Introducing… Horse Junkies United’s Sisterhood of the Riding Socks!
Get a group of horse lovers together and you’re bound to start forming bonds, right? Which brings us to…The Sisterhood.
Ever see those horse show girls, the ones standing next to their horses’ stalls, chatting away and giggling, waiting for their trainer to tell them to start tacking up, that their class is just about ready to go?
In their tan breeches and white show shirts, they haven’t yet donned their shiny polished black tall boots, oh no…they are still wearing their dirty broken-in-just-right-with-manure-and-dirt Sperry’s. And on their legs? Boot socks…but not just any boot socks…mismatched ones, one they bought for themselves, and the other for the friend standing next to them.
It’s the equestrian version of a Best Friends necklace. You each grab a pair in coordinating colors but different patterns. Lime green and purple with polka dots pair up with a purple sock with green stripes. Pink zebra works well with purple flowers. But these are normally restricted to the younger barn crowd, you know, those who can still compete in the Pony classes.
Well, that’s when a group of HJU bloggers decided to change that trend…to show everyone that there is NO age limit on horsey fun and fashion! And that state lines were not going to stop us from joining in and having some of the fun 🙂 The socks were exchanged via good old fashioned Snail Mail (guess we still need that after all!) and the friendship and bonds we’ve made with one another along the way are priceless and timeless. So here are our stories about the Sisterhood and what it means to us. And there is always room for more sisters! Join us at firstname.lastname@example.org! ~ Stefanie
If I were asked to describe my fashion sense, I would probably go with something like “traditional.” I’m not a matchy-matchy type of girl, but I’m certainly no fashion forward, risk-tasking fashion trailblazer. Bottom line, you won’t find me mixing polka dots and plaids.
In fact, it damn near kills me when my 11 year-old daughter does. She’ll come downstairs dressed for school in colors that clash so badly there are not even on the same color wheel at the paint store. She’ll blithely mix plaids with stripes and, oh my word, then there’s the socks. Heaven forfend the socks ever match. This drives me batcrap crazy. To my way of thinking, it just looks ridiculous. I mean really, mismatched socks is just a step away from anarchy! On the bright side, not having to match socks does make laundry day a lot easier!
So anyway, when some of my HJU blogging buddies came up with the idea of forming a Sock Sisterhood, I was intrigued. One can always use a new pair of socks, right? I would force me to get to the post office (I don’t know what it is, but even though the post office is a quarter-mile from my house I can find 1000 excuses to avoid going there) but for something fun like the Sock Sisterhood, I figured I could “woman-up.”
Then I read the Facebook messages from Cheryl, Stefanie, Sarah, and Tracy more carefully. Huh?? We were only sending each other one sock??? Wait!! Then we would have ( GASP! ) mis-matched socks!!!! I would be just like my daughter! I didn’t know if I could adjust. Oh well, so be it. I ordered socks and dutifully sent just one (one!) to each sister with a little note.
The socks, along with lovely little notes from the sock sisters came trickling in through the mail. Along about that time I was going through a bunch of stuff: I’d had to leave my barn, leaving behind close friends. My best friend came to my new barn for a couple of months, but didn’t feel the new place was a fit so moved back. My riding was at a standstill, if not sliding backwards. My daughter sadly outgrew Cookie, the pony she’d been riding for 2 years, and saying goodbye and sending Cookie back home to our friends in New Hampshire was heart-breaking, to say the least. Work was difficult, my parent’s home had been wrecked by tropical storm Sandy and we had a lot to deal with from that, not to mention the holidays were in full swing and the craziness that goes along with that.
Every time I opened the mailbox and found an envelope with the return address of an HJU sock sister, my shoulders would relax and I would take a relaxed breath, often the first relaxed breath of that day. Opening the envelope to see a brightly colored scrap of nylon along with a happy little note often – bizarrely – brought tears to my eyes. How funny that a little token and kind words from someone I’d never met would be a bright spot in my day giving me strength to keep muddling through.
The first time I put my mismatched socks I giggled. My gaily, gaudily patterned toes wiggled up at me and made me smile. Seemed a shame to hide them under warm woolen socks, but no matter, I knew my happy feet were under there, along with the love and support of my Sock Sisters. Is it a coincidence that I had the best lesson I’d had in ages? Maybe, maybe not. I’m not messing with it. I wore my socks to a Bernie Traurig clinic and rode exceptionally well. Wore them to a business meeting (under a pair of dress boots) and nailed it, signing a contract on the spot.
My Sock Sister socks have become my Mojo, my talismans, and my lucky underwear all rolled in to one (you know what I mean!) I wear them when I need support, when I want to giggle, when I feel I need luck. I take pictures of my happy feet and send them to my sisters and tell them what my socks and I are up to that day, and they let me know what they are up to in theirs.
It’s funny how Horse Junkies United has created such a sense of community, and how that has evolved into the Sock Sisterhood. It amazes me that I can feel such a connection with a group of women I’ve never even met, yet when I have a bad day or something good to share, my “sistahs” are among the first people I reach out to.
Thank you, HJU, for giving me my sock sisters!
For those who have seen the 2005 film The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, you might remember that the namesake pair of traveling secondhand jeans had something of a magical quality to them. Not only did they miraculously fit all 4 girls perfectly, when worn they inspired a sense of empowerment for each girl and allowed them to maintain a close camaraderie over the vast geographical distances that separated them. I believe our riding socks and the sisterhood behind them carries a similar magical quality.
