My first serious trainer had this funny thing about ribbons. She always said if she couldn’t get a blue (first place in the USA), then she wanted pink.
I never really understood that. Don’t get me wrong, in classes that bloated to over thirty people I certainly had my fair share of pink ribbons and I was happy to receive them. It’s just I would have been a bit happier to get a blue, red, yellow, white or green.
Her thought was that the pink ribbons were the prettiest colour. So if she couldn’t have a massive wall of blue, she was happy to see a lot of pink. I never really thought of her as super girly, but that probably had more to do with our age difference than anything else. Or perhaps saying that liking pink means you have to be ultra-feminine—or worse, ultra-young—is where the issue lies.
When I rode in Texas, my own colours were red and white. I even pinned a little Canadian flag on my all-purpose pad. Even back then when I was basically American for most intents and purposes, I had a bit of showy pride at being different. I was Canadian, and in Texas that wasn’t exactly a normal thing.
Moving to Canada made my simple act of rebellion seem more like some sort of hopped up show of grandeur. People who ride under the Canadian flag here have certainly earned that right, and I haven’t.
I wasn’t going to suddenly adopt a Texas flag, because I was much happier to be in Canada than I was sad to leave Texas. Besides, riding under red white and blue seems a bit too on the nose as it is. So I started to think a lot about my life and colour.
My day job revolves around Marketing and Graphic Design. This could mean anything from designing a logo or setting up an ad campaign. But whatever I’m tasked with, colour is a big part of it. I started playing with ideas, taking my cue from fashion, art, and interior design. Not going to lie, playing with the Ogilvy website was also a big help.
I kept coming back to the same concept: Navy body, white piping, and…fuchsia edging. Hot pink, really? A part of me balked at the idea. But the more I thought about it the more sense it made.
My computer is pink. So’s my phone cover. I don’t like wearing head-to-toe pink, but I definitely like tops and accents done up in pink.
I’m not sure at what point it happened, but somewhere in my long and twisted past of concealing who I was and what I liked in favour of who I thought I should be and what I thought I should like, I embraced the pink.
I embraced the real me that reads up to four books a week and thinks The Princess Bride is the closest thing to a perfect movie that exists. Without really paying attention, I stopped worrying about the connotation of having a sparkly pink phone cover and got it because I liked it.
Star’s a bigger mare. Most non-horse people instantly say “he” when they see her, because she’s big. Doesn’t make any sense to me, but I’m a horse person. Being a basic bay with more refinement then bling, she can wear nearly any colour easily. Putting a bit of pink on her pops, while reaffirming to the layperson that she’s female.
It’s not like I ride better in pink. It’s not a favorite around the barn where our coaches go in for the traditional. But still, I find myself reaching for pink at the tack store.
Because sometimes in your life, you need a little pink. That little bit of something that reminds you that you aren’t exactly the same as everyone else. My pink isn’t about being super girlie or being (or not being) a feminist. It has so much less to do with balking the status quo then it does with embracing the parts of yourself that don’t quite fit into the mold.
Riding, like a lot of things in life, is drenched in tradition and an attempt at reaching perfection. Sometimes taking a breather away from that is needed. Sometimes you need a hack through the woods or a freeride on the buckle. Sometimes you need a little smash of colour in the midst of the rest. It doesn’t have to actually be pink. Maybe your colour is lime green or purple or orange.
Whatever your colour, wear it with pride. Life is too short, and this sport we love too hard. Embrace who you are, and discover how much more you can enjoy every single day. Hoist the colours, riders; it’s time to shine.
Christine Sharpe is a Canadian who grew up riding Hunter/Jumper in the Southern USA. Now living in Toronto, she is a thirty-something who is recently back to riding after four years off and having her first child. Christine is aiming her Thoroughbred mare, Star, toward the Trillium Jumper Circuit. She struggles daily to juggle family, work, and her equine lifestyle, with occasional success.