It seems that every equestrian I talk to, they pretty readily have a story about their mom, and how she has played a role in the equestrian they have become. Whether or not they were raised in the industry themselves, it appears that mothering is something that is extended to our horses and this sport.
The Horse Show Mom comes to your shows prepared with all the essentials: hair spray, make-up, extra everything. She’s armed with your favorite horse show snacks and gatorade (for you and the horse…and she knows which color is your favorite, and which is the horse’s favorite).
She’s already scoped out the best hand-grazing areas. She is the keeper of your back-number, and she remembers where you left your gloves/crop/jacket/lucky charm.
She can have your horse/pony braided, tacked and ready to roll before you even have on your show clothes.Her show buns/braids/hair nets will always look flawless compared to what you could ever manage yourself.
She’s learned how to polish feet (both yours and the horse’s), gives the best pep talks, has gotten a crash course in equine photography and videography, has learned what each piece of equipment or each type of jump is called, and how your rounds or classes are being judged (mostly because she wants to know why the judge didn’t pin you first for every single class).
She’s learned what a ‘good’ show photo looks like, and to ask you if you like it or not before she buys it.
She’s driven several hours for a few lightning fast jumper rounds, or a 5 minute IHSA class, and she’s learned the ‘hurry-up-and-wait’ atmosphere of horse showing (although she still asks when *exactly* will you be showing?)
My own mother was a reluctant participant when we first met The Mare, but very quickly jump in with both feet.
She now affectionately refers to The Mare as “her grand-mare”, and like any good grandmother, my mom spoils her rotten.
The first birthday that I owned The Mare, I was in undergrad, and wasn’t able to be home to celebrate with her. I started getting text messages from my mom and the girls at the barn; my mom had baked my horse a cake, and made her a banner and a party hat.
Even now, she bakes just as much (if not more) treats for my horse as she does for my family. Whenever I’m home to visit, she usually has a batch of muffins in the freezer ready for me to take back to my horse.
My mom’s computer screensaver includes The Mare, and she regularly asks for updated pictures to keep on her phone for bragging abilities.
She’s made an effort to learn so much about my horse and what we do; from the tack she wears, to the colors that look best on her, to the clothes I wear. She knows that my birthday and Christmas lists are going to be comprised mostly of stuff for my horse, and if there’s anything on it for myself, it’s usually riding clothes.
Every time I am considering making a big purchase (think saddles, helmets, new open fronts and tall boots), I turn to my mom. And every time, she reasons through the purchase with me, usually with the notion that if her grand-mare needs it, then I should of course buy it.
I think the reason that moms are so involved is that they see that horses and the barn back up all the life lessons that they strive to teach us. Responsibility, hard work, perseverance…and that life isn’t always fair.
My mom has seen just how much my horse has influenced me, and has been a huge proponent of having The Mare by my side, no matter what. In every moment of doubt, every set-back or bump in the road, she’s the first to remind me of my role as an equestrian and just how much progress I have made with my Mare, and always points out that she truly believes that The Mare needs me as much as I need her.
So on this Mother’s Day, take some time to thank your Horse Show Mom. Your #1 fan, enabler of dreams, horse show groom extraordinaire; the one who saves the Dover catalog for you (even when you live in another state), remembers your horse’s favorite treat, makes every effort to see you and your horse in action, and who listened to the pleading of a horse-crazed kid for riding lessons.