unheard of. They were considered tacky and inelegant. Now, people are shelling out $500 plus to not have to shlepp around boot pulls and a boot jack wherever they go. (I'm still shlepping my boot pulls and jack whenever I use my Dahners).
The other big foot change is the new movement to shoeless horses. I NEVER saw a working horse without shoes in 20 years besides a few rarely used ponies who were more like lawn ornaments. Now, if your horse's feet are solid enough you let him go barefoot.
In general I'm so happy. My skills are coming back. My confidence is starting to return and we're talking about actually purchasing a horse this fall. But I need to find the right place to keep him. Or her. There seems to be this sweet spot that I need to find that's not too far away, with the right trainer and amenities that I can afford. I keep hearing Suzanne Wong's voice in my head: "Barn #1 is at the top of her budget, but it is only a 30 minute drive.." Once I finish checking out all the different options, I'll post an episode of "Barn Hunters" on here!