ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the November 4, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] rix_scaedu and [personal profile] siliconshaman. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Dr. Infanta thread of the series Polychrome Heroics.


"A Means to the Knowledge"


Alicia worried about Judd
even though he was a huge horse
who insisted he could handle combat.

Cheval pointed out that
some of Judd's injuries
in the last fight had come from
imperfect teamwork, not just
concerted enemy action.

He set Alicia and Judd
to practicing together
as a means to the knowledge
they needed to learn.

It worked for a while,
but it wasn't very exciting
and they had nobody
to gauge their skills against.

"Miss dress," Judd grumbled.

"You miss dressage?" Cheval said
as he swept the currycomb
over the gleaming black flanks.
"I can see why. You were good at it."

They had tracked down his history
after he joined their odd little family.
Alicia had the pictures on her wall.

"There's a pony club in the area,"
Nanette said. It was one advantage
to spending time in England:
lots of people liked equestrian sports.
"They're holding a gymkhana meet soon."

"Not pony," huffed Judd.
Indeed, a small pony could have
walked right under his belly.

"It's just for fun," Nanette said.
"They might let you play.
We can at least go and ask."

"Come on," Alicia wheedled.
"We'll have a great time!"

Judd nodded.

So they went to the gymkhana meet,
where the ringmaster stared at
the tiny girl perched atop
the enormous Friesian stallion.

"We'd like to participate in your event,"
Nanette said politely from the ground.

"Can play too?" Judd asked,
and then everyone was staring.

"Judd's a person and we need
to practice our teamwork only
it's boring all by ourselves,"
Alicia explained.

"He's so big," one boy whispered.

"When she falls off,
she's gonna go splat,"
a plump girl replied.

"Does everyone agree that
Alicia being way up high makes
a fair offset for Judd being smart?"

The children muttered amongst themselves
and soon agreed that it was fair.
The ringmaster handed Cheval a flyer
listing the activities, which he read aloud
so that Judd would know what they were.

"Sound off: first rule of gymkhana,"
said the ringmaster.

"Be safe!" the children chorused.

"Second rule."

"Have fun!"

"Third rule."

"Play to grow, not to win!"

"Remember to watch each other
for skills," the ringmaster said.
"First event: bobbing for apples."

Everyone raced to the far end of the field.
Judd got there long before the tiny ponies.
Alicia dismounted and used her long experience
to nab an apple from the tub.

Then she realized that the stirrup
was ... way ... up ... there.

By the time she scrambled up Judd's side
and they made it back to the finish line,
everyone else was done except for
one boy who couldn't catch an apple
and finally just gave up.

Alicia and Judd didn't care.
This was more fun than they'd had all week.

Ring the Pole involved racing through
the bending poles -- which were spaced
for the ponies, requiring more care from Judd --
to drop wooden rings over the target poles.
They managed a credible middle place there.

Gretna-Green started with a race
to a pile of old clothes, where Alicia had to
dismount, put on a shirt and pants,
then remount and ride back.

Judd had the bright idea of lying down,
and was able to warn, "Button!"
when Alicia hastily put one in the wrong hole,
but it took him so long to wallow upright again
that they came in last.

Bottle and Cone started out well;
even with the height difference,
Alicia was agile enough to bend down
and snag the bottles to move to different cones.

Then Judd hit one with his long flowing tail,
so she had to dismount to replace it,
and there went their lead.

When the Egg and Spoon race was called,
Judd gave his deep horsey laugh --
and sprang into a gorgeous extended trot
that flowed so smoothly, Alicia was
the only rider who never dropped her egg.

After that, the ringmaster handed out
the award ribbons for the event.
They were all a pale lavender,
with "Best At" printed at the top
in tall letters of shiny gold,
under which was a blank space.

"Okay, team! Time to test
your observation skills,"
the ringmaster said.
"You all worked really hard.
Who did the best at what?"

The regular members debated
with the ease of long practice,
calling out what they'd seen.
Everyone agreed that
Dickon on Brownie won on speed,
and Siobhan on Cloud won on precision.

They got into an argument over whether
Arran on Snowflake or Tom on Honey
had the better seat.

"Tom," said Judd.

"Straight from the horse's mouth,"
the ringmaster said. "Tom, you're best seat."

"Heard it," Judd said,
snorting all over the man's jacket.

"People say that to him a lot,"
Alicia explained.

"I just meant you're the best qualified
to judge the quality of a rider's seat,"
the ringmaster said. "Unique perspective."

Then it was their turn.
"What do you think Alicia and Judd
did best at?" the ringmaster asked.

"That trot," said Tom,
and Dickon agreed, "Egg racing."

"Overcoming obstacles!" said Siobhan.
"Nothing was their size, but they
really worked together and made it
through every event on the list."
Everyone cheered at that.

"It's what we came for,"
Alicia said quietly.

"Come again," the ringmaster encouraged
as he penned the accomplishment on their ribbons --
one for each of them, since horse and rider
were both persons.

