There are times when I wander off the reservation and post about subjects that are not, strictly speaking, wellness-related. This is one of those times.
One of my “side-gigs” is being an announcer at horse shows. These shows highlight cow horses and their riders. They are judged on how well they work together, either on predetermined patterns or working cattle. It’s way more complex than that, but that’s the simplistic version, and also about as much as I really understand. There’s a judge, a person to “scribe” ( write down the feedback from the judge as the judge is focused on the horse & rider). They let me know via radio what the scores are and I in turn announce them to the audience. I also may , depending on which “class” is working, be timing them, announcing who’s next, giving miscellaneous updates and information, etc. It’s usually Friday through Sunday, 8AM each morning until anywhere from 3:00pm to 7:00pm, depending on the number of participants. The gig is actually challenging because it goes basically uninterrupted, except for when they are switching venues or dragging the arena to even out the dirt. The moment I switch off, check my phone or try to get clever with someone around me, I will miss a score, not turn the timer on / off or call the horse or rider by the wrong name.
This past weekend was the “Pot ‘O Gold” show ( a reference to it’s proximity to St.Patrick’s day I’m wagering) As I worked on Saturday, which is usually the long day and was also in this case, I started reflecting on what was going on around me and what my place was in this little world. My observations, in no particular order.
- The group discovered that I can sing, so I occasionally sing the National Anthem before we begin. I’m reminded of when I used to sing in competitions when I was in college and often would have to sing early, like 7:55am. Singing early sucks.
- I think this started happening in my 40’s, but when I get cold my nose starts running and it doesn’t stop until long after I am back someplace warm. Which means my nose ran 9 hours Friday, 11 hours on Saturday and 7 hours on Sunday. That’s a lot of tissue and one fairly sore nose. Also, I look SO good like that.
- There are lots of kids around, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to see kids playing outside, in the dirt and mud ( it rained this weekend). In this age of kids (and adults) permanently attached to their iPhones and gameboys, watching kids chase each other in rubber boots, make mudpies and splash through puddles does my old school heart good. And watching a mom take off her 3 year olds boot, pour the muddy water out of it and then put the boot back on and send her back out to do it again, made me actually laugh out loud.
- I have maximum respect for all amount of work these folks put into their preparation for these shows. The relationship between horse and rider takes time to establish and can be fractured by the tiniest thing. And related to that…
- This is something that I also learned when I was in the circus ( did you know that?) , and I know that different people have different opinions about this, but this is mine. The riders and trainers LOVE their horses. It’s a relationship. It’s a love affair. It’s a commitment and they have to contribute an amazing amount of time, effort and money to make that relationship work. Back in my circus days, I’ve watched trainers throw hands at each other over perceived mistreatment of animals, and watched trainers bawl like kids when an animal passed. You don’t have to agree with that, but having watched it, that’s what I believe.
- These riders are in competition, but they are also incredibly supportive of each other. Most of the “audience” at the shows I do are other riders. They get scored and they get prizes, monetary and otherwise, but they are there to cheer and encourage each other. They don’t have to be. And this weekend it was COLD people ( have I mentioned that?) But they were there for each other. And I think that’s pretty cool.
- Horses, and cows for that matter, have personalities. Horses are smart, and they will test you. I know this because I once tried to learn how to ride a horse. In 24hrs. Over the phone. The next day, that horse knew. I tried to do the things that my friend Kelly told me to do over the phone the night before, after she laughed very hard and told me that she hoped this wasn’t an important audition, and I wasn’t thinking that this was actually going to work. The horse basically turned it’s head, looked at me, and starting wandering off in some random direction, with me on it’s back, ineffectually trying to use the reins and my legs to , maybe, influence it, until the people in charge mercifully ended the travesty…but I digress….
- Finally, I’m not a cowboy. No. really. In a parking area full of trailers and pickup trucks, there was only one Mini-Cooper. I tried wearing a cowboy hat & boots the first time I worked a show and was gently persuaded that it really was not as necessary as it was, say, absurd. I’ve had riders hand me the reins to their horses while they go to the office, or the bathroom. I think I looked kind of like I would if Daenerys Targaryen were to hand me the reins to a dragon. Halfway between confused and terrified. Everybody else wears boots and cowboy hats. Everybody. 2 years old to 92. . I don’t blend. However, they have taken me in, Mini-Cooper and all. They appreciate what I do and how I do it. And I think that’s very cool.
So that’s what I did on my weekend before St. Patricks Day. And that’s what I learned. I hope you all have a great week, a rockin St. Patrick’s Day and I’ll be back next week.