In the Bling of an Eye

 (“I have a theory,” he said.) 

Country music star Tim McGraw‘s dad was famous too — the top reliever/closer for the New York Mets and later the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1980 his ninth inning World Series strike out of the Kansas City Royals’ Willie Wilson gave the Phillies their first title in 97 years. After the game he was asked how he could stay focused under the pressure of 50,000 howling fans screaming at him with the game riding on every pitch. “I have a theory,” he said,

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Last night I attended an ably presented one and a half hour online webinar on the changes to DR120.

If your rule book isn’t handy, that’s all about the dress code for dressage competitions.

It made me sad.

As a curmudgeon–in–training, I recognize that time doesn’t stand still and the Old Guard always laments changes to their familiar world. That was true from the time that one tempis, a non-classical “trick,” were added to the Grand Prix, and much more recently when vocals became the norm in freestyle music.

The wildly expanded list of fabrics, textures, patterns, and doodads to every element of clothing and saddle pads, aside from opening up a multitude of clown show/masquerade ball Las Vegas-y potentials, is that it took that long to explain what is and is not now permissible. AND in this highly subjective realm, a violation of the new code requires mandatory elimination. In the spirit of the NFL‘s “Is it a catch or isn’t it a catch,” technical delegates are advised to take photos of the possibly offending attire to send to the USEF for a definitive ruling on their legality (obviously not on their taste).

What makes me sad is so much time, effort, and money being diverted to something so far from why presumably we are all there— the riding, remember?

Perhaps it would be simpler to have a fashion show on Saturday evening and conduct a non-glitzy competition the next day. I have said before (back in the top hat and tails day) Dressage is the only Olympic sport where the athletes dress as though they are going to a duel. Either give them pistols or let them wear something akin to track suits (and boots) in their national colors. Were it not for the chafing issues, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next step leans towards the uniforms of women’s pro beach volleyball! Anything to boost the TV ratings.

When the webinar concluded, I didn’t feel much like eating dinner. I stayed awake late into the night pondering the added burden of divorcing from my mind the distractions of gross and absurd costumes when I am trying to judge our sport. And then I remembered Tug McGraw‘s theory.

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“How do I block out the din of thousands of shrieking patrons? I remember scientists predicting that in the far away future when the sun has gone supernova and shrunken to a tiny white dwarf, the earth will become an uninhabited, charred cinder, and no one will care if I got this guy out or not.”

And that’s how I consoled myself as I finally drifted off to sleep.