As eventers, a lot of our show dress originates from foxhunting: the button-down wool coat, light-colored breeches, black leather boots, a velvet cap (now helmet), and stock ties. The supposed purpose of the stock tie was to serve as a bandage or tourniquet for an injured rider out in the field. Yikes! I would hate to be that guy.
Over the last 20-plus years that I’ve been competing in eventing, I’ve always resorted to the quicker and easier ratcatcher collar, standard issue in the hunter ring, because stock ties seemed completely impossible to tie correctly. I finally purchased one that was touted “the easiest stock tie yet,” but when reading the directions–piece A into slot B and piece C over A–they made no sense at all.
But yet I bought another, this one with no directions at all, just because it was pretty and on sale. They both sat in my show bag rotting away. Every time I secretly surveyed the other riders in the dressage warm-up, they were all wearing stock ties—apparently I was alone in my frustration.
After watching YouTube videos all winter on how to tie a stock tie, I finally resolved that I was going to figure it out—no excuses.
My first show this year with Jester was at the end of March. Taking a deep breath, I fished my crumpled-up stock out of my garment bag and got to work, using the car window as a mirror. Long end over short … this is it … I’m getting it! Apparently after watching all those videos a million times, some kind of muscle memory had been formed by osmosis. It was almost as if someone else’s hands were miraculously tying it.
It didn’t look perfect, and my stock pin was too dull to pin through all the layers to keep things in place, but as a first attempt, I was thrilled! At least there was a square knot instead of the double-knotted mess I usually ended up with and quickly abandoned.
And yes, I’m aware there are plenty of pre-tied stocks on the market, but I felt like this was a rite of passage of some kind, an eventing “Girl Scout badge” I needed to earn. (Men wear regular ties when competing in eventing.) It might have no application in the world outside of horses, but at least now I can check another item off my horsey bucket list.
Is there an equine task you are still striving to master, whether it’s perfect braids or standing wraps? Click “submit a comment” below and tell us about it!
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