I’m not sure how you write about visiting a point-to-point horse race in Chester County, PA without making everyone involved sound like a pretentious jerk. Sure, there are a lot of toffs at the point-to-point, but the toffs there are of the hardy, open-air variety. For example: Kate’s dad belongs to a five-member lunch club called “the Horse”, which was formed a hundred fifty years ago or so for the capture of horse thieves. Five letters in “Horse”, five members for the last fifteen decades. See? There’s like, five directions that I could go with this, each one of which would make Kate’s dad sound like an asshole. Let’s be clear about this: Kate’s dad is not an asshole. Kate’s dad is a paragon, an exemplar, a pinnacle of mellowness and unpretentiousness, and there he is parked at the finish line of the race with Kate’s mom, her 1962 Austin-Healey, and a picnic basket, talking to his Horse friend who is wearing a needlepoint belt his wife made him with Ducati and BMW motorcycles on it. And neither of them are lawyers. Fit that in your Prizm cluster.
So I guess that you’ll have to just take my word for it that the Brandywine Valley Association‘s Point-to-Point race is not crammed with jerks. I mean, sure, there are plenty of jerks there, all right: there are late-model Land Rovers with insufferable little running-fox hood ornaments, but there are also plenty of standard issue four-wheel-drive station wagons with eccentric hood ornaments (a fairy riding a snail…?) that don’t automatically trigger the gag reflex. And there are also plenty of fox-hunting grandmothers who think nothing of scrambling up on top of the Woody to get a better look at the action.
Of course, this race marshall, with his Willys jeep, paddock boots, and ascot, is in a category by himself, and I devoted plenty of time five years ago discussing my enviousness of his finely-tuned schtick.
There were two new things this year. Well, three, if you count the weather: it was sunny and glorious for the first time in anyone’s memory. Second new thing was having a toddler there, which was wonderful: Lydia enjoyed stomping around in the dry winter grass and petting the rabbits in the kid’s tent, and Kate demonstrated the use of an Austin-Healey as a simultaneous playpen and yarn caddy, which I hope does not make me sound like an asshole when I tell you how that makes my heart thump savagely in my chest.
The third new thing is that I saw a bad fall for the first time; a horse tried to refuse the last jump and run out, but caught the chute and tumbled sideways through the air and crashed to the ground skidding on the grass in a way that was (bizarrely) reminiscent of the scene from Aliens where the extraction ship crashes to the ground and bounces towards the screen, causing Bill Paxson to run for his life. This happened about ten feet in front of me, and let me tell you, horses are big, and they move fast, and it was frightening.
Fortunately, both horse and rider were fine, and we wore Lydia out so much that she went to bed an hour early (for her) because of daylight savings, and we’re making plans to paint the house.
In a future blog post: Chester County’s favorite pastime when it does decide to go pretentious: Wyeth Worship.