Quadrille (which means 'equestrian macramé' in Latin) is
when a mounted team (mounted on horses, not stuffed and mounted on the wall -- at
least, not yet) perform intricate and beautiful interfacing patterns, like a military
I tried to imagine myself and my pals weaving intricate
patterns-a-horseback, floating with accuracy and grace to the strains of a Chopin
waltz....actually, what I envisioned was six hefty amateur women straining to bounce in
unison (and, incidentally, keep their horses from stopping to graze), punctuated by
frantic hand signals learned eons ago in bicycle-traffic school.
It gets better:
our horses bear names which are likely to suggest a sport you'd watch from the
Green Section, Row Z, Seat 2116 (with a hot dog in one hand, a beer in the other, and a
visor that says, 'Oh, well, hockey pucks have hit me upside the head before' on your
head): Gerkin, Gomer, Bartles, Bubba, Melon and Stinky.
And, for some
obscure reason, the music my mind conjures up is "Rubber Ducky, You're the One"
(Bert and Ernie's classic Sesame Street rendition, please), or the ever-popular
"Dancing On The Ceiling."
Sometimes in this
image, the Gerkin is laughing at me and saying, 'But you usually ask me not to
run into Gomer.'
Note: If, in your
weekly lesson, you have trouble remembering what fence to jump next (and you're jumping
the 'in' of the in-and-out at the time), you might find memorizing multiple quadrille
patterns a bit tough right now.
Do's and Don'ts
for all you new quadrillettes:
Do try to
leave the ring on the exactly same horse you entered on.
Don't ride a
horse who requires a twenty-nine foot perimeter of personal space to maintain his
emotional stability or to refrain from 'attack mode.'
a major pile-up occurs, instruct all riders to spring lightly to their feet and pose like
gymnasts finishing their routines. (Hey, it might fool the crowd.)
to perform the Famous Flying Flambini Seven-Pronged Inverted Star until your group can
enter the arena in single file without requiring first aid.
twelve mechanical toy horses. Note that their legs swivel 360 degrees, their heads
pop off without lasting damage, and their riders are safely glued to the saddles.
Wind them up and send them out along your planned quadrille pattern. If three
or more of them sustain permanent injury, delete that pattern from your
performance....before someone (whose legs don't pop off and on so easily) gets hurt.
saying, 'Excuse me,' after your fifth or sixth collision. It's polite, but it's way
too late now.
to finish the quadrille with the same number of horses and riders you started with.
Since this rule may be construed as unrealistic for novice teams, try to keep the
attrition rate down to twenty percent.
blame every collision on the other rider by loudly exclaiming, 'You're supposed
to be over there!' Save that for the Post-Mortem and Scapegoat Extravaganza
Buffet after the performance.
the viewpoints of your spectators. The crowd will appreciate a good broadside view
of movements such as extended trots, cascades, mongo-bumper-car-crashes, and the
do-si-do-allemande lefts. The head-on and rear-going views particularly compliment
sidepasses, runaways, and the ever-popular hot-dog-vendor-snatch-and-runs.
with two or three experienced grade-school crossing guards placed at strategic
places in the arena. They are there to direct you and your horses through the
maneuvers. Do give them crash helmets and tell them that, if all else fails, they
are to save themselves.
ice skating coaches or Air Force fighter pilot trainers to choreograph your quadrille;
your health insurance requests that you do not work Flying Camels, Death Spirals or The
Immelman into your quadrille until Gigolo works them into his Grand Prix Freestyle.
And lives to tell about it.
some subtle hand signals to help your group communicate. You'll want signals for:
Over And Pretend That We Were Just Warming Up This Time.
Run Me Over
One More Time And You Are Dead Meat. (Several common signals could convey this; Each
rider may indulge her personal flair.)
How Long Has
My Horse Hated Your Horse? (Probably since you started riding quadrille.)
Were We Doing, Anyway?
Where I'm Supposed To Be And I'll Try To Be There ... In A Minute.
Slow Down And
Then Speed Up!
Don't Run Me
Down!--I Have a Husband And Children At Home!
Has Anybody Seen
Alicia Since the Centerline Cascade?
your hand signals clear and concise; if the gesture for 'Cavaletti' looks too much like
the one for 'Cava-telli,' the third rider is bound to begin his 'Linguini' too
soon and your 'Tortellini' is ruined for the entire group.
If a pattern gets
hopelessly knotted, abandon it and signal the announcer to intone, "Our equestrians
have finished The Maelstrom, and now present The Braided Danish." And place
'plants' in the crowd...that is, people whom you have paid to say, "Wow, that exotic
new maneuver worked perfectly! Who knew they could get those horses stacked
up like that?"
Tell the guy who
has no horse but offers to bring his souped-up mechanical bull that he'll just have to
form a drill team with his own kind.
One last note:
When you print fliers for your first public quadrille performance, you can hedge
your bets and draw a bigger crowd at the same time.....Call your performance the Harold's
Riding School Quadrille and Demolition Derby. ©