It’s Not About the Ribbons

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As I sat down at my desk tonight to catch up on emails, I looked over the tangible results of my weekend of horse showing that were scattered on the floor. While it’s wonderful to bring home some pretty ribbons, medals or halters, I was really thinking of all happiness the horses bring me—and how horse showing means so much more than ribbons.

Though the Kentucky Horse Park is almost literally in my backyard, I simply don’t have the money to compete at the rated shows hosted there. Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to live in an area that has a plethora of local-show options, most of them a quick jaunt down the interstate. And while I would love to see how my little red hunter would stack up against some serious competition, I am just as happy to watch him progress against other quality horses in smaller venues. And I’m not going to lie: Missing a distance when I pay $17 a class is much easier to handle than if I had paid at least double that!

Here are some of the reasons why I love horse shows:

  1. It brings together friends I don’t get to see nearly as often as I would like.
    Horses have allowed me to get to know so many amazing people, who are scattered all over the Midwest (and elsewhere!). Because many of them show or have children who show, I get the added bonus of catching up with old friends while waiting for classes. Though I don’t see them nearly as much as I would like to, I treasure the time I have with them. Combining that precious time with the horses means my heart is extra full.
  2. Horse Show Friends
  3. It lets me celebrate the victories of others—even if they aren’t blue.
    I have a very dear friend who owns the half-sister of my heart horse, Iggy. Kelly has navigated her mare’s lamenesses and quirks for the last three years or so, constantly making sure her mare is as sound and happy as possible. This weekend I watched her make her crossrails debut after a long show ring hiatus. Though quite a ways from her former 2’6” show career, watching that mare jump around, sound and enjoying herself, made my heart smile.
  4. Horse Show Friends
  5. It allows me to watch people on the beginning of their equine journey.
    The show I attended this weekend was at my home farm. I got to watch a young woman from the lesson program compete in her first show, in poles. To make it even sweeter, she rode a horse who has come back to work from a potentially devastating injury. What a gift to watch people as they begin to make their own way in the horse world!
  6. Horse Show Friends
  7. It helps me set goals for the next show.
    My little horse is rocking and rolling around the 2’ hunters. While I desperately miss showing Iggy in the 3-foot and equitation divisions, it’s nice to be reminded that we will get there—someday—when watching the more-seasoned horses jump around. The higher divisions let me really analyze how each rider rides, and I take away pieces from each pair that I want to apply to my own riding. The riders in these horse shows help me set stepping stones of small goals until we’re ready to tackle the higher heights.
  8. Horse Show Friends
  9. It helps me get outside my head.
    Being an adult is innately stressful. Personal and professional pressures seem to close in on us constantly, making many of us feel like there is no time to catch up or even take a break—and I am no exception. Horse showing takes my focus off my to-do list and lets me enjoy the horses for more than just the two hours or so I am at the barn each day. For me, the mental break and the ability to slow my train of thought for almost an entire day is not just a blessing—it’s a miracle.
  10. Horse Show Friends

Though I may return to work on Monday with a “horse-show hangover,” it’s worth every minute (and every penny) to spend time with those I love—both two- and four-legged.

Sarah Coleman has a soft spot for chestnuts
with chrome, including her off-the-track Thoroughbred that she competes
in the hunters. Based in Lexington, Ky., she is the Director of
Education and Development for New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program. 

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