Essays of an Equestrian

Show season is here again. We’re happy. Well you might be happy. As for me I don’t have the energy to do laundry much less run the marathon which is the essence of a horse show.

Think of it this way: you put in all the hours riding your horse and riding him well. You remember that “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect” so you’ve been riding your horse in a manner to develop him, without force and using every ounce of skill and technique you can muster.

Now, what do you do for luck? Not just luck IN the show ring. Luck GETTING TO the show ring. Ever notice that no matter how well you prepare, or how experienced you are, the most inane thing could turn the show from a good show to a bad show? I‘m talking about “Murphy‘s Law“ in showing.

Let’s begin with the day before the show as well as show morning.

Good Show: You get to the barn to prepare. Beautiful trip with no traffic. Have lots of time to get the things done. Warm weather so you can safely bathe your horse. Truck already washed and gassed up. Your new diet has worked and you’re feeling supple, stretched and athletic. Dunkin Donuts coffee especially tasty this particular morning.

Bad Show: You woke up late. Can’t find your keys. Dog has “accident” on rug. Vehicle won’t start or tire looks flat. Rainy, cold day and looks like it will stay that way. Spill Dunkin Donuts coffee on way to barn on both you and your light gray velour truck seats.

Good Show: You ride your horse. He is suitably not perfect. You are happy as you’ve learned if the ride the day before the show is not so good, that the show ride will go well. It’s just always been like that so you’re confident. Bathe horse, both you and horse are very happy. Still good on time because he easily trimmed up prior to his bath.


Bad Show: Horse seems off. Ripped out part of mane or tail on unknown something. He’s cranky. You’re cranky. Loud thunder outside. You’re picking his feet when you remember that you forgot to wash and gas up truck. Decide just to gas it up on way home as it’s raining anyway. Too cold to bathe so you have no choice but to brush for an hour.

Good Show: You braid him up in twenty minutes. Horse stood like statue, braids are perfect and your fingers aren’t cramping. You put him in a nice, new high necked sheet and return him to his freshly bedded stall. He stretches and pees. Life is good.

Bad Show: It’s taking forever to braid him. He just won’t stand still. Braids end up looking like mutant growths. Fingers hurt as well as your ankle because while braiding you stepped off the upside down bucket by accident. Put new sheet on. Break nail trying to pry open new Velcro on sheet.

Good Show: Clean your equipment, pack in into neatly organized tack room in trailer. Pack hay and a bucket. Go over list in your head a few times, confident that you’ve remembered everything. And you have.

Bad Show: Equipment very dusty and you’ve forgotten your towel/sponge at home. Improvise with a dusty towel you found in your tack box. Go to get hay. Realize “string” on bale is actually “wire” this time. Takes half an hour to find something to cut the wire. You pack your stuff in truck or trailer. You double check and are happy you remembered to pack your bridle.

Good Show: You wake up ten minutes early and relax to a cup of coffee. All your things are already packed in your vehicle. You shower and slick your hair back into a neat bun. Spray hairspray and put on baseball cap. Jump into your vehicle, pausing to get Dunkin Donuts coffee.

Bad Show: You wake up half hour late and are running around trying to remember everything. Your nerves cause a lengthy trip to bathroom. You rush a shower then jump out. Can’t find hair spray nor a baseball cap. Spend another half hour looking for keys. Stop at Dunkin Donuts even though you’re so late because you really, really need that coffee or you‘ll forget your bridle.

Good Show: You get to barn and check on horse. All is perfect, not even a single shaving in his tail. He’s bright and alert and has eaten well. You hook up trailer on first shot. All lights and hookups work. Get horse from stall, put halter on as well as wraps. Load horse on trailer easily. Can now pull out as all equipment packed night before. Bridle is there. Day is sunny and 68 degrees. High temp of the day will peak at 77.

Bad Show: Still cool and rainy. Winds have picked up. You can hear distant thunder. You get to barn late and must rush around trying to get it all done like a NASCAR pit crew. You’ve broken a sweat and are filthy dirty already. So is horse. Neck on sheet has slid down so braids full of shavings and dust. Horse seems cranky and so are you. Trailer just won’t line up and you manage to dent the trucks bumper. Finally, after you’re soaking wet you’re hooked up. Trying to pull out of mud, your tires splat mud at friend who was checking your lights. She then tells you one side of the trailer lights are out. You go to put horse on trailer. Horse won’t load. Must pack bridle after loading. After twenty minutes of horse not loading find a wasps nest. Glad for first time it’s 52 degrees. Look for bug killer spray ten minutes. Finally, no more wasps or nest. Load horse in “only” fifteen minutes.

Good Show: Nice easy trip. Arrive ten minutes early. Park in a nice spot, not too far from office, bathrooms or food area. Horse comes off trailer nicely, settles in well. You go to check in with office, all paperwork runs smoothly. You return to sit by trailer with show program and cup of coffee. You have two hours to relax until you tack up.

Bad Show: Accident causes traffic. Arrive one hour late. Park in bad spot, far from office, bathroom or food. Rainy still, grass muddy. Will worry about that later. Horse comes off trailer sidewise, slips, falls to one knee. You go to check in with office and it takes time due to show secretary fighting with person in front of you. While you are waiting horse gets loose from trailer. You run out to grab him, dog nursing puppies bites you in ass. Find horse, see that lead line snapped near the clip. Bend over to grab horse by halter just as he swings his head up and clocks you square in the nose. Wipe away blood from nostril. Retie horse to trailer. Return to office, draw entry number 13.

Return to trailer, look in tack room. Realize there is no bridle.

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The good will of the horse is like the scent of a rose. Once it is gone, it is gone forever.