This year of 2020 has been hard on everyone, and not just horse people. From farmers and ranchers taking a major hit, to people losing their jobs, restaurants closing, oil workers being laid off left and right, whole states being shut down, the horse industry and trainers and riding instructors have taken a huge loss. However, I feel that I’ve been blessed enough to live in a state that had very minimal restrictions compared to some states that would hardly allow a person to leave their house. That being said, at current time, I’m working in a job during the day in which we were sent home to work from home for almost 2 months. I was one of the lucky ones, lucky enough to be able to keep working.
Covid-19 also affected shows, like livestock shows and horse shows. Some states still haven’t opened up to allow these kinds of shows, and some have just continued to cancel as it’s easier than taking a risk. While some shows have continued here in Oklahoma, especially some of the larger ones like AQHA World show is still in the plans (as of August 12, 2020). Other events like large state fairs have been cancelled around the country
This also included the small, local county horse show for the fair. I helped to organize the show, find the judge (who did a fantastic job), got some volunteers, and was gracious enough to have a fair ground crew work with me to make sure the COVERED arena was in good shape. Now, was it perfect, no. But nothing is.
Now I’m bringing notice to the COVERED arena because that’s to note 2 things. Number one, growing up, I didn’t have a covered arena to show in at the county fair, or many of the rodeos I participated in. Covered arenas were expensive and quite honestly, you had to be showing at like the Region/Area show to get that luxury. As my dad used to say, “don’t be picky about what you have to work with, some people don’t get that luxury to even play the game. Do your best and use it to your best advantage”. Yes, that’s what he said.
Number two about this covered area is that the fact that it also had huge, Big Ass fans (yes, that is the name of them). These fans helped to circulate the air around, as well as we left the doors open to allow for more breeze to flow. The fairground workers did a fantastic job, but there was one end of the arena that did get a little muddy, but I was able to deal with it, like most other people would have. You work around it, to the best of your ability.
To my disappointment and astonishment, I had more complaints about the show, than positive things. Which is to say, they didn’t offer to volunteer (because yes, I needed MORE volunteers than what originally signed up). Instead these people (adults and children alike) all complained and grumbled. From the fact that I made them follow State 4-H rules, to the fact that I tried to find the safest options instead of the fastest, to that the show was taking too long, to what order that classes were ran, to the patterns that were picked for the classes. There were many other complaints as well, but it honestly reminded me why I haven’t put on a horse show in about 15 years.
Instead of being excited to show, I got more negativity. What I recommend, is next time you don’t like something, especially at a horse show, bring it up to management, to the person putting the show on (and not just the fair board, the 4-H educator, or going around that persons back) but talking to them and then offering to volunteer to make it better. Without volunteering, a person has no idea what all needs to happen and why it’s important to volunteer. In times like this, be grateful that there even was a horse show at all. Honestly, it would have been super easy to just cancel the show and say that we didn’t want one due to Covid-19. I do realize that if you have a younger child in the show, that a lot of time is spent helping that child get ready and prepared. But, if it’s an older child who has been showing and they know the ropes, there is no reason that a person can’t let the child tack up their own horse themselves and lend a hand in the ring. Run some drinks to the judge, help set up/tear down obstacles for games and trail, help open and close gates, etc. There is a lot more that happens than what meets the eye.
Let me clarify that this show was free to anyone who wanted to participate, from across the state as well as anyone who wanted to come from a neighboring state like Texas. Granted we didn’t have trophies for all classes, we did have ribbons. We did require current coggins tests for all horses and followed all other Oklahoma 4-H rules for horse shows. And we paid for a judge to come. Yes, the judge made them wear hats or helmets, yes she required appropriate attire and gear. The patterns were all state approved. The judge was a well-known judge from our area, and appropriate for what she can and is allowed to judge and very knowledgeable (granted some rules are different between AQHA and 4-H). The judge was willing to help kids (and adults) and explain to them why she placed them the way she did. Not one person went to the judge after the show asking for tips or recommendations (this was something she offered and announced several times over the PA system).
