It was just before the holidays when a slew of young riders at my barn started showing up with glossy manicures.
These teenagers were thrilled to show off their long, fake nails. Some had cool colors like a pale teal or steel grey. Others were glittery. But nearly all of them were long and pointy.
I’m not talking about just painting natural nails with neat designs. These fake acrylic ones, with a dagger-like shape called “Coffin” or “Stiletto” became hip this year thanks to celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Katy Perry.
But are they appropriate for riding? Probably not.
The owner and trainer at my boarding barn was quick to judge them. She noticed a swift change in her students’ ability to ride.
“They can’t hold the reins!” She put it bluntly.
And it makes sense. How can you close your fingers around the reins (with or without gloves) with talons like that? How do they cinch the girth or loop the throat latch? How do they text? I had a lot of questions.
Some of those students reluctantly ditched the nails to ride, after their trainer pointed out their new handicap.
Now, I’m in no position to judge. I have nubs for finger nails. I long ago succumbed to my lifetime bad habit of chewing them off. I reluctantly got a “french manicure” on the morning of my wedding, and spent the next three days painfully removing those suckers.
I’ve known plenty of riders who were effective in the saddle with fake or manicured nails. But they were never as long nor as sharp as the ones I see Rihanna or Khloe Kardashian sporting on any given day. And those singers/whatever-they-ares have people to text for them.
And most importantly, they don’t ride.