Some may say I’ve got mad horse show skillz. Otherworldly, even.
Skills that apparently are so incredibly unique among certain subsets of my hunter/jumper world that they require, no demand, a myriad of articles, blog posts and Facebook comment accolades. And if I’m being honest, which we all know I’m prone to do, it annoys me to no end that many seemingly simple and brainless tasks are cause celebre.
I know how to clip my horses.
I am able to pull a proper mane.
I can wrap, poultice, pull a shoe, take a temperature and most importantly- call the vet because my fragile flower has a hangnail.
I know how to longe. And longe. And… longe.
I even know what my horses eat every day and make informed choices to change up their diets as necessary because we are at a show. I lack this same life skill for my self.
I am fully capable of preparing for a horse show on my own. I am the best over-packer that lives. You can bet the farm that I will bring ample chairs, clothes, dog pillows, rain gear, sunscreen and advil for everyone. And xanax. But that’s just for me, especially if I’m showing in the jumpers. *shudder*
I can navigate my way to and from the dry cleaners to ensure my hunt coat and show breeches are ready like a boss. .While there, I am super awesome at neglecting to leave that Jack Russell hair covered work suit I’ll need for the Monday morning meeting after the show. And then I will ensure that my show clothes are properly ensconced in my clean, overstuffed, monogrammed, barn colored garment bag for safe keeping.
I will never forget my lucky socks. Number string. Belt. And yes, underwear.
I will make sure that we have snacks, sometimes I’ll even get it together in time to make a crockpot of soup or lasagna, if I know the concessions won’t be open on schooling day. I am definitely able to go to the liquor store to pick up beer. #necessities
I not only can send in my own entry form before the show, along with my coggins, USEF number, and horse ID, but also fill it out in the office AND attach my very own check to pay for it. Sometimes I pray it won’t be deposited for a few days.
I am in my element once at the horse show. I learn my own course because I don’t trust you to tell me. I post myself for my classes then show up at the gate 15 rounds early. I tack up while fully dressed and get covered in green slobber from doing so.
Ask me (or don’t) and I will always be able to tell you what class they are on in multiple rings. Why there’s a hold on Ring One. And why I’m annoyed because I just know it is that same trainer who did the same thing last horse show. It’s like I’m a psychic or something… or, trainers are just predictable.
I will confidently tack up most of the horses from our barn in the proper equipment if necessary – usually because I cannot stand to see you get your show clothes dirty, and hell, what else do I have to do other than wait around to go watch. And, if you ride at my barn I probably braided your horse, so I am great at screaming vile things across the aisle while he desperately attempts to destroy my late night work. All of which has made it nearly impossible to hold a cup of coffee but miraculously I will hold the reins long enough to jump around an equitation course.
I can tell you what is in each of the equipment trunks, but that’s usually because I repacked them before we left for the show. I know if we are going to run out of hoof pack or liniment or fly spray – the answer is yes, yes we will.
I brought an extra hose. It is in the back of the Honda. Under that shavings-covered stinky dog pillow that should probably be thrown away.
I know how to adequately zip tie the 1×2’s together to frame the farm banner and then not staple gun my finger to it. Though I’ve had some pretty close calls, those things pack a punch and should probably require professional training and a license to carry.
I hang ribbons on that banner like a pro. No, really, it is a gift. And can interpret the unintelligible crackling of the announcer over the loudspeaker to know exactly what you got in each class. Which I promptly collected from the in-gates of your rings.
I have mastered the art of not missing a single one of your rounds, videoing them like a rabid stalker, and knowing your score from the first round of the classic. Sure, there have been some exceptions, but if I’ve slept after braiding all night you can bet I’ll be there to cheer for you. I’m even more fun if I haven’t.
I can yell at your pony rider. I can yell your junior – in fact, I enjoy that. Hell, I can even yell at you, the amateur, without feeling guilty. Your hands are not broken, you can pick up a hose and fill everyone’s buckets.
I find it best not to yell at the trainer.
I find macabre joy in sitting ringside with our pony kids and the novice junior riders, then annoying them to death with a series of pop quizzes – how many strides did she get down that line, why did she miss a lead change, how would you pin this class.
Or, my personal favorite – WHY HAVEN’T YOU POLISHED YOUR BOOTS YET?! They always answer this one incorrectly. Always.
I will counsel your pony rider, your junior, or you. I will listen to you melt down. Or, if I think you are being unreasonable, give you wide berth until you work through it. I suggest you do the same for me, and red wine helps me get over it more quickly, fyi.
Not only can I help pack and unpack the trailer before the show, but also repack and unpack back at the barn after we are done. And you bet your ass I complain to anyone who will listen that you didn’t – so don’t be that person!
I am a rockstar at facebooking. And tagging you in statuses chronicling your triumphs. I’m also super at liking your status about how awesome you and your horse were that weekend, even if there’s no accompanying picture. But I’d like it twice if there were a picture.
I am a part of the team. Whether you like it or not, I’m going to be one of your biggest cheerleaders. Unless you beat me in the equitation on the flat 🙂
Some might say I have a PhD in horse showing. I mean, I’ve spent more time doing this than I have doing anything else in my life. Including work. No, especially work. (Don’t tell my boss)
I do all of these things, know all of these things, get all up in everyone’s business not because I get paid or I’m a working student. I do it because I think these (and so, so much more) are all important things for me to know to be a good member of my barn’s team, to understand my wholly complicated sport, and much more importantly, be an equally contributing partner to my horse.
You know what I take away from all of this?
Joy. Friendship. A feeling of accomplishment.
Maybe some A-type control-freak satisfaction, too. Or maybe a lot of that. Yeah…
If you don’t trailer your own horse, that’s okay. I won’t think you aren’t working hard to be a good rider. At the same time, I do not expect that you put me on some pedestal because I braid to pay for my show. When it comes down to it, no amount of boot polishing is going to keep you in the tack over a 3’6” natural oxer, trust me. (I’ve tried)
So while I may dream of actually showing at indoors rather than obsessively streaming it online, I know nothing would change my behaviors.
I’d still be all up in the in-gate of the National Horse Show, annoying the gatekeeper about how many out ‘til the flat, carrying a backpack full of peppermints and extra spurs.
And then rather than having a lovely article written about how independent and helpful I am, I’d become fodder for the Chronicle Forums – and nobody wants those armchair quarterbacks judging their ride!