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15 September 2003 @ 09:04 pm
Joustery Musings  
Friday evening I was sitting at the Tack House campfire with Chant and Lewis. We spoke of any number of things, when suddenly Lewis said, "You know I really have to give you your props."

"Pardon?" said I.

"I’ve spent a lot of the summer riding you about your shield fading, or about the bet we have on winning the games, but I never tell you what a great job you do."

I was flummoxed. Of late I’ve let myself be riled by those who would qualify what I do. I posted about this on Sheroes. What I mean is, those who say, "I don’t approve of female jousters, but I think you’re ok." and so forth. As a little aside, Kelley told me just this weekend that SHE didn’t think it was a good idea, but I’ve changed her mind. ("You could have been considered just a ‘trick’, but you’ve proven that you can do everything the boys can."... we discussed the fact that they all have at LEAST fifty pounds on me, so if they wanted to unhorse me they probably could... but I do the same number of passes, I take serious hits and deal them out as well, and I am, blast it all, a good rider!)

Regarding Lewis’ comments: I’m certain I’ll be paraphrasing, since I was so floored by this that I had a bit of a buzzing in my ears as he spoke. The gist of it is: "When we started teaching you, you were pretty good. When we first put you in the show, you did fine. Now no one can question that you do exactly what the rest of us do. Your being a ‘woman jouster ‘isn’t a gimmick. You’re a jouster who happens to have tits." and more supportive things besides.

On top of that, I got a tremendous compliment from Jeff, of whom I was so trepidatious at the beginning of the season (see earlier entries). "You are the best horseman of all of us," he said, "you have to know that." And later, we were speaking of my being a female in a predominantly male field. "I’m not trying to prove a point," I said, "hell, I’m don’t even consider myself a feminist." (and I don’t... I’m just Me. Just a person.) "You," he said, quite serious, "are a class act."

It means so much to me to be the best partner I can to my teammates, and to make them (especially those who trained me) proud. I’ll never stop trying to be better; that’s just me. Still.. these are the words of people whose opinions I value and trust. I will try to boot aside overweening self-doubt and accept that I really do have some skill here.

One last note: on the subject of horsemanship, I mentioned this in my novella-length entry about closing weekend: Oso, my joust horse, was unwell on closing day. His rider of many years, J.T., happened to be there that weekend. When he heard how I had made the decision (on the field, mid-show) to pull him, he was pleased. He caught up with me later. "I am so glad you’re the one riding him now," he said. "I don’t think anyone else would have had the sensitivity to him to know something was really wrong." I told him that I could feel something amiss. On my rideout, Oso was doing everything he could to give me a slow canter. And, frankly, if I’d asked him to, he’d have done the whole gaming course and jousted besides. That horse has the biggest heart I’ve ever encountered. I couldn’t do that to my partner, though, and so I dismounted and slashed my hand parallel to the ground, thus signaling he was done. J.T.’s appreciation meant a great deal to me. Oso is HIS horse, really, and I’ve just been the fill-in-guy. We’ve developed our own rapport, but it is nice to know that J.T. feels his horse has been left in good hands.
I hear: 'Chicken on a Raft" (don't ask)