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Back in the ring (or just outside of it): Adventures of a first-time Show (horse) Mom

Part 1 – Getting Back to the Ring
As a kid, I was no stranger to the show ring. The cycles of wash, shine, prep, hurry, and wait were normal parts of being a part of the horse world. Life moved fast at horse shows and the weekends spent with my Mom attempting to keep me as clean as the horse were a blast. From my perspective, the most stressful experience at shows was realizing halfway through a class that I really should have grabbed that crop as a little extra encouragement for the not so compliant pony named Tommy. I was responsible for ensuring that whatever horse I was riding was ready for the class. Everything else, from getting to the show to registering for classes to ensuring I wasn’t covered in dirt by the time classes started, were handled by my Mom and my trainer. I don’t think I ever truly appreciated their efforts and the stress that happens just outside the ring until this year.

Life happens and as my life happened I fell out of the show circuit and into the realm of lessons and trail riding and days spent at the barn grooming horses just because. This year that changed when a friend began riding my horse and declared that they’d be going to a Dressage show. Now, I grew up as a Hunter/Jumper in California and transitioned into some Reining and Cutting after some time spent in Colorado and Ohio. I’d been to Grand Prix Dressage shows and exhibitions and had taken lessons but was a newbie participant in the world of competitive Dressage. Oh, and it had been at least a decade since I’d been to any kind of show as anything other than a casual spectator or trade show rep.

Kairos the Everyday Pony

As soon as Sara made her declaration, some sort of nostalgic muscle memory took over and my days as a show-barn rat came flying back. But that muscle memory had some serious holes. The questions started to fly. How do you know what classes to do? What level are we even at!? Do we know anybody with a trailer who can take us? Does he need to be braided? Who does the braiding!?

I knew the answers were simple and I had all the experience and resources needed to figure it out, but the sudden exhilaration of preparing was a blast. Sara picked the classes and arranged the schedule for pick-up, transportation, and pony prep. Really, she did it all and told me where to be and when to be there. So, my job as a tag along participant hadn’t changed much. But now, instead of riding, my sole responsibility would be to provide the horse and ensure he looked presentable. My life as a stage show mom had begun!

The first part of show-mom responsibilities?! SHOPPING! I mean to say, ensuring that we had all necessary supplies to make sure we were appropriately turned out for the show. It should be noted that my initial reaction to almost anything is to go to the extreme, most expensive option. My brain immediately jumped to some alternate reality world in which we’d be showing constantly and apparently at a much higher level. So while I was looking at everything from a brand new leather halter with nameplate and a brand new custom show trunk (because drool…), I used a little discipline and limited myself to reality. I put my dream list aside and focused on what we would actually NEED. As much I wanted that new trunk because it was beautiful, it really wasn’t a “necessity” for a successful show and definitely overkill for a first show. At least that’s what the dream killers in my life told me.

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Wellfleet Halter by SmartPak

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Phoenix West Tack Trunk

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Kairos the Show Pony

The most obvious place to start was grooming supplies. We’d need color enhancing shampoo. Two colors, obviously, because a redheaded pony with tiny little socks and a big blaze needs to have both the red and the white areas pop! This may also be my overindulging tendencies coming up, but it’s just shampoo! A bottle of whitening spray for the day of would ensure any last-minute green spots any white surface could quickly be remedied. Tack cleaning materials were covered because I am a hoarder always have a box of various soups and conditioners and sponges available.

Gallop Color Enhancing Shampoo

(65 reviews)

I diligently made my list and crossed almost everything off because, apparently, I had a pre-existing shopping problem unrelated to showing.

The weeks leading up to the show passed in a blur and suddenly it was the all too familiar early morning at the barn making sure that tack and horse was ready.

That’s when a whole new experience and type of show related stress kicked in.

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