Jorge and I have two new best friends – Leslie and Smacks. Leslie is a lovely late 30-something small animal vet and Smacks is her 7 year old OTTB rescue. We met them at the local show we randomly decided to attend this past Sunday. Well, I decided and Jorge was kind enough to eventually oblige and get on the trailer. Eventually.
While waiting for the schooling break, Smacks sidled up next to Jorge for a quick chat. That chat developed into a friendship. While the ponies stood taking in the scenery, Leslie and I discussed everything from our shared love of young quirky bay Thoroughbreds to giving mares Depro-Provera shots to questioning why more single men don’t attend horse shows. This latter conversation most likely has no good answer, but we think we are the perfect mates – we are financially independent, have our own interests so our partners can explore their hobbies guilt free and we aren’t afraid to smell like a barn and kick some 1200 pound ass… maybe its that last one that leads to the problem.
Anyway, I cheered them on as they competed in their very first hunter show and they awarded me the honor of “best horse that schooled”. We laughed, we lamented, we gushed about our horses. And basically, we became best horse show friends.
You see, I found myself in the most interesting of situations this summer. I was living in the heart of horse country with shows galore! When I say I could horse show every week of every month year round, I mean I could go to a mini-show on a Wednesday night (which we did), a jumper show on a Saturday (which we didn’t do), and a hunter show on a Sunday. Every. Single. Week. It really was Jorna horse nirvana, or so I thought.
But I had no one to share it with. Which I though would be a real bummer.
I realized as I hauled to the very first solo show of my entire 33+ year riding career that I had a BIG problem – who would hold him when I needed to pee?!?! But more importantly, I had no one back at the trailer to “hurry up and wait” with, I had no one to talk about how the course rides, I had no one to cheer for or act as a one-woman paparazzi. And that realization hit me like a ton of bricks.
Luckily I was equipped with a skill I never knew would come in so handy. A skill I didn’t understand I had learned until a few years ago. A skill that my mom taught me, as she holds a Ph.D. in this particular field.
I know how to make best friends wherever I go!
When I was younger I wouldn’t have imagined trying to bond with “the competition” – I was there to kick some fake tail and take show names. However these days I am so grateful to be back in the show ring on a nice horse who tolerates my neuroses that it has forced me to step back and enjoy the scenery. Which includes enjoying the other women who have my passion for horses.
The older I get the more I am willingly sharing my experiences with my horse with anyone who will listen. Okay, okay – maaaaybe sometimes I’m forcing unsuspecting souls to endure another monologue regarding Jorge’s latest trailering excursion 🙂 But all these other 35+ women just want the same. Someone to listen. Someone who understands without needing an explanation. Someone who won’t judge them for spending thousands of dollars to potentially come home with a cherished 50 cent coffee cup to display proudly on the mantel. Someone just like me.
We stand by the in-gate and inevitably Jorge beckons another pair over to us. Once pleasantries have been exchanged, it is off to the races! Next thing I know I’m taking their picture or hoping they win (or at least don’t fall off) in their class. And they do the same for me. It lends itself to this amazing sense of community I’ve found at the barn before but never at a show in quite this way.
At the end of the day I go home feeling good not only about our performance but also that I had a chance to get to know another strong, smart and passionate woman who was also happy to be sharing the day with her equine partner.
Because that is really what it is all about. Not the ribbons, not the etched wine glasses or the embroidered coolers. But rather the unexpected special moments and people who enrich our lives, for however brief a time they may pass through them.
So now I have a bunch of new best friends. Including the mom who watched Jorge at that first solo show when I had to use the bathroom. All the while her daughter barked orders at her – “find my spurs, don’t forget the video camera, c’mon MOM!”. Including a show secretary who pretended it was adorable when Jorge grabbed a clipboard off the table and flung show bills all over the ground but then thanked me profusely for attending the show. And including Leslie and Smacks, who were just excited to be at their first hunter show and starting their career together.
While I am looking forward to having friends to horse show with when we move back to Wisconsin in a few weeks, I am also committed to making more best friends everywhere we go.
But at least I won’t have to worry about hearing the dreaded, “loose horse!” when I’ve had too much coffee!