Am I still an equestrian if I don’t show?

Short answer? Yes.

And so what if you don’t show?

Being a horse girl, equestrian, horse boy, farm girl, horse addict, pony lover, horseback rider — whatever suits you in the nickname department — does not have many rules. One of those rules is definitely not the need for ribbons and show rings, glitz and glamour, or proving anything to anyone. The number one rule, as far as I’m concerned — love horses. It’s that simple!

I’m 30 years old and I work 40+ hours a week as a small animal vet tech. My job is emotionally and physically taxing, so frankly, I’m usually exhausted and in a lot of pain. Which means when it comes down to it, riding to accomplish a goal within the sport doesn’t always take precedence for me. Sometimes I just get on because I just need to be there in order to clear my mind and regain my composure from a particularly rough day, week, month….you get the idea.

And why am I not in the show ring?

Oy, the laundry list. My mare was too much horse for me. I couldn’t even ride her at home, so obviously shows didn’t work out on that front. Before that I was showing my trainer’s steady-eddy fool proof Appendix and I somehow managed to fall off over a cross rail and land on my head. My confidence was shaken after that, so working with my hothead chestnut OTTB mare was not easy (hell hath no fury like a Chestnut Thoroughbred mare, am I right?). Now I have my Haflinger cross aaaaand he went and hurt himself so we’re out of commission for yet another summer while he slowly goes back to work. Oh, and it’s expensive. I think I just have to accept that being in the show ring is not in my cards until everything else plays out.

Regardless, earning ribbons is not my main goal on horseback. I’m lucky to be part of a barn that goes to a lot of shows and yet still doesn’t require that you be the one in the show ring in order to be part of the team. I do, however, go to shows to support my wonderful barn family. Pretty much every weekend in the summer is taken over by shows. My trainer’s life becomes a mission to trailer back and forth and somehow make it to every ring to coach whatever person is having an emotional meltdown at the time (I’m kidding. Sort of.)

Side Note ***** THANK YOU! Thank you to the trainers (especially my amazing trainer and friend), for endlessly sacrificing your free time to bring your students to shows, events…whatever it may be. I raise my glass to you. You are not thanked nearly enough.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

So without getting into a bunch of anecdotal stories, I’ll make this short and sweet. Going to shows doesn’t MAKE you an equestrian. Loving and caring for horses does. So it’s ok if you can’t show, and I don’t care what the reason is; fear, money, time, etc. It took me a while to accept that being one of the only ones not in the show ring didn’t make me less of an equestrian. If you don’t show and you desperately want to….work at it! Talk to people, find ways to make it happen. Hard work goes a long way!

And let me clarify, it’s also awesome if you DO show! If your love of riding comes from the rush of being in the show ring, giving it your all and riding the best you possibly can, that’s fantastic! I take my hat off to you! Everyone’s got their thing. You do you!

But if anyone tells you that you aren’t an equestrian because you don’t show and don’t bring home ribbons every weekend…just walk away and go hug your horse. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.