Confessions: Sisterhood of the Way-Too-Tight Pants

The author in one of her many pairs of riding pants. The author in one of her many pairs of riding pants.

So, I’m going to share with you, my newfound Eventing Nation buddies, something scary. You may not want to read this at work (for more than one reason) because you may gasp out loud, and then your co-workers will wonder exactly what is on your screen, and you don’t want them to look over and see yet again our favorite blue and red banner on the top of your screen.

We will keep it among ourselves that we check Eventing Nation approximately 36,562 times a day, and yes, perhaps, even at work (shhhh).

Here goes my confession (my eyes are closed here, so no laughing at my typos): I am not Silva Martin. *insert gasps of disbelief here*

Most days I wish I was Silva Martin, or Sinead Halpin, Allison Springer, Hawley Bennett-Awad, Katie Murphy, or *insert name of young, gorgeous, well-proportioned, FIT women rider here*.

I wish I could spend my days riding horses and waking up every day hurting from riding too much instead of waking up hurting because I bent over to tie my paddock boot and stayed there a little too long for the ever-aging tendons and muscles that hold me up.

I know we all wish we were those women for a host of reasons (not the least of which may or may not be Mr. Silva Martin), but my envy isn’t for the reason you might think. Yes, these women are top riders.

Yes, they are talented, hard working, fearless, determined women who work their backsides off daily in the horse industry. Yes, these women have beautiful horses, beautiful dogs, beautiful husbands, and heck, I bet they even look good with bed head on show mornings. It’s for none of those reasons that I want to be them.

They just plain look good in riding pants. Full stop.

(I can hear you now: “Ohhhhh.” I TOLD YOU not to read this at work. Don’t blame me if you get looks).

You see, I have yet another confession to make. You have already read my neurotic ramblings and true confessions, so I know you will understand and like me even with this horrifying reveal:

I collect riding pants.

By the dozen.

It’s a thing.

But I’m hoping by coming clean, gentle reader, my mother’s voice on my shoulder saying, “STOP buying riding pants” will become my actual own voice when my wallet is in my hand. Right now, I take my dear friend Jill with me when shopping, who will, in the most loving of ways, distract me out of the tack shop by holding some horse related shiny object in front of my face until she can safely slam the car door on me and my wallet.

I have tried on more than one occasion to understand this obsession I have with what we all intellectually know to be beautiful helpful garments, lycra-laced monstrosities feats of engineering, built of carefully riveted sewn girdle-in-a-former-life material. However, insight and therefore understanding escapes me on this one.

Truth be told, to start, I have at least seven pairs of white show pants. Yes, those ones that are called “show” pants not because they are worn exclusively on show day. Nope. It’s because, as we mere mortals, aka amateurs, know, well, they “show” EVERYTHING.

Shout out to the inventor of the under breech thingie, a kind of Under Armour-ish sausage casing. This thingie claims to protect innocent eyes from your VPL aka “visible panty line.”

(For those who grew up in the present age, VPL has all but been rendered extinct by the helpful-but-dreaded thong. Back in the day, the simple, innocent act of wearing underwear under breeches resulted in this demon VPL. However, it was so common that it was considered normal *gasp* and no one thought we needed protection from it, but Victoria blew that secret and convinced us to buy thongs. Devil spawn.  As usual I digress … )

This beautiful flesh colored glorious under-ish armor will also hold in your “I’ve had three kids dammit” warrior wounds we all politely call cellulite. They go under your riding pants to smooth and shape you into blue ribbon perfection. (Just what I need, another layer between my thighs and onlookers. Hey, people, I have a day job in which I encounter far too many donuts and far too few salads.)

If you purchase the aforesaid, which is a very good idea actually, except not on me, good luck breathing/bending your limbs/applying subtle aids/not fainting in those puppies. (Reports back from the frontlines welcome if you experience them, just sayin’. I may have to give up my ignorant pre-judgment of these potentially useful pantaloons and go shopping to get me some.)

Yep, show pants. Seven pairs of those creamy white gleamers. Dividing this venerable number by the number of actual formal shows I did last summer, I could probably switch pants between warm up and performance three times before actually having to try to wash those bad boys.

Note to self: not a bad plan given what we all now know from my previous blogs. Riding Sweetie, warmup is just an exercise in how to avoid running over the steward. Changing show pants might provide the perfect excuse to avoid that whole soiree … hmmm. Goal for 2015: acquire enough show pants to avoid warm up altogether, thereby ensuring the safety of innocent bystanders.

