By Ambassador Laurel Hanna
So, a lot has changed since I showed as a junior. Like… Oh about 20 years. It used to be I would wake up at 4:30 am (or earlier) and spring out of bed, dashed into the car (I’d packed the night before) and turned up the Dave Matthew’s as loud as I could stand racing through the dark morning to get to the show grounds. I’d muck out 7 or 8 stalls in a fury to spend hours grooming my horse and getting ready. Then I’d spend the day chatting with barn mates and friends while I looked forward to my class. Waiting for 8 hot (hey, I’m in SC- it’s always hot) hours was no problem. I’d go into my class with a smile on my face and be a little bummed if we didn’t ribbon at the end of it.
Now, fast-forward to 2017. The baby wakes me up at 4 am ready to eat. I get her fed and changed while I bump around in the dark trying desperately to not wake up my sleeping husband and try to remember where I left my sports bra that number one, won’t show through my shirt and number two, will keep the (ahem) ladies where they are supposed to be. I try with all my might to just stay upright and avoid the temptation of pillows and covers. I creep to my teenager’s room and wake her to get ready to show. She grumbles a response I try to ignore. It does no one any good to start a battle this early. We fall out of the house and into the car. Pull out of the driveway. Pull back in the driveway to retrieve the forgotten coat, boots, whatever the item du jour happens to be. Then, we’re off! But only as far as the nearest Starbucks to refuel. It’s delicious, and refreshing, and everything I expect heaven to be. I am finally feeling like hey, I may be able to make it today!!
We get to the show grounds to take care of the two horses we brought. This means one of us is walking or lunging and the other is mucking stalls. Now, at this point I have to admit I find mucking stalls therapeutic. Don’t all Type A horse people?! No?? Moving on. So, it happens that if I am showing first thing in the morning, my daughter shows at the end of the day. EVERY. TIME. I don’t know why. If I show at the end of the day, she’s at the beginning. Can’t win. The show has us captive. So, thankfully on this day I show first. It’s awesome. I am awake. I am ready. I am going to THROW UP. The Starbucks was a horrible idea. Who’s idea what that? Anyhow, in we march for our flat classes. Ok, let’s get things straight. Many times, I am showing against 15-16 year old me. These girls are TOUGH. We rarely place in the Eq. When the stars align and we do get a ribbon, I often wonder if the judge is throwing us a bone. 'Hey, look at that old lady out there trying. Throw her a pink rosette for staying on her mount.' Other times, no ribbon and hey, I’m just tickled to come out alive. By the grace of God, we get around the rest of our classes. I have to dismount after my ride to walk off all the kinks and knots. My right ankle is screaming, I can’t catch my breath, and there is now a permanent sweat stain on my saddle (ew.) Again, I am just happy to be alive at the end. I take my saintly pony, who I know has rolled her eyes at my mistakes at LEAST ten times and fill her up with the yummiest treats money can buy. Without her, I am sure I’d be dead.
At this point, most of my classmates have cooled off and put their ponies up for the rest of the day. Many of them will come back for a hand walk and a little extra bedding at the end of the day, but those lucky enough to have grooms will just head home to enjoy their Saturday. Me, I get to wait until the teenager’s classes. I will get some lunch, FaceTime with the baby, and maybe just maybe get to take a cat nap in my knock-off ENO hammock (where WERE these things when we were younger?). I will watch my daughter show, get the horses set for the night and trudge my sad behind back to Starbucks where I pray the caffeine will be strong enough to carry me home. I am sore, and exhausted. Somehow, though at the end of it all I am still my teenage self and excited about the show. Then, I remember, we do it all again tomorrow.