Tag Archives: horses

'I did it my way' – OR 'It's a right-handed world'

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I DEDICATE THIS POST TO ALL THE LEFT HANDED PEOPLE IN THE WORLD
I’ve often wondered – being left handed myself – why the majority of people should be right handed; after all, we all have two hands – why should 90% of people use their right rather than their left? Should be 50/50 surely?
I went to school in the sixties so, luckily, I just missed being part of a generation that was made to feel inferior – or worse! if they were left handed. My only experience of being made to do anything right handed at school was when we learnt to knit. Obviously, my mother could knit but it was my primary school teacher, Miss Harris, who said she would have to show me ‘her way’ as apparently I was managing to add another stitch onto every row doing it ‘my way’ – that cravat I was knitting had a distinctly uneven look to it – teddy would not be pleased!!
Lots of everyday implements seemed to contrive to make life difficult  – scissors, craft knives, pencil sharpeners, can openers, but ask any left hander and they’ll say ‘especially scissors’ – and you don’t realise why (and neither do the adults around you) until much later in life – you just think you’re a bit useless (‘cack-handed’ was an expression that cropped up regularly – I’ve just looked it up in a Spanish-English dictionary and it translates as slow, clumsy, uncoordinated etc etc).
Growing up I’d say scissors and can openers caused me the most grief, later followed by corkscrews – do you know how frustrating it is to have a nice bottle of wine sitting there – and not be able to open it?  When a left hander tries to use a conventional corkscrew it travels up not down! Thank God for screw tops!
These days there is a proliferation of retailers and online sites offering anything a left hander could need – and sites that  claim their products are ‘ambidexterous’ – suitable for everyone but this is SO  not true!! I suspect a lot of them are designed by right handers.
When I got married to a Spaniard I discovered there was still a lot of real prejudice against lefties in Spain. My in-laws, the same as a lot of older people in the U.K., thought  we were the devil’s spawn – I didn’t really have a leg to stand on as far as my father-in-law was concerned – English, non-Catholic and oh! no! LEFT HANDED as well!!  He used to go beserk if he ever caught me trying to teach my children to write or draw with my pen in my left hand (where else would it be!) In fact, one of his own children – if left to her own devices, would be left-handed, but that was unthinkable so she was forced to write right-handed – and the consequence? she hates writing or reading or anything to do with studying at all! It’s interesting that the Spanish for left is ‘siniestro’  (Latin ‘sinistra’)  – which also means ‘sinister’, ‘evil’ and the Spanish for right is ‘diestro’ – which also means ‘skilful’ or ‘expert’!!
What started me on this rant? Well, this morning I was mopping the kitchen floor and to squeeze the excess water out I pressed the mop head into the bucket and turned it  – but it is SCREWED onto the handle and yes – you’ve guessed it – anything  with a thread is  also designed the wrong way for me! The mop head unscrewed and fell off! You see, it’s these little things that bug you!
There are comical sides to being a leftie. Years ago when I was learning to ride a horse (animals which by the way will have a left or right sided bias according to how they were lying in the womb), our instructor set up some jumps for us. Obviously, a jumping course, as with any other circuit,  could  be clockwise or anticlockwise – and my natural instinct would be to go anticlockwise – i.e. turn and jump the first jump on the left so off i went  but that wasn’t the way I was supposed to go that day!  – I didn’t really enjoy jumping –  riding, yes – but jumping? Not keen!  Anyway, the instructor looked on aghast as I proceeded to jump everything ‘backwards’ as she saw it and when I eventually hit the deck – inevitable, really – she loomed over me and screeched ‘I CAN’T BELIEVE  you just did that!! There is normally a pole on the ground just in front of the horse to help him judge the distance, you see, and if you jump from the other side – well, he can’t see it! It wasn’t funny at the time but everyone I told the story to later thought it was!

And those people who say – ‘Why don’t you just do it right-handed?’ …………. are really …..  quite annoying!

Horsin’ Around

Every year a friend of mine gives up a week of her time in the summer to run a Youth Clinic for young riders. The aim of the clinic is of course to hone their riding skills, but also to encourage them to socialise with other youngsters, and learn how to help themselves and each other. I have volunteered in the past but as I know very little about horses, and the bewildering array of tack they wear, I’m not much use! But I can ride and I like horses and enjoy their antics so this year I thought I’d go along to take some photos – you know, document the goings on for posterity.

The first day was horrendous as we had to endure torrential rain, but as they say ‘the show must go on’ – I’ve come to the conclusion that riders are no different from, say, golfers in their attitude to weather conditions: there are two types of weather:  ‘rainy’, which is ‘okay’ and ‘dry’, which is better!

raining   

The Youth Clinic is held in the beautiful grounds of Monnington Stud, which nestles in the Herefordshire countryside alongside the River Wye. The facilities for the horses are second to none with a beautiful stable block, a green and schooling areas galore for the lucky equine residents.

A lot of those who sign up to the Youth Clinic bring their own horses and therefore their own accommodation – it seems horse trailers have come a long way. Some of the children still like to camp out – it adds to the excitement, so they bring tents …….    and  scooters ………. and bikes ………… and their favourite teddy and ……….. well, you get the idea.

An hour or two is spent on the first morning getting the children settled and playing name games, but the very young ones must to be accompanied by a parent so there are plenty of adults on hand if they fall over,  get homesick etc.

After breakfast and the group photo it’s all hands to the pumps.

   

Carriage driving is one of the activities the kids can do but horse riding is also about tacking up and bonding with that ‘gentle giant’ (hah!) No, obviously these equines are hand picked for their kind temperament and patience. The objective is for the week to be fun, but they do a lot and so they learn a lot.

So as not to overwhelm them on the first day, a trip to Gifford’s Circus was planned for the afternoon. It was great fun – Gifford’s is a tiny family run affair and the star of the show was definitely the clown, who held it all together and kept us entertained for over two hours.

Over the next few days the sun came out, the kids relaxed, played games,

   

and tried their hand at some vaulting – from the expressions on their faces some liked that a lot more than others – 

and they learned something about the Morgan horse which is the breed that Monnington Stud promotes.

 Of course, the week has to be worthwhile for the older teenagers as well so they had instruction    from a very talented American trainer with lots of exercises in the outdoor school and on the green.

The week always ends with a gymkhana and a fancy dress parade and lots of rosettes being given out. The visiting judge casts her critical eye over proceedings and I’m sure all the young riders feel they have achieved a lot. Some have come from as far afield as Manchester so they must think it’s worth it. It wouldn’t happen without the dedication of the stud manager, Trudy, the owners of the stud, Angela Connor and John Bulmer, but it most definitely wouldn’t happen without the dedication of my good friend Hilary.