"We might just do that," Alicia agreed
as Nanette pinned her ribbon to her blouse
and Cheval fastened Judd's to his bridle.

They weren't always in this part of the world
but friends were worth keeping in touch,
and this event was a means to knowledge
of more than just one kind.

* * *

Notes:

Practice makes improvement in equestrian sports and other skills. Effective practice should be both deliberate and fun. Know how to practice anything.

Dressage includes some showy gaits. This video shows dressage with an extended trot starting at 3:28. A skilled mount can make a very smooth ride out of it. Learn about basic dressage.

Gymkhana is a collection of equestrian games most often played with ponies, stressing precision and cooperation. Popular games include bending races, ring the pole, bottle & cone, egg-and-spoon, Gretna-Green, and apple bobbing. Watch a gymkhana video.

There has been much debate about whether kids should get ribbons win or lose. Done badly, it's very discouraging. However, everyone is good at something, and a skilled teacher will point out what and support it. These freestyle "Best At" ribbons are one good way. Dividing a big competition into smaller, specific categories is another, as we did in my Young Astronauts club. It teaches people to be observant and celebrate each other's accomplishments. Learn how to believe in yourself.

Diversity and inclusivity have many advantages. (In Terramagne, we can add keeping people with superpowers happy and fulfilled so they feel less inclined to wreak havoc. A polite society is a safe society!) With a little ingenuity and compassion, you can usually find ways to include everyone. This creates a positive learning environment. Here are tips on making sports more inclusive.

Lovely!

Date: 2015-01-28 02:03 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
This blends the things Alicia needs (support, a cultural group of peers if not an actual one, and challenges just beyond her current skill set) with the things she wants (friends, playmates, fun) in a way that makes me want to move to T-America NOW.

Because it gives Judd more people who treat him as an equal, and a chance to play and work on his skills, too.

Thanks for posting this today in particular!

Re: Lovely!

Date: 2015-04-27 01:40 am (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
Yea, exactly!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-28 05:32 am (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I love this. In every way.

Re: Yay!

Date: 2015-01-28 02:18 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I was going to list my favorite parts, but then realized I'd have to just copy/paste the entire poem.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-28 04:51 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
This is charming! Hooray for Judd liking dressage.

Even coming in with every apparent advantage (experience, Judd's intelligence) they're not really overwhelming to kids on ponies, and that's awesome.

I also like the ringmaster's explanation of following Judd's opinion. Not just a "ur a horse!" joke, but a good use of talent he likely hasn't seen before - this ringmaster is pretty cool.

In the same vein, I'm impressed with Nanette and Cheval. It can't be easy, being a handler to either of those two.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2015-01-30 11:06 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
>> Fresians are as good as Andalusians or Lippizaners for some of the airs above the ground, and the ground work for battlesteeds is basically draft class dressage work.<<

Cool, I didn't know that! Gotta go look up draft class dressage. (And battlesteed maneuvers, actually. About the only ones I'm aware of are the aires above the ground, because Lippizans.)

>>I think the destrier breeds should really be classed by themselves, rather than flung in with the plowhorses as "drafts." <<

I come at it from a model-horse perspective, and just like watching the real ones go. ^^ But, yes - the destriers really ought to be their own class. Even in the model-horse world, they get either put into draft or into carriage breeds, which is closer, I guess? Still, a Friesian doesn't look or perform any more like a Cob than like a Clydesdale. (Actually, I got to see a quadrille performed by Lippizans and Freisians - breathtaking.)

>>It'll take Judd a while to figure out what he can do, but the end result will be impressive.<<

Looking forward to seeing more of that! If he's a more classical-type Freisian with the muscling to back up what he -wants- to do, rather than the skinny, buttless modern type that has the desire but not the power, he's going to be a heck of a performer - and that extends to the classical uses of the aires, too. Would be fascinated to see him drop villainy and pick up regular work. I'd imagine the legal issues would be a whole new can of worms.

>> Kid has nooooo sense of self-preservation and it is absolutely nerve-wracking. <<

Oooof. Particularly if one has strong parental instincts, that's gotta be rough.

I'm glad they are both getting some much-needed gentle contact. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-28 03:04 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
I like Judd. Snorting on the Ringmaster's jacket made *me* snort. :)

Thank you!

Date: 2015-01-28 03:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> I like Judd. <<

Yay!

>> Snorting on the Ringmaster's jacket made *me* snort. :) <<

He has a very equine sense of humor, but it's the phlegmatic version that drafts tend to have, not the puckish version of the smaller and faster horses.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-28 05:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rix-scaedu.livejournal.com
I too liked Judd in this one. :)
Edited Date: 2015-01-28 05:56 am (UTC)

Thank you!

Date: 2015-01-28 05:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm happy to hear that.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-01 08:04 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Oh! I managed to miss this one.

This was lovely. ^_^ I really enjoyed it (and am glad I found something sweet and fluffy and uplifting).

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