The Eagles have landed from their winter horse showing in Florida and are in full swing with the Virginia circuit. Though it has been many, many moons since I have horse showed, I appreciate the dedication and athleticism of equestrians near and far, but I can’t help but notice the changes from the showing of yesteryear.
Helmets. My mom used to wear not much more than an oval shaped, velvet covered, cardboard chapeau with little to no noggin protection. When I started riding, I wore a slightly more updated version of that helmet with an elastic strap and plastic chin guard. That evolved to the clear, snap in harnesses being en vogue despite how bulky and irritating they were to your face. Then came the first “safety” helmets that were like wearing a medicine ball on your head. So please don’t complain about your favorite maker only coming in 5 colors without ventilation, it could be a lot, lot worse. Be thankful for the styles, selection, and protection.
Fashion. Equestrian fashion is very savvy now and changes every season like a Parisian runway show. Choker pins, sleeveless rat-catchers, and breeches that came up to your rib cage and matched your horse used to be the desired look.
Equipment. You never had a saddle “fit” to your horse or you for that matter. You rode in what was available, which usually was a flat, hard as a rock, piece of cowhide with a stiff tree, a forward flap and billets attaching to either a string girth or three-fold sans elastic top. Saddles were very unsophisticated so to stay in the tack, you either had to ride or pray. Also, full cheek bits were all the rage. No one even thought about using a D-ring when showing.
Prizes and Protocols. You didn’t longe in draw reins for hours before your class. You got up early, played demolition derby in the schooling ring at the crack of dawn and then pulled up your braids while tied to the trailer waiting for the show to start. You actually rode the bucks out and generally ate a lot of dirt when schooling. Yes, dirt, as we used to show on grass, sometimes even on an outside course. And only the top 6 were placed. GASP!
Horse Show Food. You used to be lucky to get a cup of instant coffee, glazed doughnut, hamburger or hot dog with ketchup or mustard only and a bag of Lay’s potato chips with soda. If they had a bake sale with rice crispy treats, it was a good day. Nowadays you have an entire food court at horse shows with fresh cooked, multi-cultural cuisine for all dietary restrictions or desires. A burger may cost you $15, but it will be a damn good burger instead of a hockey puck with plastic cheese.
Oh my, how times have changed. Happy showing everyone!!