Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sometimes I wonder...

...why I do this--Horse showing, that is.

Let's start with the obvious reason why I'm questioning what I want to do. Money. Horse showing is getting more and more expensive. Dressage was once a poor man's sport in this area that you could do on any old backyard horse. Now it's getting to be more and more of an elitist sport. With the cost of gas, entry fees, stabling fees, show fees, etc., the average amateur is being priced right out of the sport.

Then there's the huge amount of work it takes to get ready for 6 minutes in the show ring. I spent the majority of yesterday getting ready for a horse show next weekend. I pulled my trailer out of its parking spot wedged in between several fir trees. It's covered in green slime and moss. So far I've cleaned one side, which involves standing on a ladder and scrubbing it with a scrub brush and warm water, and I've loaded all my show stuff. Then I had to clean the camper and load it. Now all this work doesn't even involve the work needed to get the horse ready.

Today, I clip my mare and hop on to see if she's sound. That brings up the other reason why I wonder how much longer I want to do this.

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time and money on my beloved mare. I swear, every show season she decides to go lame. So I've been trying to find out what the problem is and if it can be rectified. The way that she's built behind gives you an incredibly smooth ride but isn't conducive to long-term soundness.

Her questionable soundess has been forced me do a lot of soul searching. How much longer do I really want to do this?

I'm not sure I can answer that right now, but this year will be my deciding year. I'm trying to get my writing career off the ground. Juggling that with working full-time and riding and showing a dressage horse is taxing to say the least.

Sometimes, I think that people get into showing to a point where they forget why they were attracted to horses in the first place. No is nothing more enjoyable to me than a relaxing ride through the woods on a sunny day, the sound of horses munching hay in their stalls in the evening, or watching a horse grazing in the pasture. It's the little things that make me love horses, not the ribbons or the scores.

And I do love this mare. I've had her since she was 3, and she's now 13. Dressage is hard on a horse's hind end. Gailey is an incredible mover, but she's developing the early stages of arthritis. I have no intention of showing her until she breaks down. All of her full siblings have broken down and are unrideable. She's the oldest and the smallest (at 17-1), and the only one still under saddle to my knowledge. I feel pretty good about that. Big horses have a tendency to break down sooner than smaller horses.

If she isn't sound enough to show, it doesn't matter. She will always have a home with me. I admit that I'm fortunate that I have a barn and three acres where she'll retire someday.

If and when that happens, I'll have to answer the question: Do I want to get another show horse or do I just want to enjoy horses for being horses?

So I've given you a lot of negatives as to why I'm questioning my decision to show, next time I post I'll cover the other side of the story and give all the reason why I do show.

Take care and have a lovely Father's Day


Laura Crum said...

What a great post. I went through a very similar struggle almost ten years ago now, and I guess you know what I decided. Haven't been to a competition since (and they once were my whole life, or so it seemed). I still own lots of horses and have all kinds of fun with them, so that choice worked for me. Applause to you for taking such good care of your mare and really wanting to do the right thing for her.

Laura Crum said...

Oh, and I don't mean to imply that choosing not to show is the right choice. I think either choice can be a good one, as you are making the choice in such a responsible, aware fashion. Good luck to you at your next show, and it sounds like you are a great horse owner. Your mare is fortunate that she has you!

Jami Davenport said...

Absolutely no offense taken, Laura. I know what you mean. The choice we each make is hopefully the right one for us.

Mrs. Mom said...

The last time I showed, was in 2001. It was a nice QH colt, and we showed in hand at our local open shows. (Since we were int he midst of "QH Show Country", we had some tough competitors even for a local open show...) I stopped on the day that a person I once had a lot of respect for approached me at the behest of some of the QH regulars, and "invited" my colt to show with them, in the QH series coming up, and LOOSE, so they would get more points on THEIR colts.

Everything about showing stopped being fun for me right then and there. Every once in a while, I think it would be fun to learn a new skill and try the show ring ina different venue, but it never lasts long. These days, I pretty much just stick to trails, when there is a horse here sound enough to ride that is... ;) (I love rehab horses! Its just awesome to help them get back to health again...)

At any rate Jami- Kudos to you for taking care of your mare, and caring about her as you do. Whatever you two decide will work out! Also best of luck in getting your writing career going! Looking forward to Part Two about this as well!

Grey Horse Matters said...

I understand all of your concerns. My horse was also 17.2 hands and started his career in the hunter ring, I also got him when he was 3. After a long and successful career he started to sour and really hated showing. So I semi-retired him, and he just hung out and we worked lightly at home and did fun things. My daughter took him fox-hunting which he loved and he reinvented himself and did a little beginning dressage which he really took to with gusto. I had planned on showing him last year in the lower levels, but unfortunately he coliced and I had to let him go. He was 18, so my thoughts on showing... If you and your horse like it, do it and if it's not as enjoyable as it used to be do what makes you and your horse happy. I'm sure whatever you decide will work for you and your mare.