Monday, May 28, 2012

Horse Shows

I hate horse shows.  I absolutely loathe them with a depth that is surpassed only by the furthermost edges of hell. 

It’s not that they require insanely early mornings and I don’t turn into a civilized human being until 8:30am, it’s not that, really.  I don’t mind that it seems like all outdoor shows are either a monsoon-rain swampfest of mud, or a sun-scorched dustbowl that would thrill any chinchilla.  Really I quite enjoy the feeling of my skin burning to a crisp and the feeling of arena sand in every bodily orifice I have (NONE of which are supposed to contain sand, I’m sure).  It’s not that I despise the inconsistencies and randomness of the judging system, nothing makes me happier than spending half the day trying to figure out if the judge wants to see horses that are moving out, or dragging their asses around the rail, or if they like Appys, or Quarters, or whether they want their headsets high, level, or down to their knees.  I really quite enjoy spending a hundred dollars or more to be miserable for the day just for one man/woman’s opinion of my horse.

Unfortunately, in this business, horse shows are pretty much an inevitable part of life, and despite my best efforts to stay away from them, I still find myself loading up to haul to one at least once a month.  I try and go to the 4H and little local shows because my horses are mostly AUCTION HORSES.  They usually don’t have the talent to compete at the big shows, and I don’t expect them to.  I try and find them family homes that will love them for who they are, quirks and all, not how well they can jog and lope.  I don’t have the desire or need to show at the big shows, nor do I want to spend $20/class just for video footage.  When we go to these little shows, I don’t show, oh HELL no, I usually find a few girls to ride my horses and ponies for me, as long as I pay their entry fees.  Without going to these soul-sucking money-pits, I lose a valuable marketing tool for sale stock, because let’s be honest here; when you’re filming a class for a sale video, buyers don’t give a damn how the pony placed, they just want to see it all spiffied up and trotting its passenger around the pen without killing anyone.

Without a doubt, the worst part of any horse show is the inevitable “Horse Show Mom From Hell”.  Don’t get me wrong here, not ALL horse show moms are hellacious she-wenches, I’ve seen some fantastic parenting at horse shows.  The days are long, the temper tantrums are abundant, and I give major props to any parent who can shut down a bitching teenager in under a minute while holding an ADHD horse and zipping someone else’s kid into their chaps.  Then you have the super-moms (usually 4H club leaders) who can juggle not one, but MULTIPLE kids and horses, make sure everyone gets to the ring on time and knows their patterns, and make sure everyone stays fed and hydrated while on the phone scheduling the next PTA meeting and farrier appointment.  To them, I say Bravo! (and thank you for making me feel like a failure at life).  Hell, even to the moms and dads that aren’t exactly horse-savvy, but are there to support their kid, win or lose, and have raised a polite, courteous child who demonstrates good sportsmanship and a true appreciation for their equine partner, thank you.  Your efforts make the rest of us a little more aware of what showing is SUPPOSED to be all about.

But then there are those moms.  THOSE MOMS are the moms who roll in with their brand new trucks and 50’ trailers and Congress-level horses in the back to a goddamn 4H show.  Those moms are the ones who dropped a cool $1500 on their 12 year old’s new show outfit for the year because nothing brings them more gratification than stomping on the 4H kids who MADE their show outfits.  Really?  That brings you happiness?  Crushing a 12 year old's self-esteem and spending $10k on a horse so your kid can beat a 4H-er?  Those moms are the ones that stand off to the side of the warm-up arena with their arms folded and their noses in the air talking about how much so-and-so paid for THEIR horse and how its OBVIOUSLY not as good as Little Suzy’s new world’s horse that she’s loping around on the wrong lead on because Little Suzy has “natural talent” and doesn’t need a trainer.  Word to the wise here, folks, ITS 4-fucking-H.  No one gives a shit about your little angel of a daughter and her $10k horse when you announce a little too loudly that she qualified for Quarter Horse Worlds last weekend while she rides her horsemanship pattern.  You’re at 4H, and for what?  To boost Little Suzy’s ego and stomp on the kids that DESERVE to be there?  We know you come in like your shit doesn’t stink and look down on all of us with our backyard show ponies, but we paid a whole lot less for our horses, our clothes, and our trainers, and we’re pretty content with it, so fuck off and go home.  I remember back when I first started showing 4H, my mom went to the Salvation Army and got a kid’s suitjacket and put a butt-flap and a 4th button on it, and it worked JUST fine for the hunt seat.  Hell, we even got a little crazy and got bright, obnoxious colored jackets to decorate for Showmanship.  It worked.  I had a fat, old, ugly P.O.A. with a bad attitude and a halfway decent work ethic, and goddamnit, I won ribbons with her.  Nowadays, the kids don’t even get LOOKED at by a judge unless their parents dropped big bucks on their horse and clothes because people like you showed up.  Your money and your lack of manners have no place at a 4H show, go back to your breed circuit shit and leave us alone. 

I’ve noticed that these types of moms are usually producers of those types of kids as well.  The kids who have no problem ripping the faces off of their show horses, digging them a new asshole with spurs that they have NO business wearing, and who hop off of their horse after a class, to throw the reins to those moms and plant their asses in a lawn chair to pout about the fact that Mr. Judge didn’t give them first and now they won’t get high point for the day.  Never once have I seen one of those kids pat their horse in thanks or appreciation, but GOD are they quick to bitch about how “stupid” or “lazy” the horse is and demand that Mommy and Daddy get them a different one for next year.  You can bet your ass that when one of my girls comes out of the ring, they’d damn well better be thanking their partner and making sure that horse has water and hay before they even THINK about hitting the cooler themselves. 

I’m pretty sure its considered impolite to make someone else’s child cry at a horse show, and quite frankly, I’m too bitchy at those things to want to “tactfully” confront those moms and point out that they really have no business whatsoever coming in and stomping on the kids who have actually WORKED to show there, but I don’t know what to do anymore.  I’m not sure where we, as a horse-enthusiast society, got lost along the way, but I sincerely think it’s high time we remember what 4H and the other backyard shows are all about and figure out a way to close them off to the exhibitors that clearly don’t belong there.  If anyone has any ideas, let me know. 

If this post offended you, you’re probably one of those moms.  Take the hint. 

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