Horse show season is nearly upon us – well, for the unfortunate among us who choose a polar vortex over sun with a touch of humidity. And by choose I mean our pocketbooks padlocked themselves in the basement and refused to come out until Spring, lest we get some fancy idea we could actually justify a week or two in Wellington!
I’m obviously excited about the upcoming local circuit competition schedule in Wisconsin because, as I’ve stated time and again, I just love to horse show. So I sat down in my home tack room, err, at the kitchen table, and prepared a budget (read: save for house or horse show) and considered the tough choices (new Ogilvy pad or eat this week) about where could go this summer. Doing my best imitation of a responsible adult, I attempted to assign a dollar amount and priority to the opportunities to stand in the dust for the chance to come home with some 50 cent ribbons and maybe, just maybe, a coffee mug
The result? I feel poor. #middleclasshorsegirlproblems
Last show season I lived in Virginia – horse country extraordinaire. I’ve said before that I could horse show just about every day down there, year round. Any given Sunday I had no less than 2 or 3 shows within a 60 mile radius. Weather is looking a little iffy? Well this too-soon-to-be “older” amateur doesn’t have to pretend it is fun to dodge puddles on a green horse – just go next weekend! Stayed out too late drinking wine at a tapas bar with friends? That’s cool, there’s a Wednesday night show a few miles down the road for experience. Oh, that was just March 🙂
But more than the options I lacked, it was the looming expenses that deflated my 10 year old girl excitement for show season to start. For the bare bones cost of one local member Wisconsin horse show I could attend four Virginia Horse Show Association “Associate Member” hunter shows.
Let me just repeat that ratio – 1:4.
Mom and Dad don’t pay anymore. #dontgrowupkids
Here is my breakdown…
Wh-what?!?! Thankfully there is nothing wrong with clothes shopping at Target for a few more years. And this doesn’t even include things like shipping, training, hotel, braiding and gas. Well, and the ever-important “dammit, I forgot my gloves/hairnets/liniment/hunt coat guess I’m off to the tack trailer” category!
So what’s a single, one thoroughbred owning (read: expensive to maintain), cheap red wine drinking, horse show loving gal to do? I certainly can’t afford A shows, nor can I take the time away from my job that actually pays for Jorge’s insistence on an increasingly lavish lifestyle, yet a local member “B” show is rapidly approaching out of my league. And I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by the choices I need to make.
Yeah, yeah… no one ever DIED because they couldn’t afford to horse show. Justin Timberlake sang about crying me a river, and while I’m pretty sure he wasn’t referring to my lament at choosing between a pair of Manolos or hot shoeing, I know he understands my dilemma.
Back in 2010 when I wanted to show my little 14.3h paint on the local circuit, I was making less bank than I do now. I beg, borrowed and braided my way through that season. I begged my friend to lend me her truck to pull the trailer my mom let me borrow then stayed up all night braiding upwards of 8-10 horses to pay for my horse show. By morning I was delirious, managing to climb aboard my super green horse, only to cling for dear life as we navigated such natural disasters as 2’3” Astroturf boxes and flowers.
As mentioned, I’m old. I don’t want to do that this year. More importantly, Jorge will need a larger peppermint budget if I’m to subject him to the same treatment. Add that to the list.
But I do truly love to horse show. And I know there are likely hundreds of other Southeastern Wisconsinites in the same position as me – already spending every dollar they can spare on preparing to spend dollars they cannot spare to show off just how awesome their horse is in hopes of coming home with that coveted tri-color ribbon to post on facebook.
So I’m really missing Virginia right about now.
They have quite nice horse shows put on by lovely people. Many are part of various series, in fact Jorge and I ended up finishing 2nd overall in one division by attending a handful of their events. Most of the shows did not combine hunter and jumper, yet there are usually two rings with a wide variety of classes for the majority. The jumps, while not what you’d see at Devon, are nice and comparable to Wisconsin local shows. Nobody braids, but you must wear proper show attire including hunt coat and tall boots. People and horses are always turned out well and take it seriously – by this I mean there were just as many CWDs and Countys as a rated show. Jorge and I did well but it wasn’t because the competition was easy! There were fancy warm bloods and lots of amazing thoroughbreds taking us to task in every class. We won, we lost, we met great new friends and generally had a terrific time in a laid back atmosphere. It is a step above schooling but not an A show. A perfect outlet for those of us in the “middle class.”
Our most expensive and only overnight show we spent $211 on entry fees, including stall, two divisions and a warm up, and we got to show on the grounds where they hold The Capital Challenge. This was the closest we will ever get to actually competing in such prestigious company. That particular day had four rings running solid from 8a until dusk.
Before I come under heavy artillery fire from those who put on horse shows, and those trainers who take their clients, I get it – it ain’t cheap and you work really, really hard. I know intimately that you aren’t in it for the money at a local level. Please, I mean no offense, truly. But I’ve got to think there is something we all can do to provide more options for people like me, the “middle class” of horse showing.
We are smart Wisconsinites. We make awesome micro-brews, we came up with the idea to deep fry cheddar cheese, and we think it is okay to jump in Lake Michigan on New Years Day… wait… Anyway, surely we can figure out this simple question of how to provide another venue for the 9-5er’s, the “working for their horse poor”, the horse world middle class.
Virginia is on to something… how they do it, I don’t know. But I’m totally willing to be part of the solution, or at least the search for the answer, and stand up for those of us in the “middle class.” Because we need this additional option, this alternative venue to demonstrate our talents and showcase our stunning equine companions without having to choose between a horse show and eating dog food.
I hope you’re with me. At least in spirit.
I’m Jorna Taylor and I approved this message because I believe in a Wisconsin that can serve the entire equestrian community.
This message was not authorized by Jorge and if it was paid for out of his clothing budget, well, there’s gonna be hell to pay.