By: Anna Blake
– I’m going to be blunt about sports bras- not trying to offend anyone, (or exclude either of my male readers.) If you work with horses, or dogs for that matter, you should probably be wearing one. The good news is that they have improved!
Back in the dark ages women were not expected to do anything un-ladylike enough to worry their underwear. Still, they were laced up tight, and elastic hadn’t been invented yet, so I am guessing they were shallow breathers. Early feminists threw away their corsets for a more full lung approach to the world, but I’m not sure how many of them were riders.
Some of us do ride and we can become distracted by a certain contrary wave motion happening in our front torsos. It’s hard to focus on rhythm, and seeking that horse/rider oneness, while some part of your anatomy is jumping up and down, and name-calling in a heckling sort of way.
It was always a challenge, but once I came to dressage, home of the sitting trot, I clearly needed a better solution. Department stores were useless, so I scoured tack catalogs, took my best guess, and placed the order.
That sports bra arrived with not one bit of elastic anywhere. I mounted up and went for a trot. The good news is that there was a graveyard-like stillness on my front torso. The bad news is that nothing else moved either, especially my lungs. Its truss effect also managed to round my shoulders, so now I was riding hunched and clamped and flattened and deflated. But at least the bra was expensive. I went back to buying a size smaller and layering.
That was then, this is now. When I was preparing to start riding my young mare I thought I might buy her a starting present, but I got myself one instead.
I had been getting catalogs from Title Nine and there were pages and pages of sport bras, labeled in ways that were more amusing than offensive. Strength of support is categorized by a barbell symbol. Three barbells should be good for riding. And there is a local store. (Unsolicited opinion, Title Nine does not sponsor me.)
Ever had a ‘fitting’ like this? I am not the sort to volunteer, but someone had to know more than I did. I left my ego at the door and when the clerk said to throw my hands up over my head, I did it with abandon. Not too mono-bosom, not too elastic- I could breathe and move my shoulders. They are less expensive then tack catalog options and returnable forever.
I remember when I finally got a new horse trailer. I left the old trailer with the dealer and flew down the road, checking the rear view in happy disbelief. Trailer technology had really improved in 34 years. My old trailer was like dragging a box of rocks.
I guess this new sport bra experience was kind of like that. Two months later, I am on the brink of zealous. So nice to focus on my horse’s movement, stay cool and breathe, simultaneously!
At the risk of too much information, (but why stop now?), I come from a long line of German women who use bras like pockets. It was common to see women pull hankies, cash, keys- you name it- out of their underwear. It’s a good tradition. Frequently I ride alone and I like to keep my phone handy for safety. These new age sports bras can pack along a smart phone. At the trot. Impressive, isn’t it?
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.