Sometimes in life you just need to poke a little fun at this whole sport. And look at some fabulous show coats in the process…
It’s the close of week 2 of the Desert Winter Circuit and so far I have just been dealing with the usual garden variety annoying retail stuff. Helping the un-helpable customer, dealing with the narcissistic trainer who thinks every brand should sponsor them, the occasional drunk shopper, who buys a bunch of stuff, and then tries to unload it back on you the next day in her sober haze, still reeking of alcohol. And my personal favorite, the customer who is looking for this specific shirt, coat, belt, pair of socks, from 2008, and absolutely nothing else will do. Oh the stories I could tell…
Well hell, life is short, and I’m bored, so let’s tell some shall we!
A young rider comes in looking for a hunt coat. This will probably be my retail equivalent of, a guy walks into a bar moment. Ok so a young rider walks in looking for a hunt coat. Sorry a jumper coat. Great, we don’t have to do the plain navy dance, or at the very least we don’t have to worry about the buttons. She’s petite and curvy, which can be an issue when shopping for clothes, especially riding clothes as most of the brands are from Europe where apparently all the women have legs for days, but are tiny everywhere else. Luckily we have a wide selection of coats, and we find a few that look great on her. We even had a sale coat or two to choose from, all half off, so a super killer deal if she’s on a budget.
We go through the normal rounds of, what color is your horse, are you doing any classics, because this one will look stunning with whites, what color don’t you have yet? And then after 15-20 minutes, and about 10 or so coats, we have a couple fantastic options to choose from. Perfect. Done deal, which one is the winner?
Oh wait, no, her trainer needs to approve of it first. Ok sure, we can put it on hold.
Young woman walks in...again…looking to try on those 4-5 jumper coats she absolutely loves, now with 3 other young women from her barn. They go through all the rounds together, another 15-20 minutes. Including a lengthy discussion about their trainer, and the millions of nuances and details or rather rules they have about show coats. Apparently there has to be some sort of exact color scheme that compliments the horse’s coat, the pad, the bonnet, the saddle flap, stirrup iron, the sock color you can’t see under the boot…I don’t know the exact rules, they lost me somewhere after a lengthy discussion of the correct color scheme for a bay horse. FYI Bay horses are like black pants, you can wear them with anything.
What is this weird Machiavellian rule that some trainers have over their customers? Aren’t they exhausted from micro managing their customers every move, down to the acceptable socks they can wear!? And on the other hand, why do customers allow their trainers to control every decision they make? They are paying this person to train their horse and to train them to ride said horse, not to help pick out their clothing. That’s my job!
The psycho analyst in mean finds this behavior fascinating, and I catch myself writing a 50 page thesis in my head about the trainer’s need for control in an uncontrollable world, and the customer’s need to be controlled. However, the small business owner in me finds this behavior completely asinine and pathetic, not to mention frustrating. Why should a trainer care what color jumper coat their customer buys as long as they show up with their horse on time at the correct arena? Shouldn’t they be more focused on making sure their rider doesn’t look like a sack of potatoes, running towards fences with absolutely no plan or correct distance for that matter? My set up is in front of Jumper 2, so I unfortunately get to witness the horrific riding some “trainers” are pumping out of their barn, show after show. Maybe since some of these trainers think they can do my job of styling better, I should start standing next to the arena, and shout some much needed advice to their customer as they are about to plow through a .90 vertical at warp speed. Too much interference? Yeah I feel the same…
Please remember, we here at LA Saddlery do not sell things, just to sell them. I want your customer to look good as they are a walking advertisement for my shop. So no need to worry that they are going to come back to the barn with a hideous show outfit. That’s not my style. After 18 years (longer than most of you have been “trainers”) I also know what’s acceptable and unacceptable in each show arena. Meaning I know what the deal breakers are, and I hate to tell you, buttons are still not one of them! So please, let me do my job, and dress your customers. I rarely disappoint.
Also it might be a good time to remind trainers not to under estimate the power of knowing how to properly dress a customer. Once I make them look fabulous, I usually form a pretty strong relationship based on trust and understanding of how difficult it is to wear white breeches when your over 40. Which means they also want my opinion on their trainer, their barn, their husbands even. Those who know how to fit white breeches properly have the power to persuade…so you might want to stay on my good side. I have Valium now, so all of your stamping and screaming at me over those buttons means nothing.
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