This past weekend I tagged along with my barn to a local schooling show, where we brought 11- yes, you read that right, 11- horses at varying levels. I considered bringing Frankie for the experience but (1) this was a hunter show and I’m trying to get him to be LESS hunter-y, (2) the highest height offered was 3′ and I’d rather build experience at 3’3″ or higher, and (3) um you heard how good he was at Loudoun, right? He’s already figured out his job, we don’t need to put miles on him. Wait also (4) I have no money and am already signed up for a week long rated later in the month hahahahahahahaa cue the nervous laughter.
But because I am a sucker for torture, I showed up at the barn voluntarily at 6am to help the gang out. And despite my profound exhaustion and deepening farmer’s tan, I’m so glad I went!
*side-note: I vote we rename “farmer’s tan” to “ombre arms.” Sounds so much more trendy and cool, right?!
It was a bit of organized chaos getting everyone there- we had a couple of adults who have been through this process before and could be trusted to be in the right place at the right time with the right stuff, a couple of adults who are relatively new to showing and needed more guidance on what to do, and a couple of kids who needed even more guidance.
I got put in charge of the kiddos and OMG I LOVED IT. I’ve mentioned before that I spent a couple summers working at a horsey summer camp and those were the best summers of my life, but let me reiterate: I LOVE little kiddos. Add in big bows and cute ponies, and I’m basically in heaven. So when Trainer asked if I could supervise their warmup while she supervised the people who would be jumping, I let out this weird squealing happy noise and went to collect my pony parade.
First, let me give you a little biography on the pony: Figgy is a 32yo former eventer, then hunter pony, now lesson pony who is literally the best pony in the universe. That wasn’t a typo. He is 32 and still popping over crossrails. He’s probably in better shape than Frankie. And is definitely fancier. He is going to outlive all of us.
We had two little girls sharing him for the show- one to do the walk-trot division, and the other to do the pre-short stirrup division. The warmup for both of them consisted of practicing biiiiig circles and using our corners, remembering to check our diagonals, steering around jumps and other horses, trotting in our two-point, and all sorts of fun little exercises. Despite some horse-show-jitters they were both wonderful listeners!
My favorite moment: when one little girl was about to hop on for her class, her momma asked her what the most important thing to remember was.
And what else?
That, people, is how you horse-show-parent. Not one mention of ribbons or winning. And when she got a ribbon in her walk-trot class, that beaming smile could’ve lit up the whole show grounds. Her mom and dad were so thrilled and told her how happy they were that she was so focused, that she corrected her diagonal so quickly, that she sat up so tall and kept her heels down. They praised her hard work, not the ribbon. It was fantastic to see that little family having so much fun together- I could write a whole post just on good sportsmanship like that.
The rest of my day was spent grabbing water for people and horses, untacking and loading horses, taking videos of our sale horse going around (if anyone is looking for a fancy chestnut hunter with tons of chrome, we have a gorgeous one!), and whatever other tasks needed doing.
The learning continued when we got back to the barn- Trainer taught me how to unhitch a trailer. I really really appreciated this; she probably just wanted to be done with the day and go home, but she took the time to patiently walk me through a new skill.
I just gotta say how grateful I am to have trainers who are patient and present for all of their riders, fantastic kids who work hard and learn quickly, a community of ammies that support each other, and horses that are healthy and happy to do their jobs. Even our baby OTTB we have for the RRP got great ribbons in the pleasure division!
A little exhaustion and weird tan lines are a small price to pay for having so much fun with such awesome people and ponies.
Do you like to tag along to shows where you’re not riding?