Guys that get sick know that they are required by The Universal Male Directive to let everyone possible know. There’s an art involved here because you’re not supposed to say it exactly. Just communicate it somehow: monster sneezes, enhanced coughing, the show moan & drama groan, strategic placement of the Nyquil bottle. And all through it you’re being very, very brave and fully expecting that you’ll get The Strong & Silent Credit for not uttering these words: “Ah habe a code.”
Well forget that. I’ve missed two lessons in a row because of my stupid “code” and I’m telling everyone. Since this goes on line, that is theoretically 7,061,427,501 people, the population of Planet Earth as of 4:46 a.m. EST.
Of course my problem is that missing two lessons in a row makes this blog a little more difficult to write. So in lieu of an actual report from Legacy Stables (I forgot what it looks like, there’s a big white thing there, right?) I submit this seasonally appropriate article, I wrote some winters ago. It deals with a very serious equestrian issue.
Deficient Riding Time Syndrome
By Bob Goddard
Everyone knows that riding horses is good for both mind and body. It’s great exercise and it gets you away from at least some of the electronic devices that have taken control of your life and soul. Riding also gives you the opportunity to connect on a meaningful level with an intelligent and sensitive creature or even to another human.
No doubt there are social scientists reading this right now and thinking: “Oh my yes, creating a positive connection with an animal releases powerful endorphtonins (or something like that) into your brain which helps lower your blood pressure, reduces your stress level and allows you to sleep better and live longer.” Some say that riding horses can be addicting.
A Serious Condition
If riding is truly a kind of healthy addiction, what happens when a riding addict is denied his or her fix? Addiction is addiction and every addiction has withdrawal symptoms. The Great Book of Horse Knowledge tells us that riding withdrawal actually results in a medical condition called Deficient Riding Time Syndrome or DRITS. The primary symptoms of this condition include irritability, anxiety, insomnia, aggression, restlessness, fatigue, hives, headaches, nausea, dizziness and a profound desire to publicly guillotine the guy who came up with the “He went to Jared” commercials.
I know DRITS is real, because I’ve seen it in my own daughters. I usually notice the first indications around early January. In Michigan, December can be iffy for riding and by the start of the New Year (and the end of the NFL regular season) the girls are getting a little testy. This is followed by periods of stony silence interrupted by sporadic name-calling and threats. By the time the playoffs are in full swing, I’m missing entire quarters just keeping the two separated. On Super Bowl Day, we all have Prozac on our pizza.
A Cyber Solution?
Like anyone going through withdrawal from anything, people with DRITS will seek ways to alleviate the symptoms. Some turn to meditation or self help books. Others turn to drugs or alcohol. And everyone turns to the Internet.
The Internet is a great thing generally, and it is especially a great thing for DRITS sufferers. In the Dark Days prior to the Great Cyber Hookup, horsepeople would come in at night after completing their evening chores and actually have to engage in non-horse activities. The horror. But now, with immediate 24/7 access to an entire universe of horse-related websites, chat rooms and bulletin boards, equine lovers can get a virtual fix anytime. It doesn’t replace actual riding, but it can take the edge off.
I’m all in favor of the Internet and like it very much for mostly the right reasons. But as any social scientist worth his Macbook can tell you, there is one major problem with all of this. By providing DRITS victims with a common virtual venue, you’re putting a whole bunch of grouchy people in one virtual place, at one virtual time. Once a critical mass of crabbiness is achieved, the result is a virtual disaster.
Consider for a moment, the Great Prairie Dog Meltdown of ’07. This Internet catastrophe occurred during some of the worst December weather ever seen across the United States. From the Plain States to the Mid-Atlantic the nation was plagued with ice storms, freezing rain and flooding. There were massive power outages, schools and businesses were closed and major interstate freeways were shut down. Worst of all, it was lousy riding weather.
The result was inevitable. Unable to ride, DRITS sufferers flocked to the Internet. In particular they flocked to the largest equine related bulletin board on the net – the one sponsored by that super-serious sportshorse publication with occasional dog articles. In normal times this board has its share of snobby put-downs and condescending comments. But in December of ’07 it all got out of hand.
It all started when someone said something unkind about some guy’s pet Prairie Dog. You know, like usual. And from there it descended into the absurd and ugly. It got so absurd and ugly that the people from the super serious sportshorse publication with occasional dog articles threatened to shut down the entire bulletin board. But in a few days, the weather got better and everyone went back outside. This is a true story.
It would be very un-social scientific of me to bring up this problem and not offer a solution. And much to my own surprise, I actually have one. It has nothing to do with the Internet or mood altering substances or self-help books. It is this: whenever the weather gives the slightest break and it is reasonably safe to ride, do it. Always be prepared for these days. Be ready with the right clothing and the right gear. Most important of all, be ready with the right attitude: you have to be absolutely willing to shift gears and drop everything and anything (except a baby) and go riding. Whatever you think you’re supposed to do that day – whether it’s work, school, housework, grocery shopping, changing your oil, just let it go and go riding. You have my permission to make it your #1 priority. Just do it. Go.