Writing 'The Ode to the Horse Show Mom': need your assistance!
Being a very much on the side and write-when-inspired creative writer, I don't write much anymore, however I was struck the other day at a show about how much effort the horse show mom gives to see their sons and daughters succeed. Growing up in the pony club, 4-h, open, then rated show arenas, I never really fully appreciated how much these moms give to the behind the scenes of our sport until just a little while ago.
I was wondering if any of you would like to contribute small pieces of what your mom being around you, then, now, anytime, has done for you as a rider, and as a person. Just small pieces... something that will always stick out in your mind. Such as the 'mom I forgot my gloves!' <mom returns with gloves> 'mom, I forgot my bat!' <mom returns with bat> 'mom, I'm soooo thirsty!' 'mom, I might be sick!' Anything you'd like to share! I have my own experiences, but would love to hear what you have to say. Names will not be used, just the thoughts incorporated into the 'Ode'
The thing that sticks in my mind was the fact that my horse show parents (not just mom, dad was official boot wiper) always had time, sunscreen, snacks, a water, a free hand, a kind word, a shoulder to cry on, and a hug for all the other barn rats, at shows and at home.
My mom frequently talks about the Mother's day weekend she spent sitting on the very sunny hill above the arena just watching because we were at a pony club rally, lol. But she enjoyed it, I know!!
There are stars in the Southern sky and if ever you decide you should go there is a taste of time sweetened honey.
I'm always so grateful even now when my mom can make it to a horse show. So nice to have the moral support and an extra pair of hands. And it seems like such a small thing, but I've always absolutely loved having someone there to hand me my jacket a couple seconds before I ride into the show ring, so I don't have to fry in it any longer than I have to
She learned how to drive a horse trailer so that we could do more shows. When we would get stuck in a not good backing she would find someone to help her. The 4-h shows there was always a dad to help out.
She took me to lesson in the winter and it was freezing cold. She would sit in the arena with hot chocolate for me.
She was there to hold my crop, shine my boots, last minute tail brush, water holder, bring food so that I would eat. When I got heat exhaustion at a show she talked to the show manager who had a pool. I had ot put my feet in the pool to cool off.
She made my show clothes so that I could be in style with what others wore. No one ever knew she made my show clothes.
Even now when she comes to a show she wants to help me. There are days that I wish she was at more of them. Espeically when I can not manage to keep my boots clean.
All the moms that went to the state level competition for our county were like having many moms. They cheered us all on.
I honestly cannot even begin to tell you everything that my mom has done for me (and for my younger sister, who was also bitten by the horsie bug at a young age!). My mother wasn't as much of a show mom as she was an all-arond lifesaver.
My mom grew up without any pets of any kind, and the first time she had to hold a horse for me (I was 8, it was a bomb-proof lesson pony) she held the veeeeeeeeery itty bitty end of the lead rope and stood 6 feet away. Fast forward many many years, and she's a better horsewoman than I am - a true Pony Club mom! She doesn't ride, but she swallowed her fear and learned how to drive a truck and trailer to get us to lessons and rallies...she learned how to boss around my 17h goofball...she learned how to shove a tube of wormer down his throat and the thermometer up his butt.
My mom can muck a stall, sling hay and scrub water buckets with the best of them. And she was there for me countless times when I needed help with Rebuff, or even just moral support. When I was on a business trip and couldn't get home for a week, and Rebuff had a terrible lymphangitis flare-up, it was my mother who went out to the barn twice a day in the dead of winter (before and after work) to cold hose/hand walk/medicate/soothe my sweet old man.
When I boarded Rebuff at a barn an hour away and he bowed his tendon, Mom made the trip countless times after work with me, just to keep me company...sometimes she'd drive so I could take a nap or catch up on work. And when I made the decision to move Rebuff home for the last two years of his life, she would drive over in between clients to give him lunch. And Mom was there with me the day I let Rebuff go to cross the Rainbow Bridge.
I'm so grateful for everything she's done...not just shining boots before a class, but supporting me throughout all these years. I wouldn't be the horsewoman I am without her.
I was a horse show Mom and now I get the better part, a horse show Grandmom and it's an easier role.
My son rode starting at 8 years old and stopping at 13 then on to computers and karate, etc. He finished college last year and his older brother who rode a pony when he was 2 but I had no money to continue with him, now he has 2 kids and the youngest is a girl, yes a girl.
She started riding at 3 years old, a bit older than Daddy. But she's happiest when on a pony and I do enjoy watching. I got her most of her riding clothes, her Charles Owens JR8 helmet, gloves ($26 for tiny gloves) boots were hand me downs, her first pair of riding britches, size 2, the garters, a hand me down stock pin, etc. Shopping is half the fun, watching is the other half. Seeing her progress as a rider has been exciting, and now she's a whole 4 years old. She just got a trophy and champion in a horse show last weekend. It's a little tiny trophy but she's so happy with it. I think the ribbon is longer than she is tall. She's 4 and petite for her age. It was a thrill for her to have her hair be long enough to braid her own hair.
I loved to watch my son ride our first horse, but the attitude was so different, it just didn't seem to be the same thrill for him as it is for my granddaughter. We are leasing an adorable little gray Welsh and they are a perfect size for each other, he's as push button as you can get, she can ride him by herself and when she keeps her elbows in she looks great on him. He has 2 blue eyes too, OMG, he is so cute and they are a perfect little package at horse shows. I think we're lucky to have access to such an adorable and kind pony for a nominal cost.
But I'm also glad I don't have to remember the gloves, the garter, having the shirt, pants and jacket clean, the stock pin, the hair just right and boots shined. Now the next generation of horse show Mom has to take over. Whew!
