Broke Equestrian At A Horse Show

Shout Out To The Broke Rider!

Show season is starting, and even though I’m not showing this year, I still think about what I want to accomplish with riding and how far I’ve come. Thinking about my riding made me think back to my only “show” as a youth. As the youngest of five kids, the fact that I even got to ride horses was a miracle. Turning into a jodhpur-wearing, ribbon-winning equestrian was completely out of the question. So when the barn I shoveled manure at in exchange for lessons hosted their own show-day, I was excited to participate. I don’t remember what clothes I wore, but I do remember the boots: a pair of black, leather, knee-high boots that gapped a little at the calf and zipped up the inside. (Back in those days I rode hunt-seat.) When the trainer at the barn saw me all dressed up for my class, she gave me a big smile and said “I like your boots!”

Changing Room At The Horse Show
Don’t covet thy show-neighbor’s hat. Or Boots. Or show shirts. Or really anything.

I turned to my mom and whispered, “Do you think she knows they’re not real riding boots?”

Ever the practical woman, my mom said “Of course she does. But that doesn’t matter, she still likes them.”

I was naïve enough to not even realize that true field boots damn sure do not zip up the inside of the calf. Nor would they gap awkwardly at the knee. But I didn’t know any of that. All I knew was that I was showing and I got a compliment on my outfit.

There are a few times as an adult I have cringed at this memory. If I remember distinctly what the boots looked like, I’m sure the rest of the outfit was just as awkward. Until more recently I had still carried some embarrassment at the lack of money I had growing up, and how completely obvious it must have been to others, but was not always so to me.

Thank god for that.

Arabian Horse Deep In Show Thought
He’s thinking about how nuts his mom is and how he wishes she would stop getting so worked up over a little horse show!

If you (or your parent!) are scraping together the money for lessons and then piecing together a show outfit (for horse and rider) I APPLAUD YOU! This is a tough industry not to have money in. It can feel real awkward at times not having money and trying to participate. But please do not give up. Please do not ever let anyone make you feel like because your boots aren’t brand new, aren’t $1000 Parlanti field boots, or that you don’t have the latest Yucca Flats saddle pad, that you don’t belong.

Did you notice all of those things I just listed are THINGS? That’s right. I didn’t say anything about your riding, your passion, your desire. That’s because money can’t replace those things. If you (or your child) are passionate about riding, about improving, about showing, then find a way to do it and just do it. Maybe don’t show in western pleasure, because those bedazzled jackets are ridiculously expensive. (Can we I just be real for a moment? Most of those jackets are too much. Like QVC bedazzler-on-clearance too much. But I digress)

Still ride. Still show. In spite of what money you don’t have, what fancy tack you lack, in spite of a less-than memorable pedigree. Just ride.

And if you’re willing to work to get better, any trainer worth their weight in golden horse shoes will recognize that and help you. They might not pay your entrance fees, but they will help you in whatever way they can and in the ways they know you need. That may come in the form of lending you needed tack, digging through their old show clothes to find fill-in pieces for your wardrobe or working a deal to get you second hand show boots.

Horse Show Happiness
Who says broke horse girls can’t win ribbons? This is my very first rosette ribbon! Okay, technically it’s still my only one. But I plan to get more.

The equestrian world is filled with lots of people who have lots of money. It’s also filled with people who only have a little money and want to look like they have  lots of money. And then there are the rest of us who have very little extra money and. I once set an alarm for 2am so I could wake up and be the final bidder on an E-Bay auction for pair of Hobby Horse chaps. I won them. I regret nothing. I bragged about my 1/2 priced, used chaps. Please don’t let looks intimidate you. And don’t also begrudge those who have more money. They may be wishing they could trade in their perfect tack for a more natural seat. Everyone has their own path and their own struggle. Mine (and possibly yours) just happens to be lack of funds for an expensive hobby.

So keep up the good work. Keep doing your no-stirrup lessons. Keep an eye out at those used tack sales for the mythical saddle that is worth so much more than what it’s priced at. And if your parents are footing the bill for your crazy horse addiction, make sure you thank them. And go do some extra chores, like putting away the dishes in the dishwasher. And of course thank your trainer! (If you need a refresher on exactly why, see 5 More Reasons To Thank Your Trainer)

And don’t forget to have an AWESOME show season!

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Published by

Theresa Rice

Writing a modern day western and telling my daily stories of humor, sadness or inspiration. Depending on the day, it might be all three.

2 thoughts on “Shout Out To The Broke Rider!”

  1. Beautifuly written and a wonderful reminder for all of us to revel in the fact that showing is about us and our horses not our clothes.

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