Play-by-Play: What a Horse Show Looks Like to the Uninitiated

A rider’s weekend looks a little different than the average person’s.  Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

[Top image: Wikimedia Commons/Countercanter/ CC]

Rider commentary in regular type, “civilian” commentary in bold.

4:30 a.m.–Drive to the barn. A late start today.

5:00 a.m.–Trainer is already bringing horses in for breakfast. I grab my stuff (carefully organized the night before), throw it in the trailer, and head over to help.

5:12 a.m. Cappy, you know that’s not your stall.

5:30 a.m.–Horses are fed, hayed and watered. Time to take a breath and enjoy the happy munching sounds.


Flickr/Suzanne Moore/Creative Commons License

5:41 a.m.–Bathing, grooming and braiding extravaganza.

6:14 a.m.–Dang it, why is there always that one braid that just doesn’t look right?

6:30 a.m.–Ok, horses ready, trailer packed? Let’s roll.

7:15 a.m.–Let’s try this again. ON the trailer.

7:37 a.m. — Ok, NOW we’re on the road.

8:05 a.m.–Why would you swerve to cut off a horse trailer? WHY?!?

8:15 a.m.–Arrive at showgrounds and park the trailer. Okay, game plan. You be at the ready to catch the first horse to back off the trailer, I’ll be backup.

8:16 a.m.–Phew, that was close. Hey, would you mind running to get our numbers?

8:25 a.m.–Time to tack up and book it over to the warmup ring!

8:24 a.m.–Mayhem.



8:31 a.m.–Well, at least now we know that the horse isn’t a kicker.

8:55 a.m.–Warmup ring is about to close…time to file out and watch the adorable lead-line ponies.

9:00 a.m–The show begins. Presumably. I hit the snooze button. It’s Sunday!

9:07 a.m.–Can’t. Take. The. CUTENESS!!!

[Wikimedia Commons/Roger Gilbertson/CC]

9:10 a.m.–All right, back to the trailer to hurry up and wait.

10:15 a.m.–No, don’t rub your braids on your haynet!!

10:17 a.m.–I guess I should roll out of bed.

10:30 a.m.–Let’s watch some under-saddle classes while we wait.

11:04 a.m.–On deck!


[Clean Sweep Farm]

11:05 a.m.–Will someone pull that bit of grass out of my horse’s mouth?

11:10 a.m.–All right, just remember NOT to get too close to that mom taking pictures with flash.

11:14 a.m.–Please, please just pick up the right lead on the long side.

11:17 a.m.–We placed! Though I think we might have done better if we weren’t trying to avoid that lady who couldn’t steer her horse to save her life…

11:30 a.m.–Hmm, better make an appearance at my girlfriend’s show…an hour away! What?! Grumble grumble.

11:20 a.m.–My horse is happily munching on his hay net…and now I’m STARVING. Why did I not pack a lunch? Better hang around the lunch tent and watch the last couple of classes before the break…

11:30 a.m.–I am choosing not to think about what kind of mystery meat this hot dog is made out of, because it is quite possibly the best meal I’ve had in my entire life.

11:40 a.m.–Loose horse!

12:00 p.m.–Course walk…outside vertical line to the diagonal…to the broken line….or was it the other outside line? Hopefully we don’t go first.

12:30 p.m.–Finally here…not sure if my sedan will make it out of this muddy grass lot, though.

12:35 p.m.–My fan club has arrived! Just in time to help me with some last-minute grooming and fly spraying.

12:36 p.m.–I’ve entered an alternate reality where somehow all of my girlfriend’s strange habits are normal. Horses look cleaner than their owners. Small children are leading around horses as if they were giant dogs. Just smile and nod, smile and nod.

12:40 p.m.–Do I want a pony ride to the arena? Are you insane? I’ve heard about your trips to the E.R.

12:45 p.m.–She’s jumping around…the horse is pooping and running at the same time…I didn’t even know that was possible. First place in my book!

12:47 p.m.–It was the outside line, not the broken line. Oops. All right, we got this…second jumping class of the division.

12:55 p.m.–Knocked a rail, but at least it was on the right jump. Oh well…better luck next time.

1:15 p.m.–So…an eight-hour day for a 5-minute competition?

Yep, that’s about right.

Go Riding!

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