Time to appreciate the things we have

Time to appreciate the things our horses help provide us. PHOTO: Journal Photo

Hey, y’all. It’s that time again, the month of November when we all gather ’round a table and eat ourselves into a food coma all under the guise of giving thanks. And yet, do we ever really actually give thanks? I’m not talking the standard, “Dear Lord, thank you for allowing me to stuff my face,” prayer. I’m talking thanks in general. You know, showing some love for the little things in life, especially as it relates to horses and showing. Things like…

1. Breeches with Spandex in them: Do you remember the days when pants were made out of cotton without a lick of stretch to them? I do. Worse, the waistline would split you in two. Literally. You’d end up looking like a human yoyo. Thank goodness for stretchy clothes.
2. Royal wire: Once upon a time we used nails and bailing wire to hang things at horse shows. (Cue the violins.) Imagine such a world. Saddle stands were lugged in from horse trailers. If you rode English, you stuck two nails in the wall and hung your saddle by the stirrup leathers. Bridle racks were made of wood. Shelves were made of stone. (Kidding.) Life was way more primitive back then. We give thanks to the handy little wire pieces that make showing so much easier.
3. Body shapers: I used to think body shapers were for old people, but in reality, even a 20-something needs help from time to time. (Especially after the holidays when the great equalizer called “holiday dinners” catches up to us all.) Thank you lord for the makers of 85 percent polyurethane polymer that we use to smooth fat rolls and thunder thighs. You make us look better.
4. Food trucks at horse shows: What would we do without our caterers on wheels? I’ll tell you what. Starve. This happened recently at a horse show. It was no fun to have to drink from a hose. A few of us wanted to mug the smart people who’d packed food. So I give thanks to that melting pot of horse show exhibitors, the one spot on the show grounds where cutters and hunter riders have found common ground: The breakfast burrito.
5. Braiders/Banders: All hail the people who turn messy, fly-away manes into a work of art. Enough said.
6. Number magnets and/or safety pins: Could you imagine having to use Duct Tape to adhere our numbers to our backs or saddle pads? Velco? Glue? Just what would we do without safety pins and number magnets? I don’t want to think about it.
7. Equine ear plugs: Some horses can hear an infant snoring in a baby stroller, and they find that sound absolutely terrifying. I’m so grateful for ear plugs. No more getting tossed on my keester when Grandma Cookie lets little Suzie tap dance across the grandstands. As an added bonus, ear plugs make for fun and games after the show. They bounce.
8.  Vetrap: Handy for wrapping a horse’s leg and gagging an errant spouse. What other product besides Duct Tape is so versatile? Use it as a hair tie for your horse’s tail. Or wrap it around the handle of your muck bucket for added insulation. Use it around the muzzle of that yappy dog that’s keeping you up at night (joking!). It comes in all kinds of cool patterns, too. Show off your inner cheetah.
9. The swing out saddle rack: Not too long ago saddle racks were adhered to trailer walls. They took up so much space it was like trying to get dressed in the back seat of a sports car. We were forever banging into those things, too, usually with our thighs, thereby ensuring a bruise the size of Rhode Island. So thank you to whoever invented the sliding-out saddle rack.
10. No more butt bars: You young’uns won’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about. Let me fill you in. Back during the days of the straight-load trailer, there were these little metal bars you hooked across your horse’s butt. They kept a horse from backing out while you got the door closed and they made a lot of noise if you left them down. Everyone always hooked them into place when the trailer was empty and I can’t tell you how many times we older folks clocked our heads on them. If you were lucky, yours was covered in vinyl. Most of us couldn’t afford such a plush luxury as a padded butt bar, but having cracked my head on both the metal and the vinyl kind, I can say with absolute alacrity both hurt.
11. Fly spray: I am especially grateful for the makers of herbal fly spray. It’s nice to know I won’t get lung cancer thanks to my horse. I prefer the kind with peppermint oil. It makes your horse smell like an equine candy cane.
12. Hay bags: Racetrack veterans still use the Spiderman-style hay net. I have no idea why. Have you ever tried to put hay in those things? It’s like putting a squirming baby into a onesie. Thank goodness someone invented a better way. Thank you Velcro (another great invention). Thank you double-sided metal snaps (a modern-day marvel). Our horses are probably grateful, too, because it can’t be easy eating from a giant, hay-filled tether ball.
13. Bling: OK, so this doesn’t really fit in with the rest of this list, but we should give a shout out to the people who make sparkly show clothes. And saddles. And bridles. There’s something majestic about things that twinkle like a Christmas parade. I, for one, am very grateful for their expertise (even if I can’t afford them).
14.   Hair nets: So what if you look like a food-service worker? Whatever did we do before someone invented those handy little nets that keep stray hairs in place? I have fly-away hair and so I resemble a hat-covered dandelion without them. I am ever so grateful for their invention.
15.   Golf carts/electric bikes: There’s nothing worse than being assigned a stall that’s miles and miles away from the arena. It’s like having to walk from long-term parking to the airport. Worse, if you forget something, you’re walking all the way back, unless someone you know has one of those handy electric bikes or a golf cart. I love zipping around the show grounds on my bike. I’ve been known to thumb my nose at people walking.
16.   Barn Buddies: It’s only fitting to end our list with the most glorious of all creatures: our horse-show support group. Be it a parent or spouse, what would we do without someone to listen to our complaints? Who else understands pattern panic? What other person would feed your horse for you at the crack of dawn?

Seriously, what would we do without the people in our lives who support and understand this crazy, maddening habit of ours? Whether they’re playing fetch at horse shows or working double time to pay for entry fees, a simple thank you could never be enough to express our gratitude. So this is for you, barn peeps! We celebrate you during this month of giving. We couldn’t do it without you. 

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