With any horse show, there will be highlights and low points, but I’ve always believed that you’re your own person, and the attitude, preparation, and people you go into an experience with make all the difference. Last weekend, I made my debut as a barn mom as my daughter made hers as a first-time 13 and under competitor. Today, I’d like to share a few thoughts and mostly my thanks about the experience.
The Gold N Grand Summer 2019 show was big, hot, and the most fun I could’ve imagined! The biggest thing I learned was that all of my hours of preparation and contingency plans were well done! It was hotter than expected. We needed all the beverages we brought, and knowing what I did and didn’t need to haul to the arena for various classes definitely helped my back! By asking a lot of questions and really listening to advice, I was well prepared, though I did also learn a ton, and I have a lot of things to add upon for next time!
The biggest thing I noticed was how much other people contributed to a weekend experience I was joyfully sharing with my daughter as she enters this awesome hobby we all love. So, I’d like to call them all out and explain a bit more; because, without them, none of this could have happened.
I’ll start here because it’s a category of people who get overlooked, underappreciated, and who can truly change the vibe of the show from wonderful to toxic with their attitudes. From the early emails asking for clarity on class requirements to the back-gate attendant, I was truly in awe of the staff at this show. The Murieta Equestrian Center is a constantly evolving site that has become such a joy to show at as-is, but the people really made it into something special. Every single encounter was met with a smile, and no question too small or silly. Not only that, but this show was run smoothly and full of fun extras and a joy that makes you want to be there.
The Friends and Barn Family
Going into this show took a village, and I’m grateful for every single one of our friends in and outside of the barn who helped! From loaning tack to watching and cheering on the first timer in Walk-Trot Western Pleasure, the support and love from our friends can not be understated! By lifting each other up and rooting for each other, we bring the mood upward – no matter the actual show results! Watching friends show, rooting for your barn family, and being engaged beyond your classes makes for a much better experience as well.
Rooting From Home
Not everyone could come, and it was a delight to have such a strong cheering squad from home, texting and calling for updates, cheering us on following victories, and cheering us up when things went wrong. My phone was exploding all day long with such great support and good vibes that I couldn’t help but smile at all times.
Those who have been doing it for years and set an example of professional behavior, courteous showmanship, good horsemanship, and otherwise lead the way, are so appreciated. They lead the way and show the new kids how it should be done.
From keeping the horses happy and healthy to running from arena to arena to coach nonstop – the work of a trainer really is never done! We’re blessed to be a part of Zanetti Performance Horses, and I can’t thank Melissa enough for all she does! My daughter felt supported, confident, and prepared at all times, and the experience was far beyond our expectations because of her and the ZPH team.
The Friendly Competitors
Finally, I’d like to call out those who smile at strangers, say hello to new folks, and otherwise are welcoming to newcomers or folks they don’t especially know. It makes for an even better atmosphere and really is the cherry on top! Yes, the bottom line is that this is a competition; however, the people and attitudes around you can create such a positive environment that you’re able to focus on your own personal growth and experiences more and have a great time no matter how the judges’ card reads!
Looking back at my horse show career as a youth and young amateur, I can’t tell you which shows I won the most blue ribbons in, but I can tell you which ones were the best experiences, which I felt the best about my performances in, and which I was under prepared and did the worst. Those experiences aren’t about the win. They were about my own personal growth and hard work. I’m thrilled to start my daughter’s show career out with such a strong and similar message, and we’re excited for the next show!
May Flaum is a lifelong horse lover who resides in Northern California with her husband, three dogs, and two daughters. Elizabeth is her eldest daughter and newest member of the horse show community. She debuted aboard a special Quarter Horse gelding named Hes Just Plain Good, aka “Goober,” and showed in Showmanship, Horsemanship, and Western Pleasure. She looks forward to her next lesson and can’t wait to show again!