Horse show friends are the best friends, and here’s why.
Horse show weekends are the best, aren’t they? You get to spend time with your horse, you eat fried food that tastes so good (but is so bad for you), you win some ribbons or a check, you come away with a long list of things you need to work on between now and the next show, and you get to spend time with your horse show friends.
However, horse show weekends also are the worst. Your horse acts like an @$$, you get shin splints from running back and forth between the arena and your stall/trailer (or is it just me?), the fried food makes you feel like your GI tract is auditioning for Cirque du Soleil, you pay a ton of money in entry fees, and you come away with a long list of things to work on between now and the next show. Fortunately, your friends are there to pick you up at the end of the day.
No matter how the show goes for you, the friends you have at horse shows are some of the best friends. Here are 7 reasons why:
1. They keep you looking your best. Whether you’re helping each other zip up or buckle your chaps/chinks, bobby pinning hats to heads, or rolling a tight horsemanship buns, your horse show friends are the ones who help keep you looking show ready – and you do the same for them. No one else will let you know that your shirt is untucked, that you’ve got boot polish (or something else) on your breeches, or that your helmet is crooked. When a piece of apparel is malfunctioning, your friends are there to fix it, adjust it, or let you borrow something of theirs. Without these friends, how would we even make it into the competition ring?
2. No one else will help you ride your course … during your actual ride. Horse show friends are great for helping you remember where you need to go and what you need to do during your ride. Whether they’re yelling out where to go next, “push him, push him” as you come around a barrel, “let her go,” as you are going for a run-down, “keep your hands down,” “breath,” or any number of things to help you push yourself and your horse, your horse show friends are the ones who keep you on your toes and encourage you to do better. Even if you’re competing against one another, they still want you to do well and support you every way they know how.
3. If you have to lose to someone, it might as well be to your friends. Most of us show because we’re competitive. Even if we say we’re just there to have fun, we like to win. Whether it’s because we just like winning or because we love being challenged and growing with our horses, winning a class feels good. However, no one wins all the time. If there’s any one you don’t mind losing to, it’s your friends. You can celebrate with them and genuinely be happy for them. And there’s nothing like sharing a win photo or a victory lap with them at the end of the day.
4. No one else will endure the replays. Horse show friends are the only ones who truly get it when it comes to watching replays of your rides, analyzing them, reanalyzing them, and then asking why your face looks like that. They willingly watch that one part of the ride and discuss whether your hands were too high, your seat was good, or if your horse was just being a weirdo. Even though they may not want to watch the video of the ride for the tenth time (after witnessing it in person), they will happily oblige, knowing that you’ll return the favor.
5. They don’t judge you for … well, a lot of things. You just finished grooming your horse or mucking its stall and now you’re eating a sandwich. So what? You really, really needed to pee, but the bathrooms were really far away or really gross, so you used your horse’s stall or the trailer. Oh well. You had a rough ride around the pen that made it look like you’d never been on a horse before. Your friends don’t assume you can’t ride/know nothing about horses. Instead, they accept the ride for what it was – a momentary lapse in coordination, riding ability, and horsemanship – and support you by telling you what went well and letting you know you’ll do better next time. Once they’ve talked you off the edge, they’ll help you laugh about it later.
6. No one else wants to hear stories of past horse shows. Whether you’re talking about rides, the things that happened in between rides, or the shenanigans that occurred in the evenings of a show weekend, no one else wants to hear the play-by-play from past shows. No one else thinks it’s funny, and when you try to tell stories to non-horse friends, the attempts inevitably end with, “I guess you had to be there.”
7. Even your horses are horse show friends. You see your horse show friends so much that even your horses have become friends. You may have the mareish of mares, but somehow she still manages to put up with your friend’s gelding. They’ve never been in the same pasture together, but they’ve managed to develop some herd-bound tendencies with one another. This may not always be a good thing, but at least you can stand together and chat while waiting your turn to go in the pen.