Monday before the horse show:
Barn has the nerve to be closed. Prepare and pack clothes for every occasion – heat, rain, snow, tornado… and definitely bring that adorable new seersucker sundress as you’ll likely have the perfect place to wear it. Create checklist of everything you will need, as well as show day-by-day breakdown of what you will wear for schooling, showing and post-ride. How else will you ensure your belts, saddle pads and shirts match?
Go to barn for lesson. Horse acts okay, but not terrific. Be extra grateful he’s not lame.
Get call in morning that job which pays for the horse show will require you to be gone all day Thursday. Try to stop full on anxiety attack from taking place. Head to barn for last lesson. Tell Trainer that you need her to ride horse the day before the show. Do your best to explain that if she doesn’t feed him an ample supply of treats, he may not act nice this weekend. Attempt to convince Trainer you aren’t certifiable. Trainer laughs, shakes her head and reassures you it will all be okay, crazy lady. Disaster seems imminent.
Spend next 5 hours at barn packing for show and clipping horse. Have half a bottle of red wine for dinner.
Wake up refreshed and realize that you are completely ready to go to the show! Start grappling with new-found revelation that this is actually how most amateur owners do it and be glad Trainer has your back. Start worrying about “what-if” scenarios – what if he’s lame tomorrow, what if you forget the proper bit (of the 25 you packed), what if the footing is bad…
Drink remaining half bottle of wine for dinner. Double check you’ve packed the xanax.
Friday (show departure/schooling day):
4 a.m. – Bolt upright in bed, convinced you forgot to pack an extra set of wraps. Get up to look, take dog outside. Lay back down to sleep but toss and turn for hours. Putz around house until it is a reasonable hour to leave for barn. Somehow convince self 6a is actually not reasonable and will make you seem (more) insane.
8 a.m. – Arrive at barn for an 11a departure. Hook up trailer, ensure that you’ve taken enough stuff for 3 horses. Get reluctant horse out of pasture to lunge for soundness. Phew! He’s sound. Barn mate’s horse is not. Feel sense of glee that it isn’t you this time. Feel minimally guilty for improper thoughts.
11 a.m. – Start horse loading process.
11:30 a.m. – Still trying to load, most of barn now watching. Curse at your precious baby who is trying to cow kick anyone who gets near him. Think about taking up tennis instead.
12:00 p.m. – Trainer and barn owner ready to beat horse. Definitely would if you weren’t there to “protect” him. Unload horses from big trailer who are waiting patiently for horse to load. Hand over horse to aforementioned parties.
12:03 p.m. – Horse gets on big trailer. Apologize profusely that horse is an ass and has held everyone up for an hour. Vow to self it won’t happen again but know it will. Vow to talk to horse about current state of finances and that larger trailer is not in budget. Know conversation will fall on poorly clipped deaf ears.
3:00 p.m. – Arrive at show. Teammates graciously give you corner stall so you “have enough room for all your stuff.” Feel slight moment of embarrassment but nevertheless haul three weeks worth of equipment out of trailer.
Consider cracking first beer. Realize children are schooling in same ring, think better of it and pop xanax instead.
4:00 p.m. – Get on horse, start flatting. Usually unflappable horse pretends he’s never been anywhere. Realize you have powder keg underneath you. After jumping a few, tell Trainer he needs to lunge. Trainer gets on horse.
4:15 p.m. – Lunge wild horse.
4:30 p.m. – Get back on horse, manage to get over four of nine jumps in the ring. Trainer suggests putting him away and trying again tomorrow morning. Feel heart sink a bit, consider exploring alternative sports. Like day drinking.
4:45 p.m. – Have that beer. Maybe two.
Spend next 4+ hours doing who only knows what at horse show. Realize all you’ve consumed that day is a large cup of coffee for breakfast. Head back to hotel and eat pizza in lobby with team. Consider not showering but you’re sharing a bed with barn mate and that seems unfair to her. Definitely don’t brush hair.
11:30 p.m. – Set alarm for 3:30 a.m. Apologize in advance to roommates. Count how many hours of sleep you’ll get and do mental equations of how well you’ll be able to hang on in show ring next morning. Lament you aren’t 17 anymore.
3:30 a.m. – Alarm goes off. Doesn’t matter, you weren’t sleeping anyway. Try not to disturb roommates but find they are both wide awake as well. Feel mixture of excitement and dread that it is show day and wonder if horse will have his brain back. Head to show to braid.
7:00 a.m. – Get off horse after schooling with giant smile – horse has regained composure and acted like rock star. Allow excitement of show to take over. Yell at horse for rubbing braids.
7:30 a.m. – Ask Mom to stop and get more beer on way to show. Check facebook and like multiple posts of people up at crack of dawn to engage in equestrian competition. Don’t think about fact that most non-horse friends won’t be up for hours. Yell at horse again for rubbing braids. Horse glares at you, continues.
