Horse Play

A Thank You Letter to Missing Spurs

©Anne Helmstadter

We have a problem in our house (and at our barn): Missing Spurs.

Spurs take on a life of their own and disappear. All the time. But especially after horse shows.

This is puzzling.

Is there a spur-eating monster at our barn?

Are the horses sneaking out of their stalls at night, hunting down the offending spurs and hiding them?

Are mice scurrying off with them to use as comfy bed-building material?

The answer to these questions is, of course, no. I’m excited to say that after several years I’ve finally cracked the case:

Spurs are just very talented at hide and seek!

They hide under muck boots, boot trees, dusty paddock boots, and broken reins in the car boot bin.

Spurs left out by the cross ties find their way into the barn spur bucket.

Spurs thrown on top of trunks in the tack room fall behind said tack trunks. Spurs buried at the bottom of tack trunks are lost forever.

Spurs are swallowed by smelly socks, sweaty hairnets and crumpled show shirts when shoved in show bags. Sometimes spurs even take shelter under piles of dirty clothes in bedrooms.

This talent is frustrating to their two teenage owners who must suffer the panic, five minutes before their lessons begin, upon realizing their spurs are nowhere in sight. The teenagers experience further undue stress when they enter the arena for their lesson without leather straps and metal adorning their ankles. This inevitably leads to harsh words from their trainer and worse, sore legs from having to work especially hard to encourage their mount forward.

As a parent, I’m not sympathetic about Missing Spurs. Nor the panic, stress, or harsh words from the trainer.

I’m even less sympathetic about sore legs. I mean, gosh, what a shame that a rider must actually exert effort! I refuse to purchase an endless supply of spurs because I know they will all eventually turn into Missing Spurs.

But I am thankful to Missing Spurs—even the elastic ones that torture my fingers when I try to push the buckle piece through the stiff hole-less strap a few minutes before their owner is due in the show ring.

I’m thankful to these spurs because in all their missing-ness they teach my children something very important: Responsibility.

And, as it were, the consequences of irresponsibility.

The benefits of learning this lesson will eventually pay off in many other aspects of their lives. (Although I accept the teenagers will never appreciate Missing Spurs as I do.)

So, thank you Missing Spurs. Thank you for building strength of character in my girls and putting them on the path to developing GRIT—what I consider one of the best gifts horses and all that accompanies them provide.


About the Author

Anne Helmstadter is a writer and lives in Las Vegas. When she’s not riding her OTTB she can be found supporting her two girls at horse shows and driving to and from the barn in her horse scented car. Her writing has appeared at literarymama.com and in Las Vegas’ Zip Code Magazines. Follow Anne’s blog at www.bitspieceslife.com