I made kind of a weird observation while watching the Upperville live feed a few weeks ago, and have continued to build on this observation since. While just about everyone patted their horses after their rounds (which made my heart happy, because #alwayspatyourpony) the particular style of patting seemed to always fall into a few certain categories. Some discreet, some aggressive, some flamboyant. So what were the main styles I noticed?
These people are the most subtle, generally just reaching slightly forward with one hand and rubbing the horse’s neck or withers discreetly with their knuckles or a few fingers. It was quick, it was quiet, it was to-the-point, and it didn’t require taking a hand off the reins. Usually because taking a hand off the reins might result in imminent death of the rider and/or some spectators.
One step up from The Rubber, the PitterPatter takes one hand off the reins and reach out for a nice soft little *patpat* or *rubrub*. Still quiet, still soft and sweet, but with a little less “I fear for my life right now” to it. These are the perfect people to use the Instagram Superzoom filter on. Much purple fuzz, many sparkles.
Along the same lines as your PitterPatter, the Crossover takes it one (crooked) step farther and reaches one hand across to pat or rub the opposite side of the neck. Sometimes they do one side first, and then the other, other times they just go straight across. This is my own particular style of patting although I can’t tell you why the heck I have to pat the left side of the neck with my right hand. There is no rhyme or reason. I think I just like being crooked.
The Monkey is the rider who leans forward (sometimes abandoning ship and dropping both reins, other times not) to give a hearty, usually two-handed rub or pat. Typically the pats are accompanied by such phrases as “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH” or “YOU’RE THE BEST BOY” and an ear-to-ear grin. Extreme cases of The Monkey can turn into The Hugger, taken just one step further with a full-on embrace of the neck.
Ok I’m gonna be sexist for a minute and say that this is most common with professional male riders who have just won some money, but you know what I’m talking about. They give one or two BIG SMACKS on the neck, usually followed by some kind of spectacular fist-pump or (my preference) a finger pointed down at the horse in credit. This one is generally more of a celebratory style, reserved for special occasions.
There are some variations on all of these of course, but… these are the main ones I’ve noticed. So what kind of patter are you?