Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Typology of Foxhunters, Part 9: Posers

"O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!"

To A Louse
Robert Burns

As threatened…er…promised we get to the subject of Posers in this week’s posting. It’s been awhile since I included the Burns quote (above) to underscore the theme and tone of these Typologies. I thought it was time to revisit that quip, portrayed here in the original Burnsian dialect. To get the full effect, try to think of Mel Gibson in Braveheart reciting these lines. (Of course, there might be a few folks who, after reading some of these postings, have been sounding more like the Gibson of late, now known more for his incendiary rants than for his onscreen action.) I’ve also included my Caveat Lector (Reader Beware) variation on the Burns lines. For the best effect here, to most closely replicate my own sonorous tones, I’d recommend Richard Burton’s voice, preferably from his Hamlet period. Alternatively, you could go with Kermit the Frog.

I pray no power the giftie gie them

To see themselves as I do see them.

May readers sing the praise that’s due me,

But none get pissed and try to sue me.

That said, we present…


The Poser loves the idea of foxhunting a thousand times more than the act itself. She is enthralled by the glamour and pageantry of the sport, enraptured by the exquisite attire and overjoyed to see a photo of herself in top hat and shadbelly coat, elegantly turned out for Opening Meet.

As soon as the toe of her highly shined dress boot slips into the stirrup iron, it all goes to hell. She prays that the hunt is slow-paced with few, if any, jumps. The thought of galloping, especially downhill or over rough terrain, causes apoplectic panic. She will often use the excuse that her horse is tired, has a loose shoe, or is just coming back from an injury to justify retiring early. This usually occurs just as hounds are opening at the start of a blazing run.

One riding instructor described the typical Poser as a “Too Rider." When unable to execute the instructor’s commands, it is always because she worked too late the night before, had to get up too early that morning, her horse is too out of shape, the ground’s too hard (or too soft), the temperature’s too high (or too low), the air’s too moist (or too dry), she’s too sore from her most recent hunting day (even though it was a week and a half ago and she was only out for 20 minutes, having packed it in when the field picked up a canter down a gentle incline which she describes as the side of a cliff).

If she hunts once a week, averaging three hours per hunt, and goes out 20 times per season (enough to say she hunts “regularly”), that’s 60 hours in the field per year. 58 of those hours are likely to be at least uncomfortable and at times filled with shear, nerve-wracking terror. From the master’s opening command “Let’s go hunting!” to the plaintive strains of the huntsman’s horn signaling the end of the day, she just wishes it was over. Why, then, does she subject herself to this torture? Because of the other 8,700 hours in the year during which she can impress her friends, relatives, coworkers, and business clients by subtly dropping references to the fact that she rides to hounds.

To the uninformed she can paint a picture of herself as a bold, accomplished hunter. What the hell, they’ll never actually see her in the hunt field. She knows enough about the terminology and how the sport should be conducted to talk a good show.

There is a clear distinction between the Poser and the hunting lady who knows her limitations. The former suffers from the gnawing disparity between the reality of her ability compared to how she craves to be seen by her fellow hunters. She may be able to fool all of her non-hunting acquaintances, but those who ride with her know the truth. Still, though, she cannot refrain from continuously embarrassing herself by seeking the spotlight and then failing to perform. It must be a most unpleasant way to go through life and one wishes the Poser would experience an epiphany of self-realization. Unlikely, though, that such will ever occur and one can only pity the poor darling for the turmoil she must suffer.

By contrast, the humble hunting lady is happy with any moments of sport she is blessed to enjoy. She does not try to portray herself as anything more than she is: a rider of modest ability, one who does not seek out undue risk, understands the essentials of the sport, and if she is not capable of being among the half dozen mud-splattered Juice Junkies who come straggling in after a four hour hunt, she’ll still be at the tailgate to pleasantly serve them up some much-needed nourishment. She is grateful to be a part of our rarified world and at peace with herself. And for that she ain’t no Poser.

There are no male Posers. Men are too egotistical and insecure. If a man can’t do something well enough to look good at it – if only in his own self-deluded estimation – he won’t do it. That’s why so many men refuse to dance.

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