When it comes to horse shows, I’m a planner. In my mind, if I can get everything just right for the show, maybe my horse and I will go double clear, and he won’t spook at the scary show distractions. But the truth is that a horse show is show time, and no matter what, the show must go on.
1. I didn’t bring my horse’s favorite treats.
They’re in the other trailer—the one still at the barn. (Someone spotted me a peppermint and a molasses cookie. My horse enjoyed both.)
2. My boot socks do not match.
This is unintentional, not some offbeat fashion statement. I feel like my balance is off. (Don’t worry. The judge can’t see my socks.)
3. My horse just sneezed all over my hunt coat. This is not good.
(It wipes off—it really does. And I’m showing jumpers. I’m already overdressed. Wipe it off and focus on learning the course.)
4. Traffic. It’s show day! I just woke up and checked the traffic map on my phone. There’s a traffic jam at 4:30 in the morning!
I need to get to the showgrounds on time. This is awful. (My friend Emily is already there. I texted her and she awesomely responded. My barn is a team—we’re going to take care of this.)
5. The weather looks bad. I’ve been stalking the 10-day forecast online for the last two weeks.
That’s right—I check the weather before they can even predict it. I’m just so excited! (The weather is out of my control. Completely and totally. Hope for the best and know that if for some reason the show is cancelled, at least the pasture got some much-needed rain.)
6. It’s 15 minutes before my class and I’m not wearing my number. I can’t find my number!
Every time I freak out about this, my number is right where I left it. In my stall area on top of my tack box. (One day I’ll get more proactive about putting on my number and save myself this moment of stress.)
7. The spooky jump. I just looked at the course and there’s a jump with flowers. AND red striped poles.
Flowers and red stripes are our arch nemesis. (Relax. That jump is part of the course whether we like it or not. Maybe I’m the one who doesn’t like the flowers and red stripes, not my horse. Toughen up and ride to that fence. We can do this!)
And while the internal struggle is real, I have never left a show without a smile. Just the opportunity for my horse and me to give it a go, even if it ends without ribbons (or with me in the dirt), it’s an experience I’ll never forget.
And I’m already counting down the days until the next show.
Allison Griest is a freelance writer based in Texas. Follow her on Twitter: @allisongriest.
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe!