If I judged one of the horse shows listed on the site, I can go home that evening and see who I was pinning all day. Since I'm not actively competing anymore, it's educational for me to see just which horse or rider I found particularly intriguing during the day. Usually my discovery is met with this reaction: "Oh, no wonder I liked that girl on that chestnut horse. They won the regional medal finals last year!"
But another reason I go to that website and check horse show results is to see how some of my former horse show pals are doing. We don't always stay in touch via email or by phone, so it's convenient for me to look up the latest rated show and see that they did well in their hunter or equitation class. I have one friend who switched from competing in hunters to doing the jumper division. Plus she's doing it on a new horse. It's fun for me to keep track of her progress. "Good for her!" I'll think to myself, "She's moved up to a higher level of jumpers and she won a ribbon!"
Then again, I guess I'm also living vicariously through the exploits of my past buddies. Sometimes I get a pang of... jealousy? Or maybe it's that in some small part of my being I still have a wistful attachment to All That Was Good about horse shows. I used to love the manic preparation beforehand, like re-stocking the tack trunk. And then there was that barely containable excitement I felt when I pulled the horse trailer into the showgrounds. I'd be bubbling over with enthusiasm while I checked the stabling chart to find our stalls. No one could rip open a bag of shavings and get a show stall in crisp order faster than me! But my favorite part of horse shows? The "do or die" adrenaline rush of riding through the in-gate and starting on course. There's nothing like it.
All of those feelings still seem real and valid, yet as time goes by they become harder and harder to access. I guess I have this fear that someday they'll evaporate, just like the dew on a bale of fresh alfalfa.
Don't get me wrong. I'm quite content riding Wally on the trails. And whether I was really ready, emotionally, to leave the world of horse shows as a competitor, the decision was made for me when I was injured. What's done is done. But at least I can still check the horse show website, and cheer silently for the ones still doing it.
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