Before I became a blogger for Horse Junkies United, I’d never met nor even heard of the amazing gals who would later become my sock sisters. Through our HJU blogging, we became friends but through the simple exchange of a few colorful socks we became sisters. Though most of us have never actually met in person, we are forever connected by our Sisterhood of the Riding Socks.
When we don our mismatched socks for any equestrian endeavor from riding lessons to barn chores to weekend hacks to the show ring, we are also donning the endless support, camaraderie, inspiration and cheers of our sisters near and far. Of utmost importance though is the necessity to also share our socks with the “outside” world by sporting them in public spaces like grocery stores, malls and, my personal favorite, professional office buildings.
Such sharings should preferably occur following one of the aforementioned equestrian endeavors when the socks might be accompanied by some green slobber stains, arena dirt, hay in the hair, as many horsey aromas as possible and equestrian inspired mannerisms such as the half-halting of shopping carts and stride counting of sidewalk lines. After all, if we’re sharing with the outside world we should share the entire experience amiright?! 😉
But alas, who says riding socks are just for riding?! In January, I ran my first race of the 2013 season. Our area had just been hit by an arctic chill, it was bitter cold and gloomy out and my motivation to crawl out of bed was significantly lacking. Through the ajar closet door I spied the colorful grouping of mismatched socks draped invitingly over the hanger rod in my closet – I store them that way because they literally bring a smile to my face every time I open the closet! Suddenly it occurred to me that perhaps the spirit of the sisterhood was exactly the thing I needed to get my butt in gear. My sock sistahs were definitely coming along on my run with me! (Sorry sistahs, I know you were planning to sleep in . . . ) I picked a deliciously obnoxious set of mismatches and pulled them on over my uber stylish running tights, donned a pair of actual running socks over those and finally tied my gloriously garish charcoal and hot pink running shoes. Boy did I look a fright sight but let me tell you folks, THIS is the new power suit and I rocked that dang ice-encrusted 5k!
I have the power of the sisterhood behind me every step of the way because our sisterhood is about far more than just mismatched riding socks. It’s about friendships, fun and a binding fellowship that transcends geography and physical distance. Every time I pull on a pair of mismatched socks, it brings a smile to my face and my attitude is instantly transformed because every sock is a reminder of the new found sister support I’m privileged to have all across the country and will continue to share as the sisterhood grows. With Horse Junkies blogging from several different countries, perhaps the sisterhood may soon span the globe as well!
When I was about 10 years old I got to go to my first “real” horse show. Not a schooling show or a club show at the fairgrounds but a real horse show “hosted” not held at an equestrian club. I was so excited, I got new breeches and my shirt had been professional pressed. My Dad polished my boots and I had gotten a real made for me jacket, not my cousin’s hand me down.
As my dad and I walked the course I remember telling him how scared I was, not about riding the big girl course but because he could not be there with me, he always ran alongside of me as I schooled. He gave me all those phrases about how I was ready for this and so on. Then he stopped and pulled me aside, he gave me a little gray stone. He told me to put it in my pocket, that it was our connection. That only he and I knew it was there, even though I would not be able to touch it, I’d know he was in my pocket right there with me as I rode. 40 plus years later I still have that stone and I carry it in my pocket to every show, every job interview, every test, trial and event in my life.
My father passed away several years ago but he has been with me for every good or bad moment in my life.
The idea of sharing one of a pair of socks with a special friend is kind of like my little stone. The sock is hidden under your boot; no one but you knows it’s there. No one but you knows that someone else is riding along with you and you are riding along with them, the one you gave your sock to. You don’t have to see it or feel it. It doesn’t have to do anything but be there. But it has special powers.
On May 17th 2011 HJU hit the ground running, and a odd sisterhood was formed. We write, we talk, and we share. Several of us PM and talk on the phone; somewhere along the line the suggestion of sharing riding socks was made.
When the idea of the sock exchange came about it sounded like a bunch of fun. At first it got a little confusing who and how many socks we were supposed to be mailed to, so I just bought a bunch of the wildest riding socks I could find.
My husband came home to find a pile of socks and me stuffing only one in a card and mailing them. I was sure he’d have me put away but instead he laughed and called it “The sisterhood of the riding socks.”
I had visions of wearing them to a clinics and shows, getting asked questions or just the odd look but then I had a tragedy and I found myself calling upon the sisterhood for comfort and support.
The power of the sisterhood was amazing. What started out to be a fun little oddity suddenly became a strong support to me. Back in January my little dog became very ill. After having been up most of the night with my dog; tired and scared what the vet was going to tell us, as I dressed that morning, I saw the socks sitting on top of my dresser so I decided to pull on a pair.
One set of sisters was not enough to help me through that morning, so I pulled on a second pair over the first. It was odd how the socks really helped. Actually it was not the sock, it was knowing that the person who gave me the sock was a friend. Even though I’ve never meet her face to face, she is a real friend, a sister. That gave me comfort and strength to help me through the next few days. My dog passed away and I wore the socks for a few days.
My own sister is seven years younger than me and sadly, we don’t have a close relationship. I’ve reached out a million times to try to establish a friendship, to no avail. Funny how a bunch of wild colored nylon socks could give me the support and comfort a real family member never could.
Thanks Ladies, I can’t wait to see what these things will do for me in a show arena.
One can never have enough sisters. Come join the fun!