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Arena signs in Spanish

From: Devorah

Dear Jessica, I hope you get this and can answer these questions for me. I'm taking a course of riding lessons in Mexico as part of a vacation I've been planning for years. I took Spanish in high school and used language tapes to brush up on my conversational skills (if you can call them that, ha) before I took this trip. I had some Mexican friends sign me up for the riding course before I arrived. Well, I forgot that the whole thing would be in Spanish, and it is creating a kind of interesting situation. I didn't really FORGET forget, but I just didn't think about how different "horse talk" is from regular every day conversation. I get along okay with just normal conversation as long as it's not too fast.

I thought I would have a kind of combination "crash course" in riding and Spanish at the same time, which is kind of how it's working out, the lessons make sense because I just try to do what the other riders are doing, and they never put me first in line (ha) so I can follow the leader. It works okay but there are I guess you would call them "sayings" on boards around the arena. I keep trying to figure them out but I don't know what they mean, and I don't know if I'm guessing right. The people at the riding school speak ONLY Spanish so of course they read the signs just fine, but I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't know what they say or mean, I started out a little bit on the wrong foot because I thought I was a pretty good rider and I guess I'm not by their standards so I feel I need to "lie low" and just focus on my riding. But I'm so curious about those signs. I'm afraid they might be something to do with using spurs, since everyone here seems to ride with really big spurs. But I don't want to ask because they might be old sayings or wise words from some old Mexican riding masters? Either way, I want to know. My friends that I'm staying with can't help because these are "horse" sayings and my friends aren't horse people at all. If you could help me, please, here are the signs:

Revise la cincha. (cincha sounds like cinch, which means girth, but that can't be right, how would you revise a girth?)

Aprete la cincha. (something with the girth? I can't guess)

Tienes casco? ("tienes" means "do you have", but what is casco?)

Thank you, I know this is silly but I thought you could probably help me since you know languages.


Hi Devorah! Congratulations on the riding holiday, and what a very original way to arrange one! You're going to laugh when you find out what these things mean.

"Revise la cincha" means "check your girth".

"Aprete la cincha" means "tighten your girth".

"Tienes casco?" means "Do you have your helmet?"

So, as you can see, these aren't old sayings or quotes from the masters of equitation, but they are indeed wise words, in any language.

If you find any more mysterious words on signs, don't be shy about asking the people at the riding school. Even if all you get is more mysterious words, you'll be able to look them up after your lesson (you DO have a dictionary with you, I hope), and it's good to learn new words. Don't worry that anyone will think you're stupid or ignorant - it's very brave of you to be taking lessons in the "total language immersion" environment. Most people are quite willing to help someone who is interested - I'll bet that if you'd asked the folks at the stable, they would have been able to explain or act out the phrases for you in a way that would make sense to you. If YOU had to demonstrate "tighten the girth" to someone who didn't speak English, it would be easy as long as the person was a RIDER - someone who would instantly recognize the action for what it was. Since you are a rider, I'll bet that any other rider at the stable could SHOW you what each phrase means, even if verbal explanation isn't possible.

Next time, just ask. If you don't know how to ask, point at the sign, raise your eyebrows, look confused, and shrug. The person will probably SHOW you what the words mean. This doesn't work for everything, but in this context, it ought to work well. Signs around a riding arena are not likely to be too difficult or confusing - "tighten the girth" is a much easier concept to convey in pantomime than, say, "Do not flush the toilets while the train is in the station."


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