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A Letter to Our Horse Show Families: You are Appreciated

No matter where you are or what you may need, your horse show family is always there to support and help you. And for that, they are loved and appreciated.

Any equine competitor who spends most of their weekends away from home is aware of the importance of their horse show family. Almost every summer weekend is spent with this crew. After a long week at work, you’re excited to load your trailer — and your cooler full of adult beverages — and arrive at the show grounds.  

Within a short period of time, this group of people quickly goes from horse show acquaintances to your closest buddies. Not only do they push you to be a better horsewoman or man, but also they listen to your ailments and support you in all aspects of your life. Without this group of close-knit friends, you may be bottling up your emotions on your couch while eating take-out Chinese food.

All jokes aside, this acquired family is as important as your relatives — possibly more important — and should be told so frequently. They deserve thanks for so many reasons. So, to my horse show family, here are just some of the thanks you deserve: 

Photo by Jen Ely

Thank you for being the first to make a trip to the Emergency Department with us. Many of us have found ourselves laying on the ground after being ejected from our saddle. We may have been thrown into the arena fence, knocked out cold or merely zigged when our horse zagged, but as soon as our flailing body hits the arena dirt, our horse show family is running into the arena to hold our hands or stabilize our necks — and that’s not the extent of their help. This attained family has scratched their runs for the rest of the day, donating their hard earned money in order to sit with you in the nearest Emergency Department or watch your children back at your trailer while you’re getting examined. 

Photo submitted by Marcella Gruchalak

Thank you for always coming to the rescue when we’re having truck and/or trailer issues. Any time you’ve gotten a flat tire, had a malfunctioning turbo or someone wrecked into you, your horse show family has come to the rescue. No matter where they are located in relation to your broken down rig, they pack up the family, grab some tools and head in your direction. They aren’t even bothered by the realization that it may be a two hour drive one way. Whether you’re headed to a horse show or your next work shift, you know if you’re stranded on the side of the road, your horse show family will be there to help you out. 

Photo submitted by Marcella Gruchalak

Thank you for knowing more about us than our spouses. Living away from home almost every summer weekend with this group leads to days filled with different food opinions and nights with can jam and booze. This group knows how reluctant you are to drink anything that’s not fruity, your order from the closest Wendy’s and what sauce you use for your spicy chicken nuggets. They laugh at your obsession for eating hot dogs between runs and know how much hazing you can take while competing in the arena. 

Photo by Scott Schrader

Thank you for helping us move. No matter what the circumstance — natural disaster, divorce or expanding to a bigger farm — this acquired family hooks their trucks to their trailers and show up in your driveway in vast numbers. Anyone who’s ever moved knows that good help is hard to find when moving, but no matter what dilemma you’re facing and how fast you need to move the entire farm, this group drops what they’re doing and shows up to help. And they don’t stop at helping you pack your things. If you’re having a life changing conundrum, this family offers you their house, barn and the clothes off their backs. 

Photo submitted by Marcella Gruchalak

Thank you for loving us for who we are. Throughout the time spent with your horse show family, they have watched as you cycled through inadequate equine partners, listened to your marital problems and motivated you to finish college and obtain a good job. This group knows the animosity and turmoil within your family, and the lack of resources you had during your upbringing. They’ve seen you at your best and your worst and, despite all these flaws and issues, they continue to love you and welcome you with open arms. 

Photo submitted by Marcella Gruchalak

For some of us this may very well be the closest thing we have to a loving and supportive family and sometimes we forget to tell this group of close knit friends how much they mean to us and how much we appreciate them. So the next time you see or talk to your horse show family, tell them how much they mean to you because these people are some of the greatest people you’ll ever have in your life. 

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