A Horseless Holiday - Astrid Appels Visits the Big Apple

by Father Mack

In a thinly veiled mimic of Washington Irving’s tale of the Headless Horseman (well, at least the initials are the same), one of the stalwart members of the Dressage Daily team (Astrid Appels by name) treated herself to the aforementioned Horseless Holiday.

All too well do I realize that this news goes down like an aperitif of sulfuric acid to the folks who trust these web pages for their daily dose of news about all things dressage. You have heard the stories about individuals who had to be strong-armed into attending their child’s baptism or bris, a close relative’s wedding (some, I hope mythological tales, claim their OWN wedding), and so forth when they really wanted to be on horseback. How, then, could our buddy Astrid, justify almost an entire week chilling out in the stores, museums, and clubs of Manhattan when all of us are dying for our daily “fix” of dressage news and photos?

Before the chronicle of the H.H. unravels any further, I must confess (it is a sacrament, after all) that I played a role in the story. Yes, father, I did (in the company of the ever-wonderful Ruth) escort Astrid to the Cloisters (the Medieval collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art – the venue of the photos that accompany this narrative). The closest we came to anything of an equine nature was that our four-legged teammates would have loved the mint growing so bountifully in the monks’ kitchen herb garden.

With Ruth off to a long and productive day at her place of employment, Astrid and I practically frivoled the remainder of the day away with trips to the South Street Seaport (no horses, but plenty of finny friends at the Fulton Fish Market!), views of John Roebling’s mesmerizing spider web (a.k.a.: the Brooklyn Bridge), and stopovers in two branches of New York’s justifiably famous Strand Bookstore.

In that last sentence cum paragraph I said that we “practically frivoled the remainder of the day away” advisedly. The adverb “practically” is there so that I may urge any of Dressage Daily’s keen readers who happen to know Astrid’s main advisor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel to tell her mentors that their dedicated student scoured almost the entire eighteen miles of the Strand’s bookshelves tracking down titles germane to her current research on the topic of “Intermediality and the Reciprocity of Influence in the Poetry of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath” (now there’s a mouthful guaranteed to impress all but the most jaded academician!). I have seen plenty of fanatical doctoral candidates. Ms. Appels fits the profile to a T.

“Okay, Okay!” you must be thinking to yourselves, “So where are the horses?” There ain’t none. Like all the well-rounded men, women, and children who click on their Dressage Daily or Eurodressage bookmarks every day to obtain their mandatory measure of horse-related information, Astrid (and, yes, even this humble equino-scribbler) have “real” lives apart from equestrian sport. Astrid is a daughter, a friend, a student, a drinking buddy, a journalist, a rider, and much, much more. This “Horseless Holiday” should serve as a reminder to all of us that we:

  • Get off of our beloved horses, plop down on the floor, and play with the children.
  • Yes, clean the tack as thoroughly as we ought, and then ask a couple of friends if they have time to join us for a pint of what pleases them at our favorite watering hole.
  • And, yes, leave our beloved horses to enjoy their turnout while we turn a couple of pages at our bookstore of choice. A horseless holiday? Who knows? It might catch on.

PostScript: A quick (but pointed) note to Astrid’s brother: You owe your sister a MAMMOTH hug and a kiss in return for her lugging that monstrous board game home for your enjoyment. If you don’t catch the point I am making, then I will gladly trade you my brother (Jimmy) in return for your big sister. A straight swap in which I will be the real winner.

editor's note: Our colleague Astrid Appels is the owner of eurodressage.com, and also in the advanced stages of completing her Doctoral studies in linguistics at the University of Brussels. Her research project “Intermediality and the Reciprocity of Influence in the Poetry of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath”

Father Larry David McCormick 'Father Mack' is a professor of the New Testament at Columbia University as well as a fellow equine journalist, friend, and big fan of DressageDaily.com. MP