But back to reality: For common, everyday riding, I have at least 20, that’s right, two zero, pairs. I have my prized purple pair, two pink pairs (pink is my “signature color,” dontcha know), three blue pairs, plaids, stripes, black and pink combo … well, you get the idea. I’ve never met a pair I didn’t covet.

If I meet you at a show or other horse gathering, I will smile and be polite, but I’m probably checking out your riding pants. Don’t be offended. I think my condition is in the DSM under “OCD,” that is, “ocular covetousness disorder,” subtype: tight shaped pants. Really. It’s there. (Note to self: contact author of DSM to quickly insert OCD: TSP as a thing. Whew, that was close.)

It defies logic that one person can need so many riding pants. I do have a job that is not horse related. OK, well, I have worn breeches and tall boots to work on more than one occasion, ostensibly in the name of “Ralph Lauren-ish” fashion, and not because, as many suspect, I’m too lazy to change after work to go to the barn. Try it girls and boys. You feel like you’re connected to your pony all day long. Sigh. *insert dreamy look of horse love in eyes*.

So why so many pants?

Having carefully worked this through with a licensed and highly experienced therapist, I have hit upon the answer. I bet you already guessed. It’s akin to why we women buy so many shoes, or so many handbags. (P.S. I have gotten over the shoe/handbag obsession, because horse economics dictates that if I buy a pair of shoes for myself, that’s one fewer pair of shoes for Sweetie. And God knows I can’t buy one pair for ME to deny her one of HER 11 pairs PER YEAR. Dang, did I just type that? Anyway, you who prioritize like me see my point.)

It’s the quest for ONE PAIR that will make me look like a perfect, actual elegant rider who isn’t all over her horse like a cheap suit.

Seems reasonable, right? I mean, let’s think about how often we shop for bathing suits. I have eight bathing suits and I never swim (unless it’s on Sweetie’s back, yeah, ok, so maybe once a year). I have it in my head that there is a suit out there in retail land that will make me look PERFECT, like *insert name of supermodel du jour here*.

I haven’t hit upon it yet, but I still spend hours searching, trying on, checking my booty in multiple mirrors, start crying, promise myself I’m going to the gym, and cheerfully handing over my credit card to the outwardly smiling but I’m sure inwardly cringing sales clerk.

So it is with riding pants. So far, I haven’t found the holy grail of breeches, that one pair that makes me look like Silva et al. I have had to settle for looking like almost-52 year old me, that five foot three one hundred forty pound (there, I said it) mother of two teenagers, complete with cellulite, bumps in weird places and an ever thickening waist (damn you, Ben & Jerry, you and your cursed best ice cream on the planet. What do you do, put a siren song in each pint that sings my name in the grocery store, turning me into a robot that … Must. Obtain. Chubby Hubby. ?!)

Wait, what’s that you’re mumbling? Perhaps it’s not the … pants that will do it? I have to actually, like, work out, eat right, lose weight, ride more and gasp! Even ride without stirrups for the entire month of November? Um, no, where have you been? That’s clearly not the answer, and very un-American. That would be HARD (insert whiny voice here), and require effort! No! No, no, no, no.

Crud. So, wait, I do THAT and my pants won’t be too tight? I might not look like a sausage in them? My leg muscles might lengthen down around my horse instead of being impeded by my thigh fat? My boobs might not hit me in the chin when I sit the trot? (Sorry, I know we were talking about pants, but can anyone relate? Thank you.) I’m hearing Denny Emerson’s voice here … “It’s work people! Good riders don’t bounce!”

Ok, ok, I get it. I can’t just BUY something, some magical garment that will hide my flaws and make me look and ride like a champion. I have to work at it. Therefore, I promise, girls and boys, that I will actually try to use the pants I already own in my riding work. I will sew the ones with the tiny holes in them that I may or may not have poked into them seeking an excuse to buy more.

That is, I will if you will, sisters.

Having taken this pledge with me, now you are free to ignore the fact that Black Friday is coming up! Isn’t that liberating? Just by reading my confession, I have saved you hours of clicking through sales and deals, trying on the pants when they arrive (“Isn’t this stuff supposed to stretch?!”) and multiple dollars out of your wallet. You can thank me later.

The quest is real. Go shopping! Go riding pants!

Go Eventing!

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