You know how sometimes you can’t remember how to spell the word “the” or you say the word “fork” out loud and feel nearly certain it’s not an actual word?
That’s how I feel about the sport I love sometimes. Is competing in the hunter/jumpers for real? Or did I somehow make up the sh*t we do for this sport.
Do we really get up at four in the morning—often on the weekends—to go to a horse show when the whole sane rest of the world is asleep? Are we really okay being so tired that we resort to napping on hard wooden boxes?
Do we really put a hundred meticulously tight tiny braids in our horses manes only to take them out that afternoon and put them in again the next morning? And we do this week after week?
Do we really spend years of our lives getting an animal that generally prefers to be dirty as clean and shiny as a new right-off-the-floor dishwasher?
Do we really compete in warm temperatures in a physical activity wearing long pants, black knee-high boots, a shirt, a dark-colored jacket, and gloves?
Do we really wait around all day to perform for 60 seconds?
Do we really spend the rest of the day obsessing either out loud or just in our own heads about those 60 seconds and how our horse behaved?
Do we really say, “He’s was such a good boy,” ad infinitum? Do we really love our horses as much as our children and our spouses?
If this isn’t the definition of insanity, what is? I mean I know other people do crazy things for their sports. Sure, they get up too early (hockey) but not our kind of early. They dress funny (fencing) but not our kind of funny. They risk severe injury or even death (boxing) but honestly so do we. They wait around for their one or two events (swimming, track) but they don’t have a horse or horses waiting around too.
Look, I’m not even going to go into the money-side of things. I’m not going to mention what we could do with all that money we’re spending (like save a small, starving village somewhere). If I went into that, there’d be someone knocking at my door to take me away to a padded room somewhere.
But come on, do we really pamper our horses with massage, acupuncture, and chiropractor treatments? Do we really feed them endless supplements?
Do we really fly to other countries to buy horses when there are so many here in our country?
For that matter do we really fly our horses all over the world to compete?
Do we really buy treadmills for our horses?
Do we really buy more clothes and equipment for our horses than a Kardashian buys for herself? Do we really store said equipment in large, heavy wooden boxes that we must transport from location to location?
The answer is a loud and affirmative hell yeah we do to all these and more! And we’re not about to change.
It’s no wonder we horse people are an insular group. I mean what friend in the real world would understand and tolerate our special brand of crazy?
About the Author
Kim Ablon Whitney runs the blog Below the Cutoff: A Look at the Horse Show Life.