A Pleasure, A Niggle and A Funny Incident

The Pleasure

I had the pleasure of watching a dressage competition, not too far from here, last weekend.


In only its second year, word had obviously spread that the previous year’s organisation and welcome had been a success.


And this year, alongside FFE dressage classes (French Equestrian Federation), there were events under the aegis of the Masters du Cheval Iberique, who organise similar classes and leagues but are open only to registered Spanish and Portuguese horses.  They have slight modifications in the tests and give extra points to competitors who compete in traditional Iberian dress/tack.


Though sadly my photos didn’t come out, there were two riders in Spanish dress, one of whose sombreros blew off twice in the wind (the gusty wind spooked a few of the horses).

 A Mrs. Italian Sparkly Boots, of a “certain” age, did a very creditable freestyle to music which she and horse were pleased about, and there were a few others including a super-competent Miss Embonpoint whose horse shied and reared at one gusty moment, but recovered and went on to prove a star.

A very elegant rider on a huge KWPN mare had a little girl run right out in front of her as she was coming round the outside about to begin her reprise, which put her horse on edge, but she managed it beautifully.  (Little girl and her blasé parents were very lucky she wasn’t mincemeat.)  I spoke to the rider after and she had come over from Bordeaux and competes all over south-west France.

Not having been to many dressage shows – in person – ever – I was in horsey heaven. Wonderful horses; from the riding schools (“Poney Clubs” in France) who imported a small contingent of their best horses and young riders, to very sophisticated rider/horse combos used to competing at a regional, even national level.  There was an astonishing array of horses and riders to observe and scrutinise throughout the two days.

I went with a friend on the first day and just had to go back for more on the second …. I didn’t agree with everything I saw, but it was all a good learning experience.

I was hoping to find that there was a niche I could aim for at the lower level.   And, yes, I was inspired.  Will we enter next year? … Mmm… it’s certainly a challenge ….

The Niggle

A non- horsey subject:  do you value good service – and are you a generous tipper?

Have you ever worked in a service industry?

If you’ve ever waitressed or stood behind a counter, answered a ‘phone or welcomed visitors, you will certainly have a view on “interacting with the public” in a professional rôle and been miffed if you’ve been treated with a lack of respect.  (Though I’ve witnessed some people who work in these rôles to be the worst customers – maybe out of misguided payback?!)

I wouldn’t pretend to be an extrovert, but I’ve waitressed, air-hostessed, welcomed customers in various circumstances and it is easy to recognise people who are big enough to appreciate good (or your best effort at good) service.  They are well-mannered, polite, smiling and reasonable.  And, in the relevant circumstances, they leave an appreciative tip.

Occasionally I meet up with my girl-friends for lunch.  We refer to ourselves ironically as “the ladies who lunch /the coven/the lunch club”, because we all work hard and it’s unusual, rare even, that we have the time to meet.

In our neck of the woods, restaurant service is generally professional, but goes no further, unless you initiate a conversation … a little banter even …

If I ever get a glimmer of individuality through the professional attitude from whoever’s waiting my table, I will make it my mission to engage with them and make their day a little more interesting if I’m able, and if they’re up for it.

And, unless our meal has been appalling, if the service has been good, I’ll tip at least 10%.

If I’ve enjoyed the meal, I want to be welcomed back.

But my lunching friends are not always of the same opinion.

Have you a view on tipping?

..And A Funny Incident – Two Into One Will Go

A few nights ago, we went out to do our “last thing” check, provide the night’s haynets and skip out of the horses and, oh no, couldn’t see the Pie looking over his door.  Was he alright?  Was he prone on the floor?

Then we saw his head poking over the back gate of Pom’s box.

There is only one back door in the barn and Pom has to come in through Pie’s stable, pass into his box on the left, then, in principle, the heavy interconnecting door is bolted behind him.  Either bad Mum left the bolt undone or Pom opened it whilst scratching his behind on the door (it has happened before, but the former is more likely).

Pie, trying his luck, must have pushed through, though the door is heavy and swings shut automatically.

How long they had both been in there together I don’t know – the floor was fairly stirred up, but apart from a small bite on the Pie’s neck, there doesn’t seem to have been any worse handbagging. 

A second bolt has since been added!


