Hands and Feet

Many of you may remember my woes of having “working hands” a couple of months ago in my post Effortlessly Glamourous. Well on the way to the airport I thought I would share the results of my first manicure (I declined the hand massage part though) and pedicure:

I was even complimented on having healthy and attractive hands and feet … So perhaps all is not lost for us equestrians!

Effortlessly Glamourous

A combination of being on the home straight for our wedding and venturing out into town last weekend I`m finding myself in a bit of a pickle.

I`ve never been a girlie girl, or paid a lot of attention to my looks, aside from having clean clothes and not being covered in mud! In town I feel out of place against the high street catwalk, and around the yard I see so many people looking effortlessly glamourous and I just wonder how they manage it?

I mean, take a look at your hands. If they`re anything like mine they`re black under the nails. Yes, even just a little bit. Regardless of how long I spend with a nail brush I can never get all the grime out. I keep my nails short as I can`t function with long clicky fingers. Thankfully my nails are really strong because they rarely break. That`s more of an annoyance than a fashion faux-pas because broken edges snag on everything. Then of course are the actual hands. I spend ages every day washing my hands, or using the anti-bacterial wash in my car, and following this with super softening hand cream. Only by religiously following this routine are my hands presentable enough to the rest of society. I hate that feeling when you dash into the shop for some lunch and the cashier stares at your hands as you hand over your money …

So apart from keeping my nails short, I steer well clear of any manicure procedures. But then I see livery ladies with purple painted, long, false nails, all of which are immaculate. How do they keep them so perfect? On Sunday I decided to try and be more girlie and paint my nails. Within minutes I realised why I never do it. Because I can`t sit still! I never wait long enough for the nails to become solid, so I end up with smudges and finger prints across my nails. Or lumps where I`ve tried to repair the damage. Or my nails being rather two tone. Anyway, after some mockery from my fiancé about my poor painting, and the fact most of my nail beds were painted too, I decided to leave it. Perhaps next time I should challenge him to a manicure duel.

Monday morning came and by lunchtime I had realised precisely why I don`t bother to paint my nails. I was already sporting a couple of chips. So tell me, those of you who have immaculate fingertips, how do you manage it?!

Moving swiftly on to the rest of the components of looking effortlessly glamourous. Or not so in my case!

My hair is forever in a tangle; tied in a pony tail it twists into ringlets, and when plaited, stray wisps blow into my eyes. I see some ladies with loose hair … how does it not drive you up the wall? Other people just have hair that behaves itself and always looks tidy.

Then of course is the outfit. I`m sure you can now see in your mind`s eye that one livery owner who is always in clean clothes, with not a speck of mud or horse saliva to be seen. How many times this winter have I been leading in from the field and been splashed up the back by a horse, leaving lovely damp mud spots all up the back of my legs and bum? Too many for my liking! And their clothes are always co-ordinated. The only time I`ve ever coordinated my wardrobe is by pure accident and then I tend to look like a tin of paint has been thrown over me – blue jodhpurs and a blue hoodie … If I`ve got dressed in the dark there is always the risk of a blue polo shirt too …

So, if you`re one of those women who look effortlessly glamourous about the yard, please spill some of your secrets! How on earth do you manage to stay so clean and tidy, and how do you find the time to spend ensuring you look your best?

Dressing Up

It`s the time of year that we horsey people have to socialise with the rest of society, be it a works party, family gathering, hunt balls or any other party.

Last week I found myself in a similar situation. The night before the wedding, I tucked my horse up in bed in record time before racing home to sort myself out. Don`t ask why I hadn`t done it before, I was procrastinating.

Usually, jodhpurs are not acceptable attire, so I reluctantly put them back in the drawer, and climbed into the wardrobe and headed for the dress section (I am talking from a female`s point of view here; gentlemen I would hope that you were searching for you bow tie) which can usually be found just before you reach Narnia. Once said dress is found, attention turned to the rest of myself.

My evening before said occasion was spent in the bath, washing my hair. Apparently hay dust is unacceptable in such social circles. After washing my hair I could not simply plait it up or hide it away, instead I had to blow dry it (after I`d blown the dust off the hair dryer) and attempt to brush and dry my hair simultaneously … the hairdressers make it look so easy. Once I`d detangled the brush from my hair I did a dry run of straightening my hair. This got the majority of the curls out, tomorrow morning`s ironing removes any kinks which have developed during the night. Next on the list are the nails. I have already scrubbed most of the dirt out whilst in the bath, so now I have to file them into a reasonable shape, and then paint them. Keep it simple; a clear gel I bought on the weekend. I`m hoping it won`t show the typical fingerprints I usually get on my nails when I assume they are dry and they actually aren`t …
Success. Nails painted. I look at my feet … then decide that they`re beyond hope. My only option? Hide them under some thick tights. I`ll need to tights to keep my legs warm; they aren`t used to such exposure. A quick riffle through my drawers and I`m left holding up five pairs of tights. All of which are laddered or holed in some way. So I make a mental note to stop en route to the wedding to buy a pair.

That`s my spa treatment for the evening. I`m almost ready, so I got out the dress. I had been organised enough to order a new dress six weeks ago; but I had it have it altered courtesy of my Mother, due to the fact dresses are designed for those with bigger busts and smaller bums than most horse riders. I`m still not particularly comfortable in the dress. My wheelbarrow arms are on display, so I had a little practice in the mirror of making them look a bit slimmer. And found a little black jacket with long flattering sleeves to wear over the dress.
“Shoes!” I remember. I had a black pair last time I needed them, so I dug them out from under the bed and blew yet more dust off. They looked fine; still sparkled in the right places. Next I found my clutch bag. I only have one, and it needed it`s annual outing; so I filled it with my purse, money, I.D., and other essentials. Then I emptied it and tried to reduce the contents so I could zip it up… I understand a bit better why ladies bags have gotten bigger in recent years.
Now I turn my attention to my jewellery. I have lots, but not much that I wear regularly, and no actual “sets” so after rejecting my favourite green bracelet because I couldn’t find either necklace or earrings which suitably matched, I opted for a silver bangle. However; due to lack of wear it is severely tarnished. Panic stations!
A quick phone call to a chemistry guru and I am raiding the kitchen cupboards for foil, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and a glass bowl. Five minutes later hydrogen sulphide is bubbling around the silver bangle. The finished product looks pretty shiny.

Happy with my preparation, I decided to have an early night. I needed some beauty sleep!

I was up early the next morning; re-straightening my hair, applying the makeup I had panic-bought last weekend. I`m not the most confident in that department, like many fellow equestrians, so I keep it minimal and still feel like a clown.
Dutifully we bought the tights en route, and once there checked in to our hotel room, where I finally put on the dress. It didn`t look too bad, if I do say so myself. So I popped on the shoes. OUCH!! I`d forgotten, in all my preparation, to practice walking in heels. My gait was shortened to a shuffle, leaning on my other half. By the time we were at the venue my feet were in agony. By the time the ceremony was over I had pins and needles in my toes. Once we reached the wedding breakfast I kicked them off under the table. I spent the rest of the night barefoot, and got a piggyback back to the hotel so I didn`t have to wear the dreaded things again! When will they sell comfortable dress shoes?The next day we travelled home and almost immediately I put on my jodhpurs and went to see the horses; coming home thoroughly “horseified” complete with smell and straw in my hair!