From time to time, when I was growing up, my mother would relate an anecdote about something that happened on the day I was born.  My father had brought a beautiful bouquet to my mother’s room in the hospital, and when one of the nurses saw it, she exclaimed, “Mrs. Grumman, those flowers are so beautiful, they almost look artificial!”

Just like fake tails.  Which for show hunters are now de rigeurBring me my smelling salts, please…and take me back to a time when there was taste.

One of our most accomplished hunter trainers has been quoted as saying,  “When a horse walks in and doesn’t have the right tack on, is wearing a saddle pad that’s inappropriate, doesn’t have a fake tail, is not beautifully braided, or isn’t wearing well-oiled tack, it doesn’t look well turned-out.”

Hey, wait a minute, I say.  Let’s talk about beautifully braided.  What happened to a mud knot?  It used to be that, years ago, or maybe eons ago to the juniors, horses without much of a tail would come into the hunter ring in a mud knot, or as they refer to it across the ocean, a mud tail.  In my book, that’s part of the “beautifully braided” standards you refer to, and which we aspire to, in the hunters.  Or it should be.  It once was, not all that long ago.

Dear readers: I searched for a picture of a traditional mud knot that I could share with you, but I don’t have one.  I can tell you where to find one, though, along with directions on how to make it.  It’s a beauty, and it’s on page 206 of Practical Horseman’s Book of Horsekeeping edited by M.A. Stoneridge, with a foreword by (her brother) William C. Steinkraus.  If you click on the link I’ve provided, you can see that Amazon currently has 48 copies starting at $0.01. Shipping is less than $4.  So it’s worth picking up a copy if you don’t already own one.  It’s full of gems from a time long ago — 1971.

A time when there was taste, at least in the hunter ring.  A friend of mine used to say there wasn’t good taste or bad taste.  You either had taste or you didn’t.

And what taste is there in a fake tail?  I hope it goes the way of those helmets popularized by Jenny Oz.

I kind of feel about fake tails the way I do about the helmet pictured above, vanity breast implants, cubic zirconia rings, Las Vegas, the hair club for men, and The Real Drag Queens of Whatever Unfortunate City They Live In.

Fake tails belong in the trash…because, well, they’re trashy.   You can dump them in on top of that Twinkle Toes glitter hoof polish.  This isn’t My Little Pony, people.

What’s next, gluteal implants for jumpers? Bleach for the breed show?  It’s all just kind of creepy, like those beauty pageants on Toddlers and Tiaras.

But I’m not going to give up hope.  The hunter derby has come back.  Let’s bring back the mud knot and forego the fake tail.