My Mom was and still is the best show mom She trailers me to lessons and shows without complaint (all right some kidding about the early hours ) She functions as my groom, doing whatever I don't have time to do and making sure that I look "ring ready". She's always supportive and always offers advice (even when I don't want her to! ) She is the best to have around at shows and I cannot imagine going to shows without her (guess I will need to start training the BF as backup )
ETA: Mom also rides and is always ready to go on a trail ride with me and my show guy when we need a break. She cleans stalls for me and does turnout when I'm out of town and just generally does all the barn chores that need to be done and I'm unable to do.
What DON'T horse show moms do!? My parents have shown up with everything, and believe me, I forget my number/collar/crop on a somewhat daily basis. They're the ones videotaping rounds and telling me "oh it looked so good, honey!" and then holding up the bagels/donuts/sandwich supplies they've brought with them, too Everyone I've ever rode with - and subsequently, gotten along with! - has been all about food, so showing up with sustenance makes you the favorite for the day.
My parents are so funny because I've been showing hunters/jumpers for 13 years and saddleseat for 6 before that and I still have to explain the basics to them, but they try so hard to understand and just want everyone to be happy and have fun with what they're doing. They're also the shoulder to cry on and great at giving pep talks and talking me off the ledge.
The best was when I put my mom on my mare and led her around the arena and let her ride her at a walk and a very slow trot (my mare is insanely lazy) and it made her day at a show once. It's hard to imagine anything we can do to show our appreciation but it's the small things that really count. My parents treat the horses like grandchildren and spoil them absolutely rotten and love it.
GRowing up my mom was not only the horse show mom but my trainer too!
Countless hours in the ring helping, coaching , yelling LOL!
Lists so we never forgot a thing ( saddle bridle girth, gloves, hairnets)
Money ( more than I could ever imagine until I had two daughters who love to ride)
support, breakfast at 4 am (before loading us and 15 barn kids onto trailers for a 2 day horseshow)
the list is soooo long I can't even think about completing it
and my Dad
water bucket cleaner
Mom keeper ( he makes sure she eats and drinks while she is running like a lunatic helping us)
If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.
Thank you everyone! What great thoughts/stories. My notes sheet is getting larger by the minute, I will be sure to post the Ode when it is completed! Please feel free to continue to add, I will be checking back often.
For years I have contemplated writing "Here Mom, Hold This Horse" as a tribute to my mom. You can use that phrase, but make sure to give credit-of course I probably need to give someone else credit first. My poor dedicated mom was handed a horse to hold in between classes by a good friend. She did it, also from the end of the rope like the prior post. She did not realize that she was holding the STALLION, until he peed and almost got her on the foot. I guess when he spread out she saw the jewels-then she freaked out. But was a good sport about it.
My mom, who: got up at the crack of dawn, learned to drive a horse trailer and back it too!, Bought a big station wagon to pull said horse trailer, sewed the show coats, rolled the hat brims over a tea kettle steam, learned to tack up a horse, even once took a couple of riding lessons herself to try to overcome the fear of the horse, proudly considers herself a horse "grandmom", wiped boots and bits with the best of them, made herself an apron to put everything in for ringside, was my best fan and number one supporter!
hehe, almost all of these made me tear up! My mom is the expert at "here, eat this and drink your 20th bottle of water" so I dont fall out. It seems like she always has my show bag slung over her shoulder and she's great at being so nervous that I dont have to cause shes got it covered. I remember at my very first huge show, with my very first horse, they called the results and I had won, and I cried a little and she balled her eyes out and threw the camera into the air.. and then of coarse forgot to shut the video camera off so you get all of the congratulations and commotion as we are walking back to the barns... moms
I really enjoyed all of these stories. My mom (well both my parents really) took a big step back from their horse show parent duties once I left 4H when I was 13 and horses even became something we argued about when I was in high school. Now they listen to me ramble on about lessons! I really admire your moms (and dads)!
When my mom would truck me to lessons she listerned 100% so that at home she could remind me things that I learned in lessons. My biggest was the diagonal. She would give me the hand signal for the wrong one until I learned it. My mom laughs because my bad side I still have issues with but I am better with feeling it.
When I took dirt dives from the horse she would be running over to check on me. Didn't matter if it was a jumping class, or a flat class. Her firt instinct was get to her daughter. She also insisted that I rode in a helmet in my saddle seat classes before it was required at the 4-h level. (I rode a slight naughty morgan).
She would get me to shows SUPER early so that I could lunge the dirt off the hot morgan until I could learn to ride the morgan's hyper moments.
She always brought food & water. Pushing it to all the kids that we rode with.
My mom got me out of a ballet studio and on a horse when I was four. The ballet gig wasn't very appropriate for a large clutzy child. The horse thing stuck better.
She drew the line a driving a trailer, but did manage (and run the entry booth and announce at) horse shows. Every spring would begin with the ritual of reading the then-AHSA rulebook so we could discuss it on the way back and forth to the barn.
She held horses, lunged horses, cleaned stalls, read dressage tests, met the trailer and walked the horse home at all hours, walked cross country courses, learned to braid and made me learn, made a black coat for whatever that class was called at Turkey show where you were supposed to wear sort-of formal attire and then watched in anguish as I nailed fences 1-7 and then majorly chipped the last fence.
She no longer rides, but still enjoys going to the barn with me to see her grand-horse (well, not when it's 100+°F out) and going to shows to watch me ride. Her shoulder is kind-of beat up (all those years of hand-walking, she swears) so I don't ask her to hold horses any more.