California Riding Magazine • July, 2013

Horsey Humor:
The Unspeakable Torture of Horse Shows

by Bob Goddard

Our family has developed a standard Show Day Morning Routine. First, the females gather in the bathroom and argue. Then, they stay in there. Meanwhile, I stand outside the door and plead for equal time. I point out that if I don't get in there soon, we will be facing the first crisis of the day.

As the females emerge from the bathroom, they take turns blaming each other for making us late. They claim we are already way behind "schedule." Of course, no such schedule could possibly exist because not one of us has the slightest idea of when the show actually starts. While the accusations and counter-accusations fly, I occupy myself with loading the truck. Since I'm not sure what goes and what stays, I simply wander around the house, pick up whatever is loose and throw it in the back. Now we're ready to go.

I round up the girls - being careful to keep them separated - and we are off to the boarding barn to load the horses. Now our schedule is at the mercy of two half-ton animals that are well versed in the art of Loading Resistance. If we aren't late already, we soon will be.

Upon arriving at the showgrounds, I am assaulted with a long list of parking place demands. The girls want to be near the show ring. The girls want a spot with plenty of shade. The girls want me to back into a tiny space next to their friends. The girls are nuts.

I simply do not have the "backing skills" to do what they ask. When I bought the trailer, people told me that backing it would become second nature after a little practice. This was a lie. I never really got the hang of it and I probably never will. After about 10 feet of going in reverse, I succeed in getting the truck and trailer hopelessly jackknifed. Then, I have to go at least 20 feet forward to straighten it out. By this process, I gradually work my way a few hundred yards from where I intended to be. Eventually, I give up and inform the girls that we have found the perfect spot.

Unloading the horses is easy. We just open the door and they hop right out. Since they didn't want to be in there in the first place this is no big surprise. Of course, they have no idea where they are or how they got there. All they know is that they were made to squeeze into this little metal box, were jostled around a bit and when the door opens - BOOM - the whole world around them has been miraculously altered. I'm sure they wonder how we managed to do that. If you have seen that look of astonishment on a horse's face after unloading, now you know why.

After securing the horses to the trailer, we register the girls for their classes. Registering is a process in which you write a check for a large amount of money and exchange it for two pieces of paper with back numbers on them. In addition, all show participants are provided with a show bill. This is a list of all the classes available at the show. AND ITS FREE!

In a few minutes, our daughters will be leading their horses into the ring for their first class of the day. Ten hours from now, they will ride out of the ring from their last class of the day. In between, they will win a few ribbons and suffer a few disappointments. And while they ride this emotional rollercoaster, we will need to constantly remind them it's all for FUN.