The Grace Of Life Blog- “Show The Horses”
Horse shows are a place of camaraderie… and the most passive aggressive adults you will ever meet. This is a place where we all look like the walking dead with great acceptance. It’s a place where eating last night’s dinner (insert whatever the dinner meal was the night before) for breakfast chased by a Red Bull or diet soda is considered normal. Most people see their horses as a priority, while other people see the after-show parties as the priority. Some people are there to mind their own business and show their horses. Others seem to be there to gossip, run between groups, and share the new scuttlebutt.
This is a place of great fun and sometimes greater disappointment. See, we’re showing these horses (sometimes they’re more beastlike), and they have their own brains. They’re smart animals and usually know what we’re feeling before we realize it. Sometimes, their intelligence can get in the way when they decide to know more than their rider. That’s where the disappointment comes in, because things can get ugly… fast. What really matters is how the rider (and maybe the trainer on the fence) handle the situation. What do they do about it? How do they correct this behavior? Sometimes, yes, it needs to be fixed right there, but to what extent? Sometimes, people forget that the public is watching, and they do something far more aggressive than needed. People learn their lessons at the same time as the horses.
Everyone learns pretty quickly that the perfume of a horse show is not Chanel No 5. It’s a mix of fly spray, coat sheen spray, hoof spray, tail detangler, dirt, sweat, (maybe blood, depending on how your day has gone), manure, shavings, and some horse snot. No one smells great, and it’s disturbing when you try to cover the lovely horse show perfume with a fancy store bought one, because that mix isn’t very desirable… Even when groups go out to dinner, some might get a shower (or at least their faces washed), some might put on clean clothes, and some might just wear the barn-scented clothes.
As is the same in all sports, there are those who enjoy seeing others succeed, while, for others, it literally sets their hair on fire and makes daggers fly from their eyes. At horse shows, it usually comes down to who refuses to say good morning, who won’t fill your class, and who cuts you off on the rail. Though it can, and does, escalate further to people standing in their stalls, within earshot, while making terrible, loud comments about others. It’s quite sad, because it’s usually adults who have been in the industry the longest and aren’t happy to see a new, younger adult doing well. These aren’t the people you want have in your “horse show tribe,” but without them, the shows would be too hunky dory.
Then, there are the people from another barn who cheer for you. They check in on you and want to know if you’re coming. They pet your dog and offer you a bottle of water. They’re the people who will bend over backwards to help fill a class for those chasing points. These are the people we look forward to seeing and we stay connected with during the weeks between horse shows.
Ultimately, at horse shows, we can find our closest friends and biggest enemies. We find our own strengths and weaknesses. We learn about finding our tribe. We learn about success and defeat. We learn lessons and, at the end of the weekend, we go home to practice for the next one.