Years ago the term “Christmas show” would imply some kind of singing, dancing, or play-acting. By now of course I know “horse” is implied in any show.
On the elevator, a fellow LaQuinta patron asked about my DSH shirt, and was quite impressed to learn that the D, S, and H represent Devereaux Sport Horses. I explained I was there for a horse show, and I was reminded that for those outside the lifestyle, the term that requires explanation is “show.”
“So, like, do you ride them or present them like at a dog show?”
Before I answered, I have to admit it crossed my mind, what the division might be called. Perhaps “No stirrups.”
The most important skill outside the ring is keen observation. I’ll watch the same round as Dev, and when horse and rider exit the ring, he’ll have a list of small things to work on. Tiny, imperceptible things you wouldn’t think could be detected by the naked eye. My feedback would be a little more high level, big picture. “I like how you stayed on the horse the entire round, so, ‘good job!'” “You knocked a rail down in the corner so remember to jump high over each one.”
At the Christmas Show, there was a little dog named Gracie outside the warm-up ring, staring intently. She was in the zone. I would swear she was counting strides. Or maybe it’s like they say, dogs resemble their owners and well, standing and watching a horse ride in circles in the ring probably comes naturally with time. I find myself doing it from time to time.
At some of the fancier showgrounds, all the facilities are indoors. Well kind of. If you have 100 stalls with 100 horses, um, doing what horses do in stalls, is it still “indoors”? I mean, at some point you forfeit the right to call it indoors. When I was coming through the door, I would’ve sworn I saw a few of the horses nodding their heads like, “Be a dear and leave that door open, will ya?”
There was just one last remnant of indoorsiness left, a sign saying “no dogs,” which was about as effective as putting a sign in the parking lot saying “No pickup trucks.” C’mon, know your clientele.
If you are gonna have a horse, you are practically required to own a pickup truck. You don’t see many people riding their horse to the show, showing, and then riding back. So my wife drives a big ol’ truck, and I drive a Honda Accord—economical, sensible, respectable in every way—except when it is sitting in the shadow of my wife’s big ol’ truck. Makes my car seem puny, toylike. Sure, it seats five passengers—small passengers! The neighbor’s kids have noticed my wife always drives the truck, and they ask their parents about it. “Well,” they say, ” it’s her truck,” which is not exactly the way I would have put it, to you know, explain the order of things.
One thing I have learned the hard way is every trip in the truck involves a trip to the barn, some way or another. If you are going to gas it up, might as well stop and check a hoof or drop off a blanket or rinse off your horse. A five-minute stop at the barn can get you a whole half hour of dirty too. I keep thinking I need to stock some cleaning supplies in the truck for myself. Maybe some gloves, a smock, and a gallon of Purell.
Jesse married into the horse world in 2009. His wife, Diane, rides and trains with Dev Branham in Tomball, Texas. He has ridden, if you must know, but he does not ride regularly. Jesse prefers to interact with horses more on an eye-to-eye level, two and four feet firmly on the ground, respectively. He enjoys long walks in the pasture and grazing on a rainy afternoon.