When it comes to horses and equestrian sports, I am probably a bit myopic. I can’t see beyond the mane in front of me and the ground rushing past no matter how far into the future I squint to focus. I can’t imagine life without them, though there have been short, dry spells when the smell of manure, the itch of hay and the soreness of muscles weren’t daily features.
There are rich traditions in the equine world. Odd little rituals and usages of items that date to necessity in everyday life. The stiff, white stock-tie fastened with a gold safely pin originates from a time when horsemen might just need a good, long bandage and a way to fasten it; for either his horse or himself. We mount from the horse’s left side because if you were a soldier carrying your sword on your left hip (to easily grab it with your right hand), it was the safest way to gain access to the saddle without impaling yourself or your horse.
North of Boston, appropriately named “The North Shore,” towns reek of Yankee history, from witches in Salem to artist colonies in Rockport. It is also boasts the town of Hamilton, home of the Myopia Hunt Club and Polo Grounds. It was to this hallowed ground of fox-hunting and all things equestrian that I found myself headed on Sunday.
Julia’s employer was holding a private corporate event at Myopia and she invited me to accompany her. Wait, a trial ride through majestic estates? What company picnic could ever compare? Her employer, Dover Saddlery arranged for the joint masters of the Myopia Hunt to lead us for two hours. There was ample opportunity to jump, gallop or just take a slow walk to enjoy the day on the landmark grounds.
It was about a two-hour drive and we left late. With Julia piloting the truck and trailer we swung onto the highway only to realize neither of us had looked for directions. Before I could punch in my pin to unlock my phone, she had pulled up the map and directions on hers, while zipping along, never taking her eyes off the road. Note to self: Don’t compete technologically with a 22-year old. We arrived in good time and parked with a dozen or so similar trucks and trailers. The polo practice arena was full with the Havard University team practicing against a local group.
Interesting to note, the Myopia Hunt evolved from the Myopia Nine, one of the earliest baseball teams, formed in 1870 the Boston area. Of the nine players, five wore glasses thus garnering them the name. Eventually the group introduced equestrian sports and in 1882 The Myopia Hunt Club moved from Winchester, MA to its current home in Hamilton.
We had a diverse array of riders; company executives, customer service representative, the Myopia Masters and outsiders like myself. In the end, we all just came together to enjoy the late fall with our horses…