8:00 a.m. – Show starts! Huzzah!!! Cheer on pony kids and jumpers from the team. Think about how dangerous the schooling ring is at the moment with those two levels of competitors. Get worried you won’t have time to change before your classes if you don’t do it now.
Pass harried looking Trainer. Ask if she needs anything. Consider bringing her whiskey.
11:30 a.m. – Dad arrives at horse show. While he’s an old hand at this, tell him you promise you’ll be on soon. Actually get changed to ride.
12:30 p.m. – Awesome! They are on last class before course re-set in your ring. Go back to barn to prep horse.
1:15 p.m. – Realize ring has come to absolute standstill for no apparent reason. Continue to wait. Think about having one of those beers Mom brought.
2:00 p.m. – Yay! Course is being re-set. Hurry hurry hurry!!! Get on horse and hack, wait for Trainer. Head up to in-gate. Find that they are going drag now. Seriously?!?!
Trainer ponders why you’ve been on horse for over an hour now. Wishes she hadn’t passed up that earlier whiskey.
2:30 p.m. – Post first for class. At last minute another trainer runs down and claims her student has to go RIGHT NOW. Agree, thinking you can flip flop round for round. Other person stays in the ring for all four courses.
2:45 p.m. – Wake horse up from nap, head in to the ring. Ask Mom to wake Dad up from nap. This is IT!
2:55 p.m. – Pour that beer – it’s five o’clock somewhere, and definitely for your internal clock having been up since basically Thursday at this point. Pour beer for Dad. Offer one to Mom, she smartly declines sugary sweet “refreshment”.
Lose rest of day tooling around show doing really important stuff like poking at horse, videoing and watching teammates compete, and organizing giant pile of stuff by stall. Forget to clean tack.
8:30 p.m. – Arrive at chain restaurant for dinner with teammates, still wearing sweaty breeches and smelling like gym socks. Twelve year old suggests you might want to start trying to load horse sooner than later. Touche, young lady! Realize that again you haven’t eaten anything but coffee and beer. Demolish giant dish of pasta. Try not to pass out at table.
Trainer indicates you need to school again in the morning. Protest to no avail. Start to wonder if Trainer isn’t a Soviet dictator…
11:30 p.m. – Set alarm again for 3:30 a.m. Lament a bit that it isn’t nearly as much fun this time. Pass out between snoring dogs.
7:00 a.m. – Get kicked out of your ring before having a chance to school. Grumble and bitch in general vicinity of show management. Trainer suggests heading up to pony ring to jump a few. Try your best not to get hit by out of control kids. Tell Trainer you don’t really feel like showing today.
Trainer pretends she can’t hear your whining.
8:00 a.m. – Restart process of hurry up and wait. Watch teammate kick some serious tail in the big jumper classes. Feel stupid that you are complaining about doing a few 2’6” rounds. Adjust attitude and get show clothes out of car. Explain to horse it is only a handful of classes. Realize horse’s eyes aren’t even open, and if they were, he wouldn’t care anyway unless you were providing snacks.
11:30 a.m. – Feel enormous relief that you might get to show before 1p today! Start thinking about long drive home after show. Pack as much of unused equipment in trailer as possible, chastising self for not showing more restraint. Know reprimand will go unnoticed next horse show 🙂
Consider having beer. Then consider 3 hour haul home with horse attached. Sigh. Head to ring to watch. Feel exhaustion starting to set in.
1:00 p.m. – Somehow you are already done with classes. Wait, what happened? Who got you ready? Did you warm up at all? Find you’ve lost the past 2+ hours of your life. Hear you’ve won a class, feel confusion on how that happened but happily collect your ribbon.
Trainer shakes her head at you with amused grin. You deserved worse.
Spend next few hours packing trailers and tracking down piles of your belongings. Once it is time to load, hand off horse to friend and hide in truck so he can’t see you. Horse walks right on big trailer. Call horse a jerk under breath and resolve to have that tough conversation about finances again with him. Begin long trek home.
8:00 p.m. – Arrive back at barn – hooray! Unload horses and crack open beers with teammates. Everyone pitches in to help you unpack trailer. Stand around in barn aisle with team and talk about… horses.
9:00 p.m. – Finally leave barn and head in general direction of home. Smile at passed out dog on front seat. Wish you were being driven home and napping. Realize you again haven’t eaten all day, stop at drive-through. Choke down vomit from consuming fast food at breakneck speed.
10:00 p.m. – Too tired to shower off the stink of the horse show, crawl in to bed with equally smelly dog. Consider yourself lucky you are sleeping alone. Post facebook status about your awesome weekend, making sure to thank patient Trainer for not strangling you and commend teammates for their wonderful support.
Smile as you crash toward sleep, thinking about how great the weekend really was and how much fun you had!
Monday after show:
5:00 a.m. – Consider this “sleeping in” and lay in bed while checking facebook. See pictures rolling in from horse friends of their show adventures over the weekend. Understand that this is your life, this is what you live for.
Count down the days until the next show because what’s not to love!!!