Everything Else

Trot-up Tactics, Part 1.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend quite a few Three Day events over the years, and the trot-ups have always been a source of terror if I’m competing, and a bit of nail-biting entertainment if I’m not.

For certain riders, it is the perfect excuse to model in their very own fashion show with a guaranteed captive audience, albeit only for about 60 seconds total. Big-name Designer labels have even featured in the past.

Too cool for school. HOW laid back?!

HOW laid back?!

Oh, very cool.

Too cool for school.

Since I am almost invariably my own groom, the thought of letting my horse (however beloved, coddled and appreciated s/he may be) slobber, froth or shed hairs on anything Designer, always totally precludes that option. And if I recall correctly, the rider who managed to wangle a genuine Chanel suit for the trot-up then suffered a hideous run of bad luck. Frustrated Fashionistas, beware…

"Please let your horse trot straight. Go again."

“Please present your horse straight. Go again.”

Uh oh, that's looking dangerously like National Costume, Ingrid. Could it be Lederhosen next time?!?!

Uh oh, that’s looking dangerously like National Costume, Ingrid. Could it be  Lederhosen next time?!?!

At the other extreme are the ones who go for randomly Bright and Bold, which can be very nice of course. Or the sometimes-startling Wardrobe Lucky Dip option (grab the first 4 things you found in the dark, and wear them, no matter what.)

These riders can’t possibly claim to be colourblind, as they’ve gotten up the grades – so obviously they were able to tell Orange from Pink from Yellow, and Blue from Green, at speed.

Maybe it’s a ‘do anything for a bet’ thing? Repeat offenders – you must be getting rich by now, surely… but I can’t wait to see what you wear at Badders!

There’s also the rather nice Surprise Invitation To The Royal Wedding Ensemble. Smart, chic, and quite exceptionally co-ordinated. This is not necessarily restricted to the girls, by the way.

Straight, or else...

You will go straight, or else…

Whoa pony, whoa!

Whoa pony, whoa!

What about the Over The Top Nationalistic look?  At some championships this is de rigeur, thanks to Team Outfits. Team USA’s Ralph Lauren International Golfer look at Greenwich was rather interesting…

And of course we all love an akubra, since thanks to Matt Ryan’s herculean efforts they’re now as frequently seen in the fields of Great Britain as flat tweed caps (and a lot more practical too). I hope he gets a percentage every year from Australia’s Exports Division, as he must be their most significant overseas ambassador!

We should probably draw the line at lederhosen – don’t want to scare the horses and all that. Just be glad we don’t have any Maori Three Day Eventers, since I think a full on Haka really would have them running for the hills… Oh God, mustn’t give Todd, Nicholson, Paget and co any ideas to further intimidate the opposition…

Hmm, hold on a minute… don’t the Maori warriors do the Haka nearly naked?! Now there’s an image you’ll never get out of your head. You’re welcome.

Back to reality, trot-up options for the men do sometimes seem a bit boring, unless we’re lucky enough to have anyone Scottish and Proud in the line-up, ideally on a windy day… and I never have discovered whether that’s a myth or not.

Much safer, there’s the formal but uninspiring ‘job interview at a bank’ look, sometimes cheered up by a jazzy tie (to match xc colours, natch), or the ‘chinos and jacket, spiffing day on the Riviera, what?’ ensemble (okay, that’s my favourite.) Of course, for either gender, the ultimate winner (if you’re entitled to wear it) is uniform. Can’t really go wrong there, automatically smart, well-tailored and flattering. Yes, please!

They're even in step. Bless. That's what all that square-bashing was for.

They’re in perfect balance as well as in step. Bless. So that’s what all that military square-bashing is for.

Even that uniform can't convince me, that's not straight.

Even the uniform can’t convince me, that’s not straight.

At the other end of the scale, for some of the laydeez, the name of the game seems to be How Best To Distract the Ground Jury From Closely Scrutinising My Horse. Starting with enough make-up to make Dita Van Teese blush, adding a serious push-up bra, multiple socks shoved in it if necessary, then undoing an extra top button or three, and wearing ‘fanny pelmet’ length tweed, are the time-honoured ways of attempting to achieve this. Dolly Parton would be so proud.

I really hate to say it, girls, but you might just be totally wasting your time. There are some Ground Jury members who genuinely wouldn’t notice if you sashayed along naked  looking better than Gisele, if you know what I mean…

Straightness (in your horse’s trot, of course) is essential, by the way. From a certain angle a horse curved around you as you fight for control can look lame. Argh, the dreaded four letter word.

To be continued…

All photos by very kind permission of Will Baxter. 

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