Instead of being grateful for the opportunity to show at a free show and potentially win prizes, the average person complained. Instead of taking the opportunity to learn and get educated, they ran back to their trailers. Instead of taking the time to thank the judge for coming, thank the people who helped to put it on, they complained to each other and to the fair board.
In order for there to be a show next year, I sure hope to see a little more gratefulness and appreciation.
Be grateful, not hateful.
As a kid, I could never figure out why people didn't want to train horses for a living. It boggled my mind. As a kid I can remember loving the fascination and wonder of how things worked and what made certain things work the way they did. The same with horses. Not every horse responds the same and the last. And not every horse responds as the next one, and the next 100 horses you work with.
I loved seeing the light bulb "click on" with the horse when they understood something. That's why I couldn't figure out why other people didn't want to train horses. What's wrong with them???
As I went through high school and college, being told I wouldn't amount to anything and that I would end back up in my small home-town, working in a factory, I became more and more determined to do what my heart was set on doing. That's when I moved south and went to college and learned more at a small town college, with tons of hands on experiences and the professors knew who I was and what I wanted. Most of the kids were either ranch kids, rodeo kids or kids who just wanted to dabble in horses and see if they really wanted a profession in the industry or just to keep it a hobby. Majority of the ranch kids went back to the ranch and continued doing what their parents had done and their grandparents had done. Me, I didn't go back to the dairy farm. I did for awhile, but those horses were calling my name. I always had a "normal" job and on the side trained horses. Usually taking in a couple outside horses and maybe having a personal horse or 2.
Over the years, I've learned why most people don't want to train horses for a living. It's a lot of work. Spouses don't always like all of the work involved, long days, cold days, hot days, rainy days, etc. Getting bucked off to get back on, getting feet stepped on, getting drug through the mud, getting run over, knocked down, bit, kicked, tack and equipment breaking, spending thousands of dollars on feed, making sure the feed rations are correct, spending thousands of dollars on rent and equipment, shavings that just go into the manure pile. The getting up before the daylight so that you can feed, or at 2 am so that you can ride and get done before the heat of the day. The doctor bills from the injury 2 years ago, or telling you to find a different profession. Staying up late to go check on that sick horse, just one last time before going to before going to bed. Making sure your bills are paid but struggling when clients don't pay on time, living paycheck to paycheck waiting and hoping the next one comes in the mail the next day. Having an older vehicle that breaks down, or blows out a tire when least expected. Or the horse that decides to colic or get sick.
As trainers, we aren't just trainers. We're part vet, part barn manager, part taxi driver, part sales person, part parent, part lesson giver, part stall picker, horse turnout-er, feeder,secretary, rider, student, instructor, and trainer. We have many jobs in just one job in itself.
But overall, those of us that train, we tend to not let the little, negatives get to us. Instead we look at the positives. We love it when we can take a colt and progress them to be winning the next big class, or going down the trails as quietly as an aged horse. We love being able to take the bolting, bucking, rearing horses and turn them into nice, quick, gentle riding horses. Best of all, we love selling someone the horse of their dreams or giving a lesson to child who's smile lights up the sky. These are all great reasons we do it. And not to mention many other reasons as well. For me, its the light bulb that clicks on for the horses and for the people I give lessons to. The kids that get to go to their first show. Win their first ribbon. And pass out on the ride home.
If I missed any other reason that makes you the trainer that you are, leave a comment. I'd love to hear them. As far as to the owners of horses, the parents and people who take lessons, its not always a glamorous life, but it's so, so, so very worth it.
Thank you to everyone who came to my clinic yesterday! We had a blast, learned a ton and ate chili that mom made for us so we could warm up at lunch. Thanks again! I'll keep in touch for whoever wants another clinic....maybe inside next time?????
What a great turn out we had for the Sept 23, 2012 clinic located in Curtiss, WI. Everyone that came learned a ton, had a good time and went home with a pocketful of tools to be able to use with their own horses. Though it was cold and windy, we made it through the day and enjoyed it. I'd like to thank everyone who had come to the clinic and everyone who helped out. That included Don and Kevin who hosted the clinic at their facility, and my parents for supporting me. To everyone else, I hope to see you