May has been glorious here.   The garden has been a symphony of colour and perfume thanks to a mild winter and rainy start to the year.  Sadly my husband slipped on the stairs and broke his collarbone and one or more ribs.  Sigh.  He’s not a patient patient.

I  have finally persuaded him that we need some help in the garden and today we met a gardener proposing his services for the heavier garden jobs.  A new chapter opens.  Great news for me as I’ve been keeping up a regular schooling programme and would rather be concentrating on riding Pom, while he’s still in his prime, than teetering on a ladder tackling the huge box hedge or hauling wood… I really hope this works out well.  Cross fingers for us.


About cavaliereattitude

Englishwoman, transplanted to SW France in '86, blogging - with a large dose of humour and self-deprecation - about life with my husband and our horses, the never-ending renovation of an ancient and crumbly stone farmhouse and the attempt to carve a beautiful garden and productive pasture out of a woodland wilderness.........
This entry was posted in Customer Service, Dressage, equitation, Gratuities, Horses, Living in France, Musings, Riding, Tipping, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Pleasure, A Niggle and A Funny Incident

  1. magreenlee says:

    Where was the dressage comp? (don’t say if you are trying to preserve privacy of course) I’m just wondering how from from us it was. As for competing, I’m happy tooling around at club level now that I’ve finally started. Are you considering the Iberian working equitation classes?
    Your niggle… having waitressed myself & having had both of my daughters waitress for several years, I almost always tip. Like you, a minimum of 10%. I’ve had a couple of instances here in France where the service was rude, snooty or just plain appallingly slow and in that case I don’t tip.


  2. subodai213 says:

    Do we tip? The vast majority of Americans do. The average tip is 15 to 20% of the bill. Personally I always tip 20% because the math is easier to do 😉
    Many Americans first jobs are in some part of the food/restaurant business, serving tables or standing behind a counter asking if y’all want fries with that.
    The law says they must be paid minimum wage, but in some places, and some restaurant chains (notably App–bee’s, a name I won’t spell out for fear of being attacked by lawyers) do a little underhanded compensating.
    They count the tips as part of employees’ paycheck. The tips their employees earn is counted as part of the ‘minimum wage’. Meaning, if the server/waitress earns ten dollars in tips today, that is counted as part of her day’s pay. Meaning, you, the customer, are not only paying for your meal, but also paying the server’s wages. No it’s not legal, or ethical, but…cooking the books is what the big chains do. By the way, they don’t pay taxes on that-no, the server bears that unfair burden…too.
    If the server/employee complains, the restaurant doesn’t fire them. Oh, no, then they have to pay unemployment. No, they merely cut the kid’s hours down to virtually nothing, forcing the kid to quit…and when you quit, you DON’T get unemployment benefits.

    Not all restaurants expect tips. Fast food chains, i.e. McDonalds, etc, don’t accept tips. Basically, a sit down at a set table, ‘hello, my name is blank, I am your waitress, what would you like? style restaurant is one where you tip.
    But we tip, mostly, to tell the server/waitress/etc that we appreciate the job they did. If it’s a place you like and you keep going back, a good tipper is always remembered, and your waitress/server will remember you. They then will take extra care of you, not because they are angling for a bigger tip, but because they are telling you, thank you, I will take care of you and make sure you are happy with my service.
    And we tip because it’s a hard, dirty job. Dealing with the public is NEVER easy. When you tip, you’re not tipping the cooks, you’re tipping the server. The cooks don’t deal with the public. The server does.

    The advantage to tipping is it can serve as a feedback mechanism. If you DON’T like the job your server did…if the waitress is sullen, or you had to stand on the table and shriek in order to get her to take your order, or she screws up your order and basically doesn’t give a shit, the best way to draw her attention to that fact is to leave her a tip…of one penny. One cent.

    In the many years that I’ve gone to restaurants, I think I’ve left a penny tip perhaps five times.


  3. As you observe, “If it’s a place you like and you keep going back, a good tipper is always remembered.” And I completely agree. (Also with your protest penny tip!)
    Menus often state “service included” here, but a 10% gratuity is the norm in France and the UK if service is satisfactory. I also hate it if diners ignore servers bringing and taking away their plates – it is the height of rudeness. And stroppy customers should always bear in mind warning tales of “condiments” disgruntled waiting staff have been reputed to add to the dishes of those who are a pain in the